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Last Updated: Monday, 22 January 2007, 19:55 GMT
Film world awaits Oscar shortlist
Scene from The Departed
The Departed could give Martin Scorsese his first Oscar

The film world is anxiously awaiting the nominations for the 79th Academy Awards in Los Angeles.

Frontrunners include The Queen, Babel and The Last King of Scotland, each of which has won at the Golden Globes and the US Critics' Choice Awards.

Actress Salma Hayek will join Academy president Sid Ganis to reveal the names in a dawn ceremony.

The Academy Awards ceremony will be held at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on 25 February.

Golden Globes: Sacha Baron Cohen, Forest Whitaker
Los Angeles critics: Sacha Baron Cohen, Forest Whitaker
New York critics: Forest Whitaker
National Board of Review: Forest Whitaker

Dame Helen Mirren is widely tipped to walk away with a best actress nomination for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II.

Other hopefuls include Penelope Cruz, Dame Judi Dench and Kate Winslet.

Leonardo DiCaprio seems certain of at least one best actor nomination for The Departed - with a possible second nod for African thriller Blood Diamond.

But he is likely to face a strong challenge from Forest Whitaker, whose portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin has already won him a Golden Globe.

British hopefuls

Golden Globes: Babel, Dreamgirls (pictured)
Los Angeles critics: Letters From Iwo Jima
New York critics: United 93
National Board of Review: Letters From Iwo Jima

Veteran actor Peter O'Toole, who was born in Ireland but raised in Leeds, is also tipped for the best actor shortlist, having received a nomination for Venus at the Golden Globes, the Baftas and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Other British hopefuls include Dame Judi Dench for Notes On A Scandal, and director Stephen Frears for The Queen.

Both received Golden Globe nominations but neither received an award on the night.

There is speculation that this year's Oscars may try to inject some Hollywood glamour after what was seen as an overly serious ceremony in 2006.

Then, Crash won best picture for its hard-hitting examination of racial tension in Los Angeles, while Philip Seymour Hoffman won best actor for his portrayal of author Truman Capote.

Golden Globes: Martin Scorsese
Los Angeles critics: Paul Greengrass
New York critics: Martin Scorsese
National Board of Review: Martin Scorsese
As a result, bookmakers are currently naming musical drama Dreamgirls as the front-runner for this year's best film award.

William Hill makes it 7/4 favourite to win, followed by The Departed at 2/1, with Babel and Little Miss Sunshine tied on 5/1.

Dreamgirls could also pick up nominations for Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson, who took home supporting actor and actress awards at the Golden Globes.

Martin Scorsese is 1/3 favourite to take the best director award for Boston mob drama The Departed.

He has been overlooked in the best director category seven times in the past, so an Oscar win is long overdue.

Firm favourites

Hot on his heels is Clint Eastwood, who scores odds of 7/1 for his war film Letters from Iwo Jima and its companion piece, Flags Of Our Fathers.

Dame Helen Mirren
Golden Globes: Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep
Los Angeles critics: Helen Mirren
New York critics: Helen Mirren
National Board of Review: Helen Mirren
The last time the two directors went up against each other in 2004, Scorsese was again an early favourite, but on the night the award went to Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby.

William Hill tips Forest Whitaker to win the best actor category, offering odds of just 1/4.

Peter O'Toole emerges as a surprise second favourite on 6/1, closely followed by Leonardo DiCaprio on 8/1.

Kazakh reporter Borat earns Sacha Baron Cohen a place in the bookmaker's shortlist, but his 16/1 odds reflect the Academy's reluctance to reward actors for comedic roles.

The best actress category seems cut and dried, however, with Dame Helen Mirren commanding odds of 1/12.

Her nearest competitor is Meryl Streep, who is on 10/1 for her role as the boss from hell in The Devil Wears Prada.

Watch the nominations live on this website and on BBC News 24 at 1330 GMT on Tuesday.

1330GMT LIVE coverage of Oscars nominations

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