Sunday, the eyes of the world will be on Hollywood, where the Academy Awards, or Oscars, will be presented. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, this year's movie honors have an international flavor.
Peter O'Toole, Irish-born and raised in Britain, is an acting nominee for his leading role in the film Venus. Helen Mirren will compete for the best-actress award for her role as the British monarch Elizabeth II in The Queen. Mirren is British herself, but the task of portraying a well-known figure was formidable, and critics have called the depiction uncannily accurate.
How did she do it? Reporters asked her at a recent luncheon for Oscar nominees.
"It is called imagination," she said. "And that is what we do as actors. We imagine. You know, you are never in the real, real world of the film or the play that you are doing. You have to imagine and put yourself there."
Just one nominee in the Best Actress category is American this year, Meryl Streep for the fashion-industry satire The Devil Wears Prada. Two nominees are British, Judi Dench for Notes on a Scandal and Kate Winslet for Little Children, and Spain's Penelope Cruz is a nominee for the comedy-drama Volver.
"It is a huge honor to be nominated, to be in the company of these amazing actresses," Cruz said. "This is such a strong year. And it is even more special, the fact that I got the nomination with a movie that is Spanish-speaking."
African-born Djimon Hounsou is nominated for best supporting actor for Blood Diamond. The film starring best-actor nominee Leonardo DiCaprio is a tale of conflict and greed in Sierra Leone of the 1990s. American Forest Whitaker is best-actor nominee for his role as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.
Japan's Rinko Kikuchi and Mexico's Adriana Barraza are nominees for their supporting roles in the international thriller Babel.
Babel's Mexican director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, will compete for the Oscar for best director. The film's Mexican screenwriter, Guillermo Arriaga, is an Oscar nominee for his original screenplay, and Guillermo del Toro is a double nominee for another Mexican entry, Pan's Labyrinth. That fantasy film is nominated in six categories.
Babel and The Queen will compete for the Oscar for best picture, along with the Japanese-language war film Letters from Iwo Jima from American director Clint Eastwood. Other nominees in the best-picture category are the crime thriller The Departed and the comedy Little Miss Sunshine.
The Oscars are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and academy president Sid Ganis says this year's event will have an international flavor.
"Isn't that brilliant, that there are movies from all over the world? The art of film was never meant to be an American phenomenon," he said. "It is art. So it is for the world, and artists all over the world are scoring in a big way. It is very great, wonderful."
The Oscar telecast is also international. Viewers in more than 100 countries can watch the Hollywood ceremony.