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Cowboy Romance <i>Brokeback Mountain</i> Leads Oscar Nominations

The cowboy romance "Brokeback Mountain" leads the Academy Award nominations, announced in Los Angeles early Tuesday. The film earned eight nominations, including for best picture, best director, and best leading actor.

Ang Lee earned a directing nomination for Brokeback Mountain, a tale of unexpected love between two cowboys.

Brokeback Mountain star Heath Ledger was among the nominees for best actor, announced by actress Mira Sorvino at an early morning news conference. Other best-actor nominees include Philip Seymour Hoffman for his role as writer Truman Capote in Capote, and Joaquin Phoenix, who played singer Johnny Cash in Walk the Line.

"The nominees for best performance by an actor in a leading role are Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote; Terrence Howard in Hustle & Flow; Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain; Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line; and David Strathairn in Good Night, and Good Luck," announced Sorvino.

Among best actress nominees is Reese Witherspoon, who played the singer June Carter, wife of Johnny Cash, in Walk the Line. Other nominees are Judi Dench for the World War II-era comedy Mrs. Henderson Presents, Felicity Huffman for her role as a man about to undergo a sex change operation in Transamerica, Keira Knightley for Pride and Prejudice and Charlize Theron for North Country.

George Clooney received an acting nomination for his supporting role in Syriana, in which he played a CIA undercover agent, and for best director and co-writer of Good Night, and Good Luck. That film tells the story of reporter Edward R. Murrow and his battles with Communist-hunting Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Directing nominees include Steven Spielberg for Munich. The film about the aftermath of the 1972 killing of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics earned five nominations, including best picture.

The film Crash, an ensemble story that explores racial and ethnic tensions, received six nominations, including best picture and best supporting actor for Matt Dillon.

Nominees for best foreign language film include a Palestinian film on the last hours of a pair of suicide bombers, called Paradise Now. Other foreign film nominees include the tale of an anti-Nazi resister, Sophie Scholl - The Final Days, from Germany; the Italian film Don't Tell, Joyeux Noel from France and Tsotsi from South Africa.

The Academy Awards, or Oscars, are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will be handed out in Hollywood March 5.