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The BBC's Jon Leyne reports
"Leading the nominations was American Beauty"
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The 72nd Academy Awards nominations
As presented by Robert Rehme and Dustin Hoffman
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banner Friday, 17 March, 2000, 10:12 GMT
Beauty leads Oscars field
Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey: Best actor nominee for American Beauty
British director Sam Mendes' film American Beauty leads the pack for the 2000 Academy Awards on 26 March - with eight nominations, including best picture.

Star Kevin Spacey is up for best actor nomination, while Annette Bening is competing for best actress and Mendes is shortlisted for best director.

Annette Bening
Annette Bening: Best Actress nomination
The movie's other nominations are for screenwriter Alan Ball for best original screenplay, as well as for best cinematography, film editing and original score.

The film is a dark satire on life in US suburbia, concentrating on the decaying relationship between a couple played by Spacey and Bening.

It marks Mendes' cinematic debut - he made his name in the theatre, directing The Blue Room and the original version of The Rise And Fall of Little Voice.

It's all downhill from here - probably the end of my career now. Even if it's all downhill from here, it'll still be a good journey

Sam Mendes
Mendes said he was "thrilled and completely delighted" at having been nominated.

He added: "It's all downhill from here - probably the end of my career now. Even if it's all downhill from here, it'll still be a good journey.

"It's all a huge bonus and I'm treating it as that. It's delightful."

American Beauty is followed by The Insider and The Cider House Rules, which each have seven nominations. Both films are alo nominated for best picture, along with The Green Mile and The Sixth Sense, which has six nominations overall.

Best actor and actress

In the best actor category, Kevin Spacey is up against Russell Crowe's portrayal of a tobacco industry whistle-blower in The Insider.

Michael Caine in The Cider House Rules
Fourth nomination for Michael Caine
Sean Penn is nominated for his role in Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown, while Denzel Washington is shortlisted for his part as wrongly-imprisoned boxer Rubin Carter in The Hurricane. Richard Farnsworth also gets a nod for his part in The Straight Story.

British star Janet McTeer gets a best actress nomination for her role in Tumbleweeds, which won her a Golden Globe earlier this year. As well as Bening, she also faces fellow Globe winner Hilary Swank (Boys Don't Cry), Julianne Moore (The End of The Affair), and Meryl Streep for her part in Music of the Heart.

Supporting nod for Caine

British film icon Michael Caine has the fourth Oscar nomination of his career in the best supporting actor category for his role as an unorthodox abortion doctor in The Cider House Rules.

Jude Law: Rising British star gets his first Oscar nod
He faces rising UK star Jude Law, who stars in The Talented Mr Ripley, in the same category - as well as 11-year-old Haley Joel Osment, who stars in The Sixth Sense. The other nominees are Tom Cruise for Magnolia and Michael Clarke Duncan for The Green Mile.

Best supporting actress sees Toni Collette nominated for The Sixth Sense, as well as Angelina Jolie for Girl, Interrupted, Catherine Keener for Being John Malkovich, and Chloe Sevigny for Boys Don't Cry.

The UK has another nominee here - Samantha Morton, who stars in Sweet and Lowdown. The 22-year-old is best known in the UK for her role in ITV drama Band of Gold.

President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Robert Rehme described this year's Oscars line-up as "eclectic and strong" and added "there was no favourite among them".

The ceremony takes place on 26 March, hosted by comic actor Billy Crystal, of When Harry Met Sally fame.

Among the stars taking the stage to present awards will be nominees Bening, Spacey and Law and a host of others including Cameron Diaz, Keanu Reeves, Dame Judi Dench, director Steven Spielberg and Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood.

Click here to read a full list of nominees.

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See also:

15 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Mendes: 'I'll stay in UK'
15 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Oscar nominees in full
15 Feb 00 | Wales
Welsh movie on Oscars list
24 Jan 00 | Entertainment
The Mendes touch
25 Jan 00 | Entertainment
American Beauty wins again
08 Jan 00 | Tom Brook
Denzel's Hurricane stirs controversy
25 Jan 00 | Entertainment
American Beauty, British success
27 Nov 99 | Tom Brook
Janet's Oscar hope
02 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Brits gain Oscars momentum
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