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Globally Diverse Group Competing for Hollywood's Oscars - 2004-02-28

Preparations are complete in Hollywood, California for one of the most important nights in the American Entertainment industry. The annual Academy Awards ceremony, which honors excellence in filmmaking, will be held Sunday, February 29. Those nominated this year for these awards, known as Oscars, represent the most globally diverse group in the Academy Award's 76-year history.

Alan Silverman, film critic and host of Hollywood Highlights, tells us who's been nominated and who he predicts may win Academy Awards in four key categories. In the 'Best Actor in a Leading Role category', Bill Murray, one of America's favorite comedic actors, has been nominated, but faces some strong competition, as Mr. Silverman explains.

"Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, he plays an American Actor, he's been hired to go to another country, in this case Japan, to do a television commercial, but he's up against an interesting group of challengers in that 'best actor' category," he explains. "There's Ben Kingsley, a former Oscar winner, Jude Law, another English actor for Cold Mountain, Johnny Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean, the one who's expected to win the Oscar, Sean Penn for his very showy performance in Mystic River."

The nominees in the 'Best Actress in a Leading Role' category represent the global influence of motions pictures today. Actresses that hail from countries such New Zealand, Great Britain, Australia, South Africa and the United States have been nominated.

"Naomi Watts for a very powerful performance in that film 21 Grams, Samantha Morton in In America, then there's the 'history maker', Keisha Castle Hughes, who was 11-years- old when she made the film Whale Rider," he notes. "But, the oldest of the nominees this year is Diane Keaton, in the film Something's Gotta Give. The one who's expected to take home the gold is Charlize Theron, portraying a real life serial killer. It's frightening to see, a difficult movie to watch, probably going to be the 'Best Actress.'" Peter Jackson who directed all three films in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is favored to be the winner in the 'Achievement in Directing category', but he too faces competition from other nominees including the daughter of famous Oscar winning director Francis Ford Coppola. Mr. Silverman has the nominees in the Best Director category.

"This seems to be the year for Peter Jackson and Lord of the Rings. In many ways it's expected that he's going to take home the best directing Oscar, but category again it's a very global looking category," he adds. "We have Mystic River, Clint Eastwood nominated, Peter Weir, for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Fernando Meirelles, the Director from Brazil of this amazing film The City of God. And then there's Peter Jackson's biggest competition, Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation.

Traditionally the 'Best Picture' nominees are the motion pictures of those nominated for best director, but this year, there's a break in tradition, as Alan Silverman explains.

'Best Picture' nominees are also the 'Best Directing' nominees. But this year we don't have that. In fact we have a 'Best Picture' nominee that apparently directed itself, Seabiscuit, the film that portrays the 'dark horse come from behind' victory of a racehorse in the 1930s that gave America a lot of hope," he explains. "But otherwise we have Lord of the Rings, Lost in Translation, Master and Commander and Mystic River all represented in the 'Best Picture' category and represented in the 'Best Directing' Category.