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THE OSCAR NOMINATIONS

Lead Actor

January 23, 2008

GEORGE CLOONEY | "Michael Clayton"

After receiving a supporting actor Oscar two years ago for "Syriana," and nominations for director and screenplay for 2005's "Good Night, and Good Luck," the 46-year-old heartthrob earns his first Academy Award nod in the lead actor category for his turn as a "fixer" at a high-powered New York law firm. Clooney has also earned Golden Globe, Critics Choice, London Film Critics Circle, Screen Actors Guild and British Academy of Film and Television Arts nominations for "Clayton" and was named best actor for the legal thriller by the National Board of Review.

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DANIEL DAY-LEWIS | "There Will Be Blood"

Because the 50-year-old British actor has made only a smattering of films since winning his first Oscar 18 years ago for "My Left Foot," his screen forays have become something of an event. He receives his fourth lead actor nomination as a greedy oilman in Paul Thomas Anderson's epic. He's won several critics honors for the film, including from the L.A. Film Critics Assn., National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle, as well as the Golden Globe.

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JOHNNY DEPP | "Sweeney Todd"

The former high school dropout, who fronted several garage bands as a young man, earns his third lead actor Oscar nomination for his electrifying turn as the singing demon barber in Tim Burton's adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical. "Sweeney" marks the sixth time Depp, 44, has collaborated with Burton. He was nominated for an Oscar for 2003's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl" and for 2004's "Finding Neverland." Depp won the Golden Globe for lead actor in a musical or comedy for "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street."

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TOMMY LEE JONES | "In the Valley of Elah"

Al Gore's former roommate at Harvard who made his film debut 38 years ago in "Love Story" earns his first lead actor nomination as Hank Deerfield, a career officer who investigates his son's disappearance after his return from a tour of duty in Iraq. The craggy-faced Jones, 61, is nominated for a SAG Award as part of the ensemble for "No Country for Old Men" and a BAFTA for supporting actor for "No Country." He won the supporting actor Academy Award for his role in 1993's "The Fugitive."

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VIGGO MORTENSEN | "Eastern Promises"

The 49-year-old poet, photographer and painter picks up his first Oscar nomination for his role as Nikolai, the ruthless but loyal driver and bodyguard for a Russian mafioso in London in David Cronenberg's volatile thriller. Mortensen, who made his film debut 23 years ago in "Witness" and is best known as the dashing Aragorn in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, has also received Golden Globe, SAG, Critics Choice and BAFTA nods for "Promises," winning the British Independent Film Award for best actor.

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