Awards Mania: Heath, ’30 Rock,’ More!

And so it begins …

The National Board of Review kicked the award season off last week by announcing their 2008 picks and now the Writers Guild, Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association and the Critics’ Choice Awards are following suit.

The Critics Choice folks have pitted significant other against significant other by choosing Brad Pitt’s Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Angelina Jolie’s The Changeling as best picture nominees, along with The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, WALL-E, DoubtThe Reader and The Wrestler.

Pitt got a nod for best actor as well, joining Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino), Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon), Sean Penn (Milk) and Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler).

The late Heath Ledger is starting his posthumous run by getting a Critics’ Choice supporting actor nod for his work in The Dark Knight, along with Josh Brolin (Milk), Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt) and James Franco (Milk).

Actress nods went to Changeling’s Jolie, of course. Also to Kate Beckinsale (Nothing But the Truth), Cate Blanchett (Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Melissa Leo (Frozen River) and Meryl Streep (Doubt).

The supporting actress list includes: Penélope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona); Viola Davis (Doubt); Vera Farmiga (Nothing But the Truth); Taraji P. Henson (Curious Case of Benjamin Button); Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler) and Kate Winslet (The Reader).

The 14th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards, voted on by the Broadcast Film Critics Association, are due to be presented Jan. 8.

Meanwhile, the Writers Guild of America choose their top TV picks, including — comedy nominees The Simpsons, 30 Rock, The Office, EntourageWeeds — and dramas The Wire, Mad Men, DexterLost and Friday Night Lights. Word is still out on what movies the WGA will pick.

Lastly, the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association let their voices be heard by announcing their winners straight out.

Along with NBR, the Washington critics anointed Slumdog Millionaire as best picture, a film about an Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Its director Danny Boyle won best director and young star Dev Patel won best Breakthrough Performance.

They gave Ledger his first posthumous award for best supporting actor, while handing their top best actor honors to Mickey Rourke for his stunning performance in The Wrestler.

Meryl Streep received the best actress award for her nun turn in Doubt, stealing some of the awards-season thunder from Anne Hathaway, who was NBR’s Best Actress pick for Rachel Getting Married. But Rachel didn’t go unrecognized, as Rosemarie DeWitt was named best supporting actress.

Oh, and there’s lots more to come. In fact, the 66th Annual Golden Globes nominations will be announced Thursday, Dec. 11.