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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 January, 2004, 15:35 GMT
Oscar surprise for young actress
Keisha Castle-Hughes
Castle-Hughes made Whale Rider when she was 12
New Zealand schoolgirl actress Keisha Castle-Hughes said she was overwhelmed to learn she was the youngest ever Oscar best actress nominee.

Castle-Hughes - who is only 13 - said her mother told her at 3am NZ time she had been nominated for her role in the cult film Whale Rider.

"I was like, I thought I was still sleeping. I thought I'll be happy in the morning," she said.

Castle-Hughes was only 12 when she made the film, which was her first feature.

Castle-Hughes told New Zealand's National Radio she only believed the nomination was genuine when she started getting phone calls from the US.

MAIN OSCARS NOMINEES
Jude Law in Cold Mountain
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - 11
Master and Commander - 10
Cold Mountain (above) - 7
Seabiscuit - 7
Mystic River - 6
Pirates of the Caribbean - 5
City of God - 4
Lost In Translation - 4
Finding Nemo - 4
The Last Samurai - 4

"They were yelling down the phone at me... and I realised it was real," she said.

"I've always wanted to act and even when I made the movie ... I was fulfilling my dream," she said. "Now I'm fulfilling my dream in more ways ... and it's just amazing. It's overwhelming."

Castle-Hughes will compete against Diane Keaton (Something's Gotta Give), Samantha Morton (In America), Charlize Theron (Monster) and Naomi Watts (21 Grams).

The previous youngest best actress nominee was Isabelle Adjani, who was aged 20 in 1976 for The Story of Adele H.

The Lord of the Rings film-maker Peter Jackson heads the nominees for best director - but faces stiff competition from Lost in Translation's Sofia Coppola.

The daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, she is only the third female director to be nominated in Oscars history.

Clint Eastwood is in the running for murder thriller Mystic River, Australia's Peter Weir for making Master and Commander and Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles is a surprise nominee for City of God.

In the best actor category, British stars Jude Law and Ben Kingsley are in the running.

Japanese honour

Also in the contention are Sean Penn for Mystic River and Bill Murray for comedy Lost In Translation. Johnny Depp is nominated for Pirates of the Caribbean.

On the best supporting actor list, Tim Robbins is named for Mystic River and Benicio Del Toro is nominated for 21 Grams.

Alec Baldwin is shortlisted for comedy drama The Cooler, and The Last Samurai star Ken Watanabe becomes only the second Japanese actor to be nominated.

The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson
The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson is up for best director

African actor Djimon Hounsou, from Benin, is nominated for immigration drama In America.

In the supporting actress category, Cold Mountain star Zellweger - winner of the Golden Globe for best supporting actress - has been nominated for an Oscar in the same category.

And Holly Hunter is up for her role as a single mother in Thirteen, while Marcia Gay Harden is also in the running for Mystic River.

A surprise nominee is Iranian Shohreh Aghdashloo, who is nominated for best supporting actor in House of Sand and Fog.

The Oscars will be handed out in Hollywood on 29 February.

Last year, musical Chicago was named best picture, with Adrien Brody winning best actor and Nicole Kidman picking up best actress.


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