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Monday, 27 March, 2000, 02:04 GMT 03:04 UK
Stars glitter at Oscars
Academy Awards
Putting the finishing touches to the coveted awards
The film world's biggest extravaganza, the Oscars, is under way with screen stars soon to learn whether they have been honoured by the academy.

Hundreds of fans are gathered outside the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles for the 72nd Academy Awards, greeting every arrival walking up the red carpet with wild cheers.

Best Picture Nominees
American Beauty
The Insider
The Cider House Rules
Sixth Sense
The Green Mile
Past Oscar winners Gwyneth Paltrow, Roberto Benigni and Steven Spielberg are among the stars presenting the coveted gold statuettes at the ceremony.

But the run-up to the big event has not been without problems, with stolen Oscars, ballot papers going missing and an exit poll hinting at the winners.

American Beauty, a dark satire about American suburbia starring Kevin Spacey, who is up for best actor, is widely tipped to win the best picture award

A British night?

Britons are in line up to walk away with several of the awards.

British nominees
Best Director: Sam Mendes
Best Actress: Janet McTeer
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Caine; Jude Law
Best Supporting Actress: Samantha Morton
Best Original Screenplay: Mike Leigh; Alan Ball
Best Adapted Screenplay: Anthony Minghella
Best Foreign Language Film: Solomon and Gaenor
Director Sam Mendes is widely tipped to be named as best director for American Beauty, which has a total of eight nominations.

Walking into the auditorium, he said of the publicity surrounding American Beauty: "It's incredible, it's insane and it's crazy. I've had a great time in the past six weeks, but it's also been the longest six weeks of my life."

Fellow Briton Michael Caine is predicted to win best supporting actor for his role in The Cider House Rules.

Spacey is fighting it out with Denzel Washington for the best actor award.

Actress Hilary Swank, star of Boys Don't Cry, is the surprise favourite to be named best actress, while Angelina Jolie is up for best supporting actress for Girl, Interrupted.

Dedicated fans

About a billion viewers worldwide are expected to tune in to watch the live broadcast of the ceremony.

However, hundreds of fans preferred to queue around the Shrine Auditorium, in Los Angeles, the site of this year's award ceremony.

Chloe Sevigny
Chloe Sevigny - nominated for best supporting actress - arrives at the awards
They hope to get a seat along the red carpet on the building entrance.

Some came with tents and sleeping bags, but only about 600 of them will secure a seat near the entrance's red carpet.

About 60 people pitched their tents as early as Monday. But for the first time since so-called "Camp Oscar" became an annual Oscar tradition, the Los Angeles Police Department made them break camp on Wednesday and gave them vouchers to come later.

"We weren't as upset as some of the others," said first-in-line Babe Churchill, 69, a hairdresser from outside Los Angeles who has been lining up to see the stars for the past 31 years.

"We've been coming all this time," she said.

Many of the 600 or so fans waiting said they initially started coming to catch a glimpse of the stars, but what brings them back each year is the people they meet.

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See also:

24 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Beauty bags your vote
17 Mar 00 | Oscars 2000
Oscar nominees in full
17 Mar 00 | Oscars 2000
Academy Awards A-Z
25 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Anger as poll tips Oscar winners
24 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Anti-abortionists target Oscars
23 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Oscars count begins - at last
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