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Published:March 2nd, 2006 16:44 EST
Mountain at peak of Oscar Nominations

Mountain at peak of Oscar Nominations

By Gretchen Ross

Controversial movies headline this year`s Academy Awards 

As colleges and universities prepare to take a break from the books, Hollywood celebrates its biggest night in movies with the 78th Academy Awards airing on ABC at 8 p.m.

America has flocked to the movie theaters to escape reality and enter the world of entertainment, but only one will take home the prize of Best Picture.

The Academy has narrowed down the list to five diverse candidates for the Oscar.

Brokeback Mountain " leads the pack with eight nominations and has several awards already under its belt. The movie depicts the story of two Wyoming cowboys who have a secret affair despite their marriage and families.

Another contender, Crash ", is an ensemble driven film that takes place in present day Los Angeles, telling the story of several people and their views on race and societal class and how their lives connect with each other. 

Good Night, and Good Luck, " the project of George Clooney re-visits the days of black and white film when portraying the true events that took place between Senator Joseph McCarthy and CBS news legend Edward R. Murrow in regards to Communism in America in the 1950`s.

Capote " is a film following the life of author Truman Capote as he researches for his book In Cold Blood " The relationship he develops with convicted murderer Perry Smith, who killed a family of four in Kansas, the basis of Capote`s novel.

The final movie nominated for Best Picture is Munich ", which explores the horrific 1972 Olympics and the violence as a result of Israeli athletes being killed. The prime minister of Israel at that time, Golda Meir, organized a team to assassinate those involved with the Munich Olympics attack.

Brokeback Mountain " is favored to win Best Picture along with Ang Lee for Best Director who also directed such movies as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon " and The Hulk ".  Others nominated in that category include: Steven Spielberg for Munich ", Bennett Miller for Capote ", George Clooney for Good Night, and Good Luck ", and Paul Haggis for Crash ".

Changing both physical appearance and his voice, Phillip Seymour Hoffman seems the most likely of the actors to take home the Oscar for his portrayal of Truman Capote in the Best Actor category.

Joaquin Phoenix may give Hoffman some competition with his performance as country music legend Johnny Cash in Walk the Line ". 

Australian actor Heath Ledger is also on the ballot for his praised role as Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain " along with David Strathairn for Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck ".  Up and coming star Terrance Howard received an Oscar nod for playing a Memphis pimp who becomes a successful rapper in Hustle & Flow ".

George Clooney is nominated all over the place this year including Best Supporting Actor for his character Bob Barnes, a CIA agent who gets tortured by terrorists in the movie Syriana ". Heartthrob Jake Gyllenhaal is nominated in that category for Jack Twist the lover of Heath Ledger`s character in Brokeback Mountain ". Matt Dillon is nominated for the first time for his character as a racist, brash cop in Crash ".

William Hurts` impressive ten-minute appearance in A History of Violence " as a mobster earned him his fourth Academy Award nomination.

Nominated two years in a row is Paul Giamatti for his role as Joe Gould the manager of Russell Crowe`s character boxer James J. Braddock in the depression-era drams Cinderella Man. "

The women`s categories seem more clear-cut as to who should take home the Oscar.

Reese Witherspoon`s depiction of June Carter Cash in Walk the Line " has earned her several awards such as The Golden Globe and Screen Actor`s Guild so it comes as no surprise if she wins Best Actress on Sunday.

The only threat to Witherspoon`s Oscar is Felicity Huffman who is also nominated for her performance as Bree, a transsexual who is about to get her gendered changed when she learns she is a father in Transamerica ".

Two previous Oscar winners are also nominated.  Charlize Theron is up for her role as miner Josey Aimes in North Country " and Dame Judi Dench for Mrs. Henderson Presents " in which she plays a wealthy widow who operates a burlesque theater in London during the 1940`s.
 Underdog Keira Knightly received a nomination for the fiery Elizabeth Bennett in Pride & Prejudice ".

A very pregnant Rachel Weisz has been given the honor of a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her portrayal of an activist who fights for the people of Kenya in the movie The Constant Gardner ". She is the favorite for the category after receiving two previous awards for her work in this film.

Some competition may arise for Weisz from Amy Adams for her performance as Ashley in Junebug " earning her a Sundance Film Festival 2005 acting award.

Real life fiancée to co-star Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams is in the category for her role as Alma, Ledger`s young bride in Brokeback Mountain ".

Other nominees includes Oscar winner Frances McDormand for her character Glory in North Country " and Catherine Keener as To Kill a Mockingbird " author Harper Lee in Capote ".

What would the Academy Awards be without eye-popping fashion on the red carpet? The pre-show is often a fashion free for all as actors tell the world who they are wearing.

This year`s host is comedian and The Daily Show host Jon Stewart. Stewart is expected to appeal to a younger audience in hopes to draw more viewers. From the host to the nominees the Academy Awards are sure to be full of surprises.