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banner Tuesday, 12 February, 2002, 14:49 GMT
Rings leads Oscars race
The Lord of The Rings
Lord of the Rings fans will be hoping it's a lucky 13
The Lord of The Rings leads the race for the 74th Academy Awards, picking up 13 Oscar nominations, including best motion picture.

The fantasy film has also earned its director Peter Jackson a best director nomination.

Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent
Can Iris fly the flag for Britain?
Drama A Beautiful Mind has eight mentions on the shortlist for Hollywood's most prestigious film awards, while lavish musical Moulin Rouge has eight.

All three films are nominated for best picture, together with In The Bedroom and Gosford Park, which has seven nods.

Global box office smash Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone received just three nominations.

Eight British actors and actresses are nominated for awards - including Dame Judi Dench, who is on the best leading actress shortlist for her role as novelist Iris Murdoch in Iris, and Tom Wilkinson, who has a leading actor nod for In The Bedroom.

Lord of the Rings has the second highest tally of Oscar nominations in history, after All About Eve in 1950 and Titanic in 1997, with 14 each.

Will Smith
Will Smith is nominated for Ali
Ben Hur and Titanic have the most Oscar statuette wins, with 11 each.

The battle for Oscars is being seen as among the keenest and closely contested in many years.

Ron Howard, who receives his first nomination as best director, is emerging as a favourite for the award and will battle it out with Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings, Ridley Scott for Black Hawk Down, David Lynch for Mulholland Drive and Robert Altman for Gosford Park.

Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann misses out but if his film does win any awards it will be the first time the academy has honoured a live action musical for more than 20 years.

Sissy Spacek i
Sissy Spacek impressed critics with her role in In the Bedroom
Altman and Scott, in particular, will be hoping to make up for past disappointments.

Last year, Scott missed out on the best director Oscar to Steven Soderbergh, for Traffic, while Altman has five past Oscar nods, four of them for best director.

Russell Crowe will be hoping for a repeat of his triumph last year when he won the best actor Oscar for Gladiator - his performance as the mentally ill mathematician John Nash in Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind has been widely praised.

If he were to win, he would join the élite company of Spencer Tracy and Tom Hanks as the only men to scoop the best actor Oscar in consecutive years.

Russell Crowe won the Golden Globe for A Beautiful Mind
Crowe is hoping for an Oscars double
He will fight it out with Tom Wilkinson, Sean Penn, for I Am Sam, Will Smith, for Ali, and Denzel Washington, for Training Day.

It is the first time that two black performers are up for the best leading actor award, and comes in the same year that Sidney Poitier, the first black actor to win the best leading actor Oscar, receives a lifetime achievement award.

First time nominees Halle Berry and Nicole Kidman are the favourites for the best actress award, for roles in Monster's Ball and Moulin Rouge respectively.

Oscar favourite Dame Judi Dench will provide stern competition, along with former winner Sissy Spacek, for In the Bedroom and Renée Zellweger, a surprise inclusion for her role in British comedy Bridget Jones's Diary.

Jennifer Connelly
Jennifer Connelly impresses in A Beautiful Mind
In the supporting actors' category, British actors dominate, with six nods out of the 10 nominations.

Jim Broadbent has a nomination for Iris, while Sir Ben Kingsley is chosen for British film Sexy Beast and Sir Ian McKellen for his role as the wizard Gandalf in the first Lord of the Rings movie.

There are also nominations also for Ethan Hawke, for Training Day, and Jon Voight, for Ali.

British stars Kate Winslet, for Iris, Dame Maggie Smith for Gosford Park and Helen Mirren, also for Gosford Park, are in the running in the supporting actress category.

They will compete alongside Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind) and Marisa Tomei (In the Bedroom).

Robert Altman
Robert Altman: Gosford Park has seven nominations
And in the best song category two of the biggest names in music, British stars Sting and Sir Paul McCartney, will go head to head for their music for Kate and Leopold and Vanilla Sky respectively.

The academy's 5,500 voting members - described as "feature film professionals" - decide who is nominated for Oscars.

The winners will be announced on Sunday 24 March in a lavish ceremony at the Oscars' new Hollywood home, the Kodak Theater.

Last year saw Gladiator win five awards, with Erin Brockovich, Traffic and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon also doing well.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rosie Millard
"British acting talent across the board has been rewarded by Hollywood"
Moulin Rouge
Watch a clip from Moulin Rouge
A Beautiful Mind
Watch a clip from A Beautiful Mind
The Lord of the Rings
Watch a clip from The Lord of the Rings
In the Bedroom
Watch a clip from In the Bedroom
Gosford Park
Watch a clip from Gosford Park
See also:

26 Mar 01 | Film
Crowe leads Gladiator to glory
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