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Veterans, Newcomer, Artist Among Nominees for Best Directing Oscar


Sunday February 24, Hollywood celebrates the best films and performances of 2007 with the 80th annual Oscars. The Academy Awards - chosen by members of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - are the entertainment industry's most prestigious honors. Alan Silverman has the list of the nominees for one of the top categories - best director.

There Will Be Blood is the story of oil in California a century ago, told through a greedy and vicious developer played by Daniel Day-Lewis.

The historical epic is the fifth film by writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson and it earns the 38-year-old his first Oscar nomination for directing.

"At the core of the story was the drive and ambition, not only from this independent oilman, but also from the people that he was supposedly getting the better of. The ambition was on both sides," Anderson explains.

Anderson is also nominated for writing There Will Be Blood, which is also up for best picture.

A French-language film based on a true story brings American artist-turned director Julian Schnabel his first Academy Award nomination: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is based on the memoir written by Jean-Dominique Bauby after a massive stroke left him only able to communicate by blinking one eye. Schnabel found in it a way to blend his painting and filmmaking skills.

"One thing that Jean-Dominique Bauby said that I found extremely helpful to me as director is 'swimming up from the mist of a coma, you never get the luxury of having your dreams evaporate.' Then you start thinking about what is reality," Schnabel says.

A veteran screenwriter makes his directing debut with a tense drama about lawyers, corporations and morality.

Michael Clayton earned acting nominations for cast members George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton along with both writing and directing nods for Tony Gilroy.

"When you become a director, the minute that's your job, you begin to absorb all this other credit (and) I get credit for all the performances, for James Newton Howard's score, for Robert Ellsworth's cinematography," Gilroy says. "You become this magnet for credit. It's the exact opposite experience from being a writer."

Juno is a about a pregnant teenager and the discoveries she makes about life, love and family. The crowd-pleasing, critically-acclaimed comedy is up for four Oscars including best picture, best original screenplay (for Diablo Cody) and best director for Jason Reitman.

"It was a tricky subject matter," says Reitman. " It was teenage pregnancy, but it took a very enlightened, open-minded view on the subject and was a story that allowed all the characters to react in a very human way and in an original way."

At 31, Reitman is the youngest of this year's best director nominees and Juno is just his second film.

Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen have been writing and directing for almost 25 years. They have a best directing nomination this year for a gritty tale of murder, trust and betrayal.

The Coens adapted No Country For Old Men from the novel by Cormac McCarthy which Ethan Coen credits for giving them the dusty Texas setting.

"Most of that sense of place comes from Cormac McCarthy. Part of what attracted us to the novel in the first place was how specific that was," he says.

Like many of their films, No Country ... is realistic in its portrayal of violence. Joel Coen says that, too, comes directly from the source material.

"It's a very violent book, but it wasn't something that we worried about," he notes. "It was just an element of the book that we felt was important and had to be included and was like any other directorial problem. You just figure out how to do it, what to show, how much to show and find some reasonable, appropriate balance with it."

Along with Best Director, the Coen brothers are nominated for writing, editing and producing No Country For Old Men, which is up for eight Academy Awards on Sunday.

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