The 2009 Tony Award nominees were announced this morning, and competition for a nod was particularly intense this year because the 2008-09 theater season saw the highest number of new Broadway plays, musicals, and revivals in 25 years—and an unusually large percentage of them weren't just flashy drivel. Take for example, reasons to be pretty, Neil LaBute's stirring relationship-wreckage play: the Broadway production nabbed three desperately-needed Tony nominations—including Best Play and one for Gothamist crush Marin Ireland—but the show is hanging by a thread at the Lyceum Theatre, filling just 30% of the house last week.

Billy Elliot, The Musical received the most nominations of any show, with 15, and will compete in the Best Musical category with Next to Normal, Rock of Ages, and Shrek. All four celebs in the brilliantly acted play God of Carnage (Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini, and Marcia Gay Harden) were nominated for Tonys, but besides competing with each other, Daniels and Gandolfini must also best three other formidable nominees: The riveting, always-a-bridesmaid Raúl Esparza (Speed-the-Plow), Geoffrey Rush (Exit the King) and reasons to be pretty's Thomas Sadoski. Jane Fonda and the two stars of Mary Stuart will compete with Davis and Gay Harden, and Jeremy Piven was snubbed, surprising no one.

Will Ferrell's savagely funny You're Welcome America. A Final Night with George W Bush was nominated for "Best Special Theatrical Event," along with Liza's at The Palace, Slava's Snowshow, and Soul of Shaolin. The excellent revival of Waiting for Godot will compete against the equally-acclaimed Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Mary Stuart, and The Norman Conquests. Daniel Radcliffe did not receive a nomination for last season's irritating revival of Equus, and speaking of irritating, the designer of the eyesore of a set for Guys and Dolls was nominated for Best Scenic Design of a Musical. Here's the full list of nominees—winners will be announced on June 7th during a broadcast on CBS.