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The Aviator leads Oscar nominations

Story by: Jack Foley

FOLLOWING its success at the Golden Globes, Martin Scorsese's epic, The Aviator, has emerged as the strong favourite to storm this year's Oscars, especially since it leads the field with 11 nominations.

The Howard Hughes biopic is in the running for best film, best director (Scorsese), best actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), best supporting actress (Cate Blanchett) and best supporting actor (Alan Alda) among others.

Its closest rivals are Clint Eastwood's emotionally powerful boxing drama, Million Dollar Baby, and Johnny Depp's enchanting family drama, Finding Neverland, both with seven nominations each.

Eastwood picked up two personal nominations, for best director and best actor, and joins Jamie Foxx as the only nominee from this year's field to be nominated in two categories.

Foxx followed on from his three nominations at the Golden Globes with a best actor nomination for his performance as Ray Charles in Ray, and in the best supporting actor category, for his performance as a cab driver taken hostage by Tom Cruise's hitman in Michael Mann's Collateral.

In what proved to be a very strong field in all categories, there is plenty for the pundits to speculate about in terms of who, or what, will emerge as winners.

In the best actress category, for example, Million Dollar Baby's Hilary Swank looks odds-on to repeat her Golden Globe triumph, but faces tough competition from the likes of Imelda Staunton for Vera Drake, who has won numerous prizes already, as well as from fellow Brit, Kate Winslet, for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Less likely, is Annette Bening for Being Julia and the surprise package, Catalina Sandino Moreno, for indie hit, Maria Full of Grace.

The bookies have made Scorsese favourite for best director, with The Aviator best film - but expect Eastwood's Baby to counter-punch all the way.

In best film terms, however, both The Aviator and Baby face sterling competition from Finding Neverland, Ray and Sideways (which has topped several of the year-end polls among US critics).

The smart money resides with Scorsese, however, for having been nominated without success on six previous occasions, many believe his time has come - and The Aviator is a great movie!

And while that film's star, DiCaprio, triumphed in the dramatic category at the Golden Globes, he is likely to face a rigorous battle with Ray's Foxx, who won in the best musical or comedy acting category at the Golden Globes.

Also in with a shout for best actor are Eastwood, Johnny Depp and Don Cheadle, for Hotel Rwanda.

British star, Clive Owen, will battle Foxx for the best supporting actor category, having previously been honoured at the Golden Globes for his performance in Closer; while Alan Alda (The Aviator), Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby) and Thomas Haden Church (Sideways) will more than likely run them close.

Aviator star, Cate Blanchett, is favourite for the best supporting actress prize for her gutsy portrayal of screen legend, Katharine Hepburn, but she also faces noteworthy opposition from Virginia Madsen (Sideways), Laura Linney (Kinsey), Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda) and, of course, Natalie Portman, who took the Golden Globe for Closer.

The nominations for the 77th Academy Awards were read by Oscar-winning actor, Adrien Brody, in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning (January 25, 2005).

The awards will be handed out in Hollywood on February 27.

Best film
The Aviator
Million Dollar Baby
Finding Neverland

Best actor
Clint Eastwood - Million Dollar Baby
Jamie Foxx - Ray
Don Cheadle - Hotel Rwanda
Johnny Depp - Finding Neverland
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Aviator

Best actress
Hilary Swank - Million Dollar Baby
Imelda Staunton - Vera Drake
Kate Winslet - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Annette Bening - Being Julia
Catalina Sandino Moreno - Maria Full of Grace

Best supporting actor
Alan Alda - The Aviator
Clive Owen - Closer
Jamie Foxx - Collateral
Thomas Haden Church - Sideways
Morgan Freeman - Million Dollar Baby

Best supporting actress
Cate Blanchett - The Aviator
Virginia Madsen - Sideways
Laura Linney - Kinsey
Sophie Okonedo - Hotel Rwanda
Natalie Portman - Closer

Best director
Martin Scorsese - The Aviator
Clint Eastwood - Million Dollar Baby
Alexander Payne - Sideways
Taylor Hackford - Ray
Mike Leigh - Vera Drake

Best foreign language film
As it is in Heaven - Sweden
The Chorus - France
Downfall - Germany
The Sea Inside - Spain
Yesterday - South Africa

Best animated feature film
The Incredibles
Shark Tale
Shrek 2

Best adapted screenplay
Before Sunset
Finding Neverland
Million Dollar Baby
The Motorcycle Diaries

Best original screenplay
The Aviator
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Hotel Rwanda
The Incredibles
Vera Drake

Best music (score)
Finding Neverland
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Passion of the Christ
The Village

Best music (song)
Accidentally in Love - Shrek 2
Al Otro Lado Del Rio - The Motorcycle Diaries
Believe - The Polar Express
Learn to be Lonely - The Phantom of the Opera
Look to Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin - The Chorus

Best documentary feature
Born into Brothels
The Story of Weeping Camel
Super Size Me
Tupac: Resurrection
Twist of Faith

Best documentary short subject
Autism is a World
The Children of Leningradsky
Mighty Times: The Children's March
Sister Rose's Passion

Best visual effects
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I, Robot
Spider-Man 2

Best cinematography
The Aviator
House of Flying Daggers
The Passion of the Christ
The Phantom of the Opera
A Very Long Engagement

Best art direction
The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Phantom of the Opera
A Very Long Engagement

Best animated short film
Birthday Boy
Gopher Broke
Guard Dog

Best short film
Everything in This Country Must
Little Terrorist
7:35 in the Morning
Two Cars, One Night

Best costume design
The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Best make-up
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Passion of the Christ
The Sea Inside

Best sound mixing
The Aviator
The Incredibles
The Polar Express
Spider-Man 2

Sound editing
The Aviator
The Polar Express
Spider-Man 2

Film Editing
The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Million Dollar Baby

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