British Oscar hopes high

Helen Mirren is said to be a certainty for an Oscar nomination today for her role in The Queen, with a host of fellow British actors hoping to join her.

Helen Mirren is said to be a certainty for an Oscar nomination today for her role in The Queen, with a host of fellow British actors hoping to join her.

She could find herself in competition with Judi Dench and Kate Winslet.

Winslet is tipped to be nominated for her role as a frustrated mother in Little Children.

Dench could pick up her sixth nomination for her portrayal of an embittered schoolteacher in Notes On A Scandal.

Other actresses in the frame are Meryl Streep for The Devil Wears Prada, Toni Colette for Little Miss Sunshine, Penelope Cruz for Volver and Annette Bening for Running With Scissors.

The main British hopes in the best actor category are Sacha Baron Cohen for Borat and Peter O’Toole for Venus.

O’Toole, 74, plays an elderly man who falls for a teenage girl.

The hot favourite to land the best actor award is Forest Whitaker for his portrayal of dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.

Leonardo DiCaprio is also tipped for Blood Diamond and has a shot at the best supporting actor category for The Departed.

Will Smith could also pick up a nomination for his starring role in The Pursuit of Happyness.

Eddie Murphy is likely to land a best supporting actor nod for Dreamgirls.

His co-star Jennifer Hudson, a former American Idol runner-up, should get a best supporting actress nomination.

Emily Blunt is the main British contender in the category for her role as a bitchy fashion assistant in The Devil Wears Prada.

Best-film contenders include The Queen, The Last King of Scotland, Babel, Bobby, Little Miss Sunshine, The Departed and United 93.

The best director category is likely to feature Martin Scorsese for The Departed, Clint Eastwood for Letters From Iwo Jima, Stephen Frears for The Queen and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Babel.

Outside chances include Paul Greengrass for United 93 and husband-and-wife team Jonhan Dayton and Valerie Faris for Little Miss Sunshine.

The Queen should pick up another nomination in the best original screenplay category.

The nominees will be announced in Los Angeles later today.

The 79th annual Academy Awards take place on Sunday February 25, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.

Viewers on this side of the Atlantic can watch the ceremony live on Sky Movies.

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