Hollywood's motion picture academy honored nominees for the Oscars Monday, as the countdown gets under way for the annual film awards. A luncheon gave nominees a chance to meet and share their thoughts in advance of Oscar night.
More than 100 nominees attended the lunch, but only 24 will go home next month with the statuette known as the Oscar.
There are many awards in Hollywood, says Terrence Howard, a nominee for his starring role in Hustle & Flow, but this is the big one.
"The Oscar is the fantasy that you're afraid to believe in, but in the secrecy of your little dark room, you dream and wait for it," Howard said.
Felicity Huffman, a nominee for best actress for Transamerica, has been talking about Oscar night with her family. "I have to turn to my husband several times a day and do that annoying thing of, like, "I forgot to tell you…." And he says, "What?" "I'm going to the Academy Awards."
Keira Knightley, a best-actress nominee for Pride and Prejudice, has been working in the Bahamas on her next film. Co-starring Johnny Depp, it is the third installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. She says Depp and the other cast members often tease her.
"Every single time that I do a take, they say, oh, is that an Oscar-nominated take, then?" she said.
This year's Oscar-nominated films take on some controversial themes. Brokeback Mountain, with eight nominations, is a tale of a romance between two cowboys. Transamerica, which has two nominations, is about a man about to undergo a sex-change operation.
Charlize Theron, a best-actress nominee for the film North Country, plays a mother who leaves an abusive husband to take a job in an iron mine. She says films like these are tackling real-life issues.
"Because that's the world right now, and I think that's our job, as filmmakers, to reflect what's happening in the world," Theron said.
The Oscars are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and winners will be announced in Hollywood March 5.