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Long-awaited Oscar nominations due Tuesday

Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind
"A Beautiful Mind," with Russell Crowe, is considered a front-runner for best picture, and Crowe's performance is expected to earn him a nomination for best actor.  

(CNN) -- It's the one morning when all Hollywood gets up before the sunrise.

The eagerly anticipated nominations for the 74th annual Academy Awards will be announced just after 5:30 a.m. Tuesday PST (8:30 a.m. EST) in Los Angeles, with actress Marcia Gay Harden leading a brief, televised ceremony.

Many of those who have money on the nominations are betting fistfuls on "A Beautiful Mind," which is likely to earn nods for best picture and for Russell Crowe's studied portrayal of a brilliant and mentally ill mathematician. Still more could go to Jennifer Connelly for best actress and to Ron Howard for best director.

Also well-positioned is "Gosford Park," Robert Altman's acclaimed comedy-drama that features an all-star British cast. Altman's likely to get a best director nod for his "Upstairs, Downstairs"-style juggling act. And look for actress Helen Mirren to earn her second supporting actress nomination.

Winning the Oscar can boost the box office success of a film, causing many studios to campaign for the coveted golden statuette. CNN's Anne McDermott reports (February 12)

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RESOURCES All about Oscars 2002 Oscars 2002 
What movie will get the most Oscar nominations?

'In the Bedroom'
'The Lord of the Rings'
'A Beautiful Mind'
'Moulin Rouge'
'Black Hawk Down'
something else
View Results

Don't be surprised if "In the Bedroom," the grim drama from first-time director Todd Field, attracts more than a few nominations. In addition to drawing some of the best reviews of 2001, the film comes from Miramax, frequently adept at marketing to Oscar voters.

Sissy Spacek has won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of a grieving mom in "In the Bedroom," and the film could snag more nominations for best picture, best actor (Tom Wilkinson), best supporting actress (Marisa Tomei) and best director.

Other front-runners in the best picture race include "Black Hawk Down," "Moulin Rouge" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

Could 'Lord' rule?

This may also be a year of landmarks. For the first time, cartoons are competing in a new category for best feature-length animated film. "Shrek" and "Monsters, Inc." are expected to duke it out for that honor, with one other animated nominee as second runner-up.

The best-actor category might include two black nominees, another first. And it could be the first time since 1972 that three black actors are nominated for lead acting roles.

In the best-picture category, the live-action musical could score its first nomination in more than 20 years. And the fantasy epic, never a favorite among Academy Awards voters, may have its best shot to win.

"Shrek" is a leading possibility in the new Oscar category for full-length animated features.  

That fantasy is one of the top box office draws of 2001, "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring." Ian McKellen may also earn a nod for his work as the gray-bearded Gandalf.

"I'm thrilled the film is sort of transcending the genre a little bit," the movie's director, Peter Jackson, has told The Associated Press.

Other favorites among the actors include Denzel Washington, the American Film Institute's best actor for "Training Day"; Billy Bob Thornton for "The Man Who Wasn't There"; Will Smith for "Ali"; and Kevin Spacey in "The Shipping News."

Other potential nominees among the women include Judi Dench for "Iris"; Nicole Kidman for "The Others" and "Moulin Rouge"; Stockard Channing for "The Business of Strangers"; and Halle Berry for "Monster's Ball."

Big business

Moulin Rouge starring Kidman
If "Moulin Rouge" gets nominated for best picture, it will be the first musical since 1979's "All That Jazz" to receive the honor. Nicole Kidman is also an Oscar possibility.  

If "Moulin Rouge" is nominated for best picture, it would be the first live-action musical nominated for that honor since "All That Jazz" in 1979. (The animated musical "Beauty and the Beast" was nominated for best picture in 1991. The last musical to win was "Oliver!" in 1968.)

Awards attention for "Moulin Rouge" and its respectable box-office receipts worldwide may help revive the movie musical, director Baz Luhrmann has told the AP.

"I've been on that mission, and I feel like I've done my part to kick the door in," Luhrmann said. "Give it 24 months and see how many new musicals are around."

More than a mere ego trip for actors and moviemakers, the Oscars are big business, and the nominations mark the culmination of months of intense marketing and lobbying by the studios.

The awards ceremony is scheduled to be broadcast March 24 from the Kodak Theatre.


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