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Tuesday, 13 February, 2001, 18:48 GMT
Walters leads UK Oscars charge
Jamie Bell and Julie Walters in Billy Elliot
Showing the way: Julie Walters is nominated
Julie Walters and Dame Judi Dench carry the UK's hopes of acting Oscars this year, while Ridley Scott is up for best director for Gladiator.

The actresses are nominated for their parts in Billy Elliot and Chocolat respectively, while Scott saw his film Gladiator lead the way with 12 nominations.

Walters, last nominated for an Academy Award in 1984 for Educating Rita, has a best supporting actress nomination for her part as the dance teacher in Billy Elliot, the story of a miner's son who grows up dreaming of becoming a ballet dancer.

Jamie Bell as Billy Elliot
Jamie Bell missed out on a best actor nomination
She was filming a new TV part when she heard of her nomination, and said she was "thrilled and delighted".

The film, co-produced by the BBC, has three nominations overall, with Stephen Daldry nominated for best director.

Like last year's best director winner Sam Mendes, Daldry is a newcomer to Hollywood, having been better known for his work on stage at the Royal Court Theatre in London.

Recognised

But Billy Elliot missed out on a best film nomination, and 14-year-old star Jamie Bell - already nominated for a Bafta and a Screen Actors Guild prize - was overlooked in the best actor category.

It did, however, win a best original screenplay nomination for writer Lee Hall.

Dame Judi Dench is recognised for her short role in French fairy-tale Chocolat, with a best supporting actress nomination.

Albert Finney
Albert Finney has a nomination for Erin Brockovich
Two years ago she won the same prize for playing Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love.

Dame Judi said of her nomination for Chocolat: "Making the film was a wonderful experience and I'm just so thrilled, happy and lucky to have worked with such a great cast and crew."

Albert Finney also gains a best supporting actor nomination for his part in Erin Brockovich alongside Julia Roberts. It is his fifth Acacdemy Award nomination.

But it is Ridley Scott who has the most to look forward to when the awards are given out at the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles on 25 March.

Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix receive best actor and supporting actor mentions for Gladiator, while the film is also recognised for its screenplay, cinematography, score, costumes, editing and effects.

Ridley Scott
Ridley Scott: 12 nominations for Gladiator
The Roman epic is the 63-year-old film-maker's biggest hit since Blade Runner in 1982. He was last nominated for an Oscar for 1992's Thelma and Louise.

Musical stars

British composer Rachel Portman has a share in the nominations for Chocolat.

Her score for the film is nominated for an Academy Award, and she will be hoping to add to the Oscar she picked up in 1997 for the score to Emma.

Sting is nominated for best song for Disney cartoon The Emperor's New Groove.

Catherine Zeta Jones
Missing out: Catherine Zeta Jones
He will be hoping to repeat Phil Collins' triumph last year with My Funny Friend And Me, performed with David Hartley.

British actors who miss out on nominations this year include Kate Winslet, whose Quills co-star Geoffrey Rush is nominated for best actor.

Catherine Zeta Jones was heavily-tipped for her part in Traffic, which itself is based on a 1989 mini-series made for Channel 4, Traffik.

But she does not feature in the film's four nominations.

Gary Oldman was also seen as a good bet for a best supporting actor nomination for his part in political drama The Contender, but instead saw the spotlight fall on his co-star, Jeff Bridges.

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