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banner Sunday, 24 March, 2002, 10:34 GMT
Oscars: All to play for
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings has the most nominations
With only hours to go until the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday the race for the top Oscars remains wide open.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring holds the most nominations at 13.

But pre-Oscars awards ceremonies have indicated it could face tough competition for best picture and director.

In the best picture category, it takes on drama A Beautiful Mind, family drama In the Bedroom, musical Moulin Rouge, and British class warfare tale Gosford Park.

Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen: A star of The Lord of the Rings

A Beautiful Mind had been tipped to take the coveted honour.

But recent controversy surrounding the movie has caused some commentators to question its chances.

The film about the schizophrenic Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash has been the target of negative stories.

Many reports implied allegations that Nash was anti-Semitic and homosexual were left out of the film.

Nash, director Ron Howard and the film's makers Universal have hit back at the accusations, adding that they thought a smear campaign from rival studios was behind the reports.

But the disquiet could open the door for The Lord of the Rings, or another nominee, to take best picture and see Howard also lose out.

Split

Howard won the Directors Guild of America award at the beginning of March.

Since 1949, when the Directors Guild of America first started handing out this award, the winner has gone on to win the Best Director at the Academy Awards on all but five occasions.

Director Ron Howard
Ron Howard: Won the DGA award

But, while statistics would appear to be on Howard's side, there is a school of thought in Hollywood that The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson could sneak through to take the Academy Award.

Such splitting of the top honours has happened before in years when Academy members are reluctant to overwhelmingly back one particular movie.

Boost

However, an even bigger surprise could be on the horizon.

The Screen Actors Guild's (SAG) top honour, for best ensemble cast, went to the period drama, Gosford Park.

The Upstairs, Downstairs-themed thriller beat off competition from the Oscar front-runners, A Beautiful Mind and Lord of the Rings.

Russell Crowe
Russell Crowe: Involved in a skirmish after the Baftas

And an additional boost for Gosford Park came in the category honouring a female actor in a supporting role.

The award went to British actress Helen Mirren for her portrayal of the housekeeper, Mrs Wilson.

When it comes to the Oscars, Mirren will face tough competition, in the equivalent category, from A Beautiful Mind star Jennifer Connelly, Gosford Park co-star Maggie Smith, Kate Winslet from Iris and Marisa Tomei (In the Bedroom).

In the best actor category, Russell Crowe's triumph, until recently considered in the bag, could also be jeopardy following his post- Baftas skirmish in London.

Crowe's closest rival is thought to be Denzel Washington, who acts against type as a corrupt cop in Training Day.

Deserving

The best actress race is just as unsure. Many believe Halle Berry could win for Monster's Ball after being named best female actor by the Screen Actors Guild.

Halle Berry
Halle Berry pipped favourite Sissy Spacek to the SAG

But In the Bedroom star Sissy Spacek has also been consistently touted by most film critics as the most deserving for her role as a grieving mother.

In the supporting actor category there is further evidence that several performers have it all to play for.

The SAG award went to Sir Ian McKellen for his role as Gandalf the Grey in The Lord of the Rings, while fellow British actor Jim Broadbent, had been considered the favourite.

The Oscars will be broadcast live on BBC Two on Monday from 0045-0500 GMT and reported live on BBC News Online.

See also:

11 Mar 02 | Film
Surprises at actors' awards
Links to more Oscars 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.


Links to more Oscars 2002 stories