31/01/2006

British actresses gain Oscar nominations

Three British actresses have gained nominations in this year's Academy Awards.

Dame Judi Dench and Keira Knightley will go head to head in the Best Actress category for their respective roles in 'Mrs Henderson Presents' and 'Pride and Prejudice', while Rachel Weisz collected a nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category for her role in the thriller 'The Constant Gardener'.

It is the fifth time that Dame Judi has been nominated for an Oscar. In 1998, she won in the Best Supporting Actress category for her role as Queen Elizabeth in 'Shakespeare in Love'.

Knightley's nomination is seen as a surprise, after she was omitted from the BAFTAs shortlist for her performance as Elizabeth Bennett in adaptation of the Jane Austen classic novel.

Both actresses will face stiff competition from Reese Witherspoon, who won awards at both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actor's Guild awards for her role as June Carter Cash in the Johnny Cash biopic 'Walk The Line'.

Former Oscar-winner Charlize Theron is also nominated for her role as a female miner in 'North Country', while 'Desperate Housewives' star Felicity Huffmann gets a nod for her role as a man awaiting a sex-change operation in 'Transamerica'.

Rachel Weisz will be the favourite in the Best Supporting Actress category. She collected awards at both the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards for her role in the John Le Carre thriller, which is also leading the nominations in the BAFTAs. However, hers is the only main nomination for 'The Constant Gardener' in the Academy Awards. It has only three other nominations, including one for Best Adapted Screenplay, while her co-star Ralph Fiennes was snubbed for a Best Actor nomination.

Wesiz will compete against Amy Adams for 'Junebug', Frances McDormand for 'North Country', Catherine Keener for 'Capote' and Michelle Williams for 'Brokeback Mountain' in the category.

'Brokeback Mountain' is the favourite at this year's awards with eight nominations in total, including nods for Best Picture and Best Director for Ang Lee, as well as Best Actor and Supporting Actor nominations for stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal and the Supporting Actress nomination for Williams.

Its main competition will come from Paul Haggis' racial drama 'Crash', which received six nominations, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Matt Dillon and a Best Director nod for Haggis.

George Clooney's 'Good Night and Good Luck' also collected six nominations, including Best Picture, and Best Actor for star David Strathairn. Clooney received three nominations himself, for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for 'Good Night…' and a nod for Best Supporting Actor for his role in 'Syriana'. He will compete against Jake Gyllenhaal, Matt Dillon, former Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti ('Cinderella Man') and William Hurt ('A History of Violence') in that category.

In the Best Actor category, the favourite is likely to be Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who collected awards at both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild awards for his performance as writer Truman Capote in 'Capote'.

Terrence Howard is also nominated for his role in 'Hustle and Flow'.

Joaquin Phoenix, who also won a Golden Globe, will be hotly tipped for his performance as Johnny Cash in 'Walk The Line'.

However, 'Walk The Line' missed out on nominations in both the Best Picture and Best Director awards. 'Capote', however, collected nominations for both Best Picture and Best Director for debut helmer Bennett Miller.

Stephen Spielberg's controversial political thriller 'Munich', which focused on the aftermath of the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics collected five nominations, including nods for both Best Picture and Best Director.

Britain's triple Oscar-winners Aardman Animations will also compete in the Best Animated film category. The critically-acclaimed 'Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit' is nominated alongside 'Howl's Moving Castle' and Tim Burton's 'Corpse Bride'.

(KMcA)




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