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Helen and Kate in running as Oscar nods announced

January 22, 2007
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The final countdown to the Oscars has begun with British talent leading the field in the best actress category. As widely predicted, The Queen star Helen Mirren is one of the nominees, as are Judi Dench for Notes On A Scandal and Kate Winslet for Little Children.

They face competition from Volver star Penelope Cruz and The Devil Wears Prada's Meryl Streep, who receives her 14th nomination. Dame Helen's acclaimed movie, about the British monarchy in the wake of Princess Diana's death, is also up for best director, best original screenplay and the coveted best picture award.

Other films shortlisted for the best picture honour are crime thriller The Departed, Clint Eastwood's war drama Letters From Iwo Jima, budget hit Little Miss Sunshine and Brad Pitt vehicle Babel.

Nominees in the race for the best actor gong, announced by Salma Hayek, include Forest Whitaker for The Last King Of Scotland, Canadian actor Ryan Gosling for Half Nelson, Peter O'Toole for Venus and Will Smith for The Pursuit Of Happyness.

Musical flick Dreamgirls gained the most nods with eight nominations. These included one for American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson in the best supporting actress category, although the movie iteself was left out of the best picture category. Babel was close behind with seven nods while the youngest nominee was ten-year-old Abigail Breslin, named in the best supporting actress category for her star turn in Little Miss Sunshine.

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres will host the February 25 awards ceremony at LA's Kodak Theatre for the first time, following in the footsteps of Billy Crystal and Steve Martin.

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Photo: ©
Salma, pictured with Academy president Sid Ganis, announces the much-anticipated nominees for this OscarsPhoto: © Getty Imagesy
Photo: ©
The February ceremony looks set to be a great night for the Brits, with Kate and Judi both up for the best actress honour alongside The Queen star Helen Photo: © Getty Images