Actress Salma Hayek (L) and Academy President Sid Ganis announce the 79th Academy Awards nominees for best actor at the at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, California, January 23, 2007. REUTERS/Phil McCarten (UNITED STATES)

The nominations for this year’s Motion Picture Academy Awards were announced today, and they basically repeated those made earlier this year by the Golden Globes. Dreamgirls was left out of the Best Picture nominations, rather surprisingly according to Hollywood insiders, and Sacha Baron Cohen was not nominated for his performance in Borat, which was not a surprise. (The Academy seldom honors broad comic performances, except those that are intended as serious. . . .)

The AP story noted that ethnicity appeared to be a plus this year:

With five blacks, two Hispanics and an Asian, it was the most ethnically diverse lineup ever among the 20 acting nominees. After decades in which the Oscars were a virtual whites-only club, with minority actors only occasionally breaking into the field, the awards have featured a much broader mix of nominees in the last few years.

The nominations are indeed much more "diverse" ethnically than in prior years, and in fact much more so than the population of the country. A non-caucasian is now decidedly more likely to receive an Academy Award nomination than a caucasian is.

Can affirmative action for caucasian actors be on the way? 

Peter O’Toole was nominated for Best Actor for his role in Venus, which nobody saw, which suggests that he will miss out with a record eighth time nominated and no award. Forrest Whittaker is favored to win for his performance as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. Meryl Streep was nominated for a record 14th time, in this instance for her performance as Cruella DeVille in The Devil Wears Prada. Eddie Murphy was nominated for his daring and uncharacteristic choice to play a character less than fifty feet tall and under 700 pounds in Dreamgirls.

Little Miss Sunshine received a Best Picture nomination and a couple of performance nominations for being the comedy version of last year’s winner, Crash (that is, the spunky little independent movie that could). And Babel received a Best Picture nomination for being both epic and disturbing and for being another variation on Crash in telling multiple stories.

All in all, another great year for postmodern Hollywood cliches.