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The BBC's Jon Leyne reports
American Beauty is leading this year's nominations
 real 28k

banner Friday, 17 March, 2000, 10:12 GMT
Oscar nods for British stars
oscar statuettes
No Shakespeare in Love but British hopes are high
British stars are in with a strong chance of collecting a coveted Oscar this year, with two actors and two actresses nominated for Academy Awards.

Unlike last year, when Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love dominated the Academy's glitzy ceremony, there are few British-made films vying for the glittering prizes.

Sam Mendes
Sam Mendes: Critics love American Beauty
But American Beauty, the universally acclaimed film debut for British director Sam Mendes, figures highly with eight nominations - including best director for the 34-year-old Mendes.

The theatre director said he was "absolutely thrilled and completely delighted".

But he joked: "It's all downhill from here, it's probably the end of my career."

British writer Alan Ball also can toast the film's success with a nomination for best original screenplay.

Film icon Michael Caine is nominated in the best supporting actor category for his performance in the Cider House Rules - one of his few appearances without an English accent.

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

British thespian Jude Law, one of the stars of fellow Briton Anthony Minghella's new film The Talented Mr Ripley, is also nominated as best supporting actor.

Anthony Minghella also features with a nomination for best screenplay adapted from material previously published, for his development of the Patricia Highsmith novel.

Minghella is no stranger to the limelight, as his film The English Patient took nine titles at the 1996 Oscars including best director.

British actress Janet McTeer, who won high praise for her role as a single mother in Tumbleweeds, is competing in the best actress category.

This follows her Golden Globe win for the same role.

Janet McTeer
Janet McTeer: Could Tumbleweeds net her Best Actress?
Ms McTeer said she was amazed the low-budget movie had been so well received.

"It was our little film and we were lucky if anyone saw it and now here we are," she told the BBC.

Samantha Morton, best known for appearing in ITV drama Band of Gold, is nominated for best supporting actress for Sweet and Lowdown.

Welsh picture Solomon and Gaenor, starring Ioan Gruffud, is nominated for best foreign language film.

New First Secretary Rhodri Morgan said the nomination would "have a dramatic effect in helping us build up the media industry in Wales".

Many of the UK's brightest hopes are dotted around US-made productions - either behind or in front of the cameras.

The Big Five: Best picture nominees
American Beauty
The Insider
The Cider House Rules
Sixth Sense
The Green Mile
However, Mike Leigh was nominated for best original screenplay for his movie Topsy-Turvy.

Leigh's take on the life and works of light opera writers Gilbert and Sullivan has been showered with critical acclaim in the US.

The director, famous for his improvisational writing and directing style, praised his cast.

"It's great particularly for me to get a nomination like this, because of the way that everyone contributes so actively," he said.

The ceremony takes place on 26 March and among the British stars presenting statuettes will be nominee Jude Law and last year's best supporting actress, Dame Judi Dench.

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See also:

15 Feb 00 | Entertainment
American Beauty leads Oscars field
15 Feb 00 | Wales
Welsh movie on Oscars list
15 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Mendes: 'I'll stay in UK'
15 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Oscar nominees in full
24 Jan 00 | Entertainment
The Mendes touch
15 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Oscars countdown begins
02 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Brits gain Oscars momentum
25 Jan 00 | Entertainment
American Beauty wins again
10 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Leigh's Topsy-Turvy triumphs
25 Jan 00 | Entertainment
American Beauty, British success
27 Nov 99 | Tom Brook
Janet's Oscar hope
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