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Tuesday, 15 February, 2000, 16:04 GMT
Mendes: 'I'll stay in UK'
American Beauty director Sam Mendes is promising not to flee the UK for Hollywood - even if he does sweep the board at the Oscars.
His cinematic debut is nominated for eight awards, but Mendes - who is still artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse theatre in London - is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
He said: "I'm definitely not going to give up the theatre or move to Hollywood.
"There aren't a lot of bright lights there, just a lot of advertising hoardings and temporary buildings that'll fall down next time there'll be an earthquake."
"My home is London and my workplace is the Donmar, and the next thing I'll do is a play".
Veteran springs surprise
Veteran Richard Farnsworth is battling it out in the Best Actor category with Hollywood heavyweights Kevin Spacey and Denzel Washington.
The 79-year-old - the oldest leading actor nominee in Oscars history - is the star of gentle Disney drama The Straight Story, which chronicles the real-life story of Alvin Straight's 1994 trip across America on his lawnmower.
Speaking from his cattle ranch in New Mexico, he said: "It feels a lot better because I'm getting up there in age and might not have a chance again."
Apart from Spacey for American Beauty and Denzel Washington in The Hurricane, the other nominees in the Best Actor category are Sean Penn for Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown and New Zealand-born Russell Crowe for The Insider.
Morton's sweet success
British actress Samantha Morton said she was in shock after hearing that she had been nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category for the Oscars.
"It's been amazing, the best. I'm a lucky girl," said the 22-year-old, who gave birth nine days ago to daughter Esme.
"They did say that, because Woody Allen's name was linked to Sweet and Lowdown, I might get a nomination, but I haven't had a chance to think about that recently, because of the baby."
"It's amazing to be nominated and it's really good to be up against other real actors. All those women are all brilliant actors."
Morton, who shot to fame in the UK in ITV's Band of Gold, plays a mute launderess who wins the heart of a jazz guitarist played by Sean Penn in Woody Allen Sweet and Lowdown.
She is up against The Sixth Sense's Toni Collette, Angelina Jolie for Girl Interrupted, Catheine Keener for Being John Malkovich and Chloe Sevigny's Boys Don't Cry.
Hopeful child star
The Sixth Sense star Haley Joel Osment is this year's youngest nominee.
The 11-year-old's critically acclaimed perfomance in the ghost story was recognised with an Oscars nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category.
He's up against superstar Tom Cruise again, whose role as a seedy TV guru in Magnolia won him a Golden Globe last month.
At the Oscars, Osment - who auditioned for Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace - will also be competing against Michael Caine for The Cider House Rules, Michael Clarke Duncan for The Green Mile and Jude Law for The Talented Mr Ripley.
Pedro starts favourite
Spanish director Pedro Almodovar will be the favourite to win in the Best Foreign Language Film category, following an incredible record of success with his All About My Mother.
The film, which won recently at the Golden Globes and at last year's Cannes Film Festival, is up against the Welsh picture Solomon and Gaenor, starring Ioan Gruffud.
The Welsh Assembly congratulated Gruffudd and co-star Nia Roberts on the news.
New First Secretary Rhodri Morgan called it "a huge achievement", adding: "It will also have a dramatic effect in helping us build up the media industry in Wales."
Also nominated in the same category are the Nepalese picture Caravan, French film East-West and Under The Sun from Sweden.
South Park on song
Lewd and crude movie South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut may have ruffled its fair share of feathers but this hasn't stopped one of its songs being nominated for an Oscar.
The catchy but politically incorrect Blame Canada, from the feature length version of the raucous TV series, has been named in the Original Song category.
Written by South Park creator Trey Parker and composer Marc Shaiman, the song becomes a motif throughout the film and contains the usual quota of "adult" South Park language.
It is joined in the same category by more sober pieces from Music from the Heart and Magnolia. Also named are pieces from the children's animation hits Tarzan and Toy Story 2.
Star Wars consolation
Blockbuster Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace may have missed out in the heavyweight categories, but it picked up two of the more technical nominations for this year's Oscars.
The film, which broke box office records last year, is listed in the Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing catagories.
Futuristic Keannu Reeves thriller The Matrix is squared up against it in both groups.
Another box office success to gain Oscars recognition is mouse movie Stuart Little for Best Visual Effects.
Streep goes for record
Hollywood superstar Meryl Streep enters the Academy Awards records book with her Best Actress nomination for Music of the Heart.
It is Streep's 12th shortlisted Oscars role, meaning she is now tying with four-time winner Katharine Hepburn in the all-time list.
The 50-year-old, who has already won two Academy Awards, is up against American Beauty's Annette Bening, Janet McTeer for Tumbleweeds, Julianne Moore for The End of the Affair and Boys Don't Cry star Hilary Swank.
Meanwhile, composer John Williams has also broken a record - his Oscar nomination for the Angela's Ashes score is his 38th, making the composer the most nominated living person.
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