Dame Helen heads British Oscar line-up

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The Independent Culture

Dame Helen Mirren leads a surprisingly strong British contingent for this year's Oscar nominations.

She is favourite to land the best actress award for her role in The Queen.

Britons dominate the category - there are also nominations for Dame Judi Dench as an embittered schoolmistress in Notes On A Scandal and Kate Winslet as a frustrated mother in Little Children.

Peter O'Toole picked up his eighth Oscar nomination - and his first in 24 years - at the age 74 for his performance as an ageing actor who falls for a young woman in Venus.

The Queen is a contender for best film alongside Babel, The Departed, Letters From Iwo Jima and Little Miss Sunshine.

And there are two British nominees for best director - Stephen Frears for The Queen and Paul Greengrass for United 93, his harrowing depiction of the last hours aboard a doomed 9/11 flight.

Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen is nominated for best adapted screenplay.

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