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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 15:36 GMT
Aviator leads Oscar nominations
Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio making The Aviator
Martin Scorsese directed Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator
Martin Scorsese's film The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, has taken pole position in this year's Oscars race with 11 nominations.

Its closest rivals are Clint Eastwood's boxing drama Million Dollar Baby and Finding Neverland, starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, with seven each.

Eastwood and Ray actor Jamie Foxx have been given two nominations each.

Winslet, Imelda Staunton and Clive Owen lead the UK hopes, which include three nods for Mike Leigh's film Vera Drake.

The Aviator is favourite to win best picture - the main award for movie of the year - with bookmakers also tipping Scorsese to take the best director statuette.

Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet in Finding Neverland
11 - The Aviator
7- Finding Neverland (above)
7 - Million Dollar Baby
6 - Ray
5 - Sideways

In the best picture category, The Aviator faces Million Dollar Baby, Finding Neverland, about Peter Pan creator JM Barrie, Ray Charles biopic Ray and bittersweet comedy Sideways.

Scorsese has been nominated six times before, but has never won - with many predicting this could be his year.

DiCaprio plays pilot and playboy Howard Hughes in The Aviator and it is his first Oscar nomination since 1994's What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

He faces stiff competition for this year's best actor award from Foxx, whose role as late soul star Ray Charles has made him favourite.

He is also nominated for best supporting actor for his role opposite Tom Cruise in thriller Collateral - making him the first man to have two acting nominations in the same year since Al Pacino in 1993.

Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby
4/9 - The Aviator
9/4 - Million Dollar Baby (above)
13/2 - Sideways
25/1 - Ray
33/1 - Finding Neverland
Source: William Hill
DiCaprio and Foxx are up against Eastwood, Depp and Don Cheadle, for Hotel Rwanda, in the best actor contest.

For best supporting actor, Foxx is up alongside British star Clive Owen for Closer, former Mash actor Alan Alda - who appears in The Aviator - Morgan Freeman for Million Dollar Baby and Thomas Haden Church for Sideways.

Among the actresses, Hilary Swank is hoping for the second Oscar of her career for Million Dollar Baby while Winslet is nominated for best actress for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

They will compete with Annette Bening for Being Julia, Colombian actress Catalina Sandino Moreno for Maria Full of Grace and Imelda Staunton for Vera Drake.

Jamie Foxx in Ray
Jamie Foxx tells the life story of late singer Ray Charles in Ray
Cate Blanchett, who plays late screen legend Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator, is favourite for best supporting actress, ahead of Virginia Madsen for Sideways, Natalie Portman for Closer, Laura Linney for Kinsey and another UK nominee, Sophie Okonedo, for Hotel Rwanda.

Scorsese will go head-to-head with Eastwood for the directing award, with Alexander Payne also nominated for Sideways, Taylor Hackford for Ray and UK director Mike Leigh for Vera Drake.

Vera Drake, a tale of a 1950s British abortionist played by Staunton, has a third nomination for best original screenplay.

Leigh told BBC News 24: "We hoped Imelda would get a nomination but I never expected to get director and screenplay. It's just absolutely wonderful."

Nominations for the 77th Academy Awards were read by Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody at a dawn Los Angeles ceremony on Tuesday.

This year's awards will be handed out in Hollywood on 27 February.

See clips from this year's Oscar-nominated films


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