And this year's winner is ... unlikely to be a home-grown screen star

A world-weary Michael Caine in 'The Quiet American' receives nomination for best actor against Pacino and Nicholson

Michael Caine's portrayal of a world-weary journalist in The Quiet American has pitted him against Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson for the actor of the year honour in the 23rd annual awards of the London Film Critics' Circle.

He is a rare British star to appear beyond the categories reserved for British performers and directors into those honouring the best in films worldwide.

Only The Road to Perdition, directed by the young British turk Sam Mendes but backed by the might of Steven Spielberg, maintains a glimmer of British honour in the prestigious film of the year award, chosen by London reviewers and announced yesterday.

It will find itself up against the acclaimed Australian film Lantana, the dark comedy Donnie Darko, Michael Moore's anti-guns tirade Bowling for Columbine and About Schmidt, the Jack Nicholson film yet to open in the UK.

British film of the year will be contested by Mike Leigh's All or Nothing, about a family on a south London housing estate, About a Boy starring Hugh Grant in Nick Hornby's story of a feckless thirtysomething male, and Sweet Sixteen, the latest gritty drama from Ken Loach.

All or Nothing stands a strong chance of success at the ceremony, which will be held at the Dorchester Hotel in London on 12 February, with a total of five nominations including best British director and best screenplay for Mike Leigh.

Lesley Manville, its star, is nominated for best British actress against Samantha Morton, for the Scottish film Morvern Callar, and Miranda Richardson, for Spider.

But Timothy Spall, Man-ville's co-star, is not nominated for British actor: that is between Hugh Grant for About a Boy, Ralph Fiennes in Spider and Chiwetel Ejiofor, for Dirty Pretty Things.

Sweet Sixteen, Ken Loach's film about a young lad who ends up dealing in drugs, receives three nominations, including British newcomer of the year for its young star, Martin Compston. Compston, who is said not yet to have decided whether to pursue an acting career, faces competition from Asif Kapadia in The Warrior and Keira Knightly, whose footballing prowess in Bend It Like Beckham has since been followed by costume drama angst in ITV's Doctor Zhivago.

Halle Berry, who won an Oscar for Monster's Ball, is up for further glory in the best actress category against Kerry Armstrong for Lantana and Stockard Channing in The Business of Strangers.

Emily Watson, who won the London Critics' Circle best British actress honour in 1999, is in the running for the British supporting actress title this year. Her rivals are Ruth Sheen, Maureen in All or Nothing, and Shirley Henderson, for her part in the Manchester music scene picture, 24 Hour Party People. The title of British actor in a supporting role will be fought out by Jude Law, as the hitman in Road to Perdition, Kenneth Branagh for Harry Potter and Paul Bettany in A Beautiful Mind.

In the best British director category, Mike Leigh is joined by Sam Mendes, in a third nomination for Road to Perdition. The final contender is Christopher Nolan for the compelling detective story, Insomnia, for which Al Pacino has won a best actor nomination.

The nominees

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

1 Talk to Her

2 Y Tu Mama Tambien

3 The Son's Room

BRITISH NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR

1 Keira Knightley (Bend it Like Beckham)

2 Martin Compston (Sweet Sixteen)

3 Asif Kapadia (The Warrior) BRITISH SCREENWRITER

1 Paul Laverty (Sweet Sixteen)

2 Mike Leigh (All or Nothing)

3 Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things)

SCREENWRITER

1 David Self (The Road to Perdition)

2 Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding)

3 Andrew Bovell (Lantana)

BRITISH ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

1 Ruth Sheen (All or Nothing)

2 Emily Watson (Red Dragon)

3 Shirley Henderson (24-Hour Party People)

BRITISH ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

1 Jude Law (The Road to Perdition)

2 Kenneth Branagh (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)

3 Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind)

BRITISH ACTRESS

1 Samantha Morton (Morven Callar) Momentum

2 Lesley Manville (All Or Nothing)

3 Miranda Richardson (Spider)

ACTRESS

1 Halle Berry (Monster's Ball)

2 Kerry Armstrong (Lantana)

3 Stockard Channing (The Business of Strangers)

BRITISH ACTOR

1 Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things)

2 Hugh Grant (About a Boy)

3 Ralph Fiennes (Spider)

ACTOR

1 Michael Caine (The Quiet American) Buena Vista

2 Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt) Entertainment

3 Al Pacino (Insomnia)

BRITISH DIRECTOR

1 Sam Mendes (The Road to Perdition)

2 Christopher Nolan (Insomnia)

3 Mike Leigh (All Or Nothing)

DIRECTOR

1 Pedro Almodovar (Talk to Her)

2 Phillip Noyce (The Quiet American/Rabbit-Proof Fence)

3 Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings)

BRITISH FILM OF THE YEAR

1 All Or Nothing

2 About a Boy

3 Sweet Sixteen

FILM OF THE YEAR

1 The Road to Perdition

2 Lantana

3 About Schmidt

4 Donnie Darko

5 Bowling for Columbine

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