Staunton and Winslet lead strong British contingent for Globes

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The Independent Culture

British actors, including Kate Winslet, Clive Owen, Liam Neeson and Imelda Staunton, were named yesterday as contenders for the Golden Globes, the American film awards with a record of predicting the Oscars.

British actors, including Kate Winslet, Clive Owen, Liam Neeson and Imelda Staunton, were named yesterday as contenders for the Golden Globes, the American film awards with a record of predicting the Oscars.

British films, including Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Finding Neverland, are also in the running for the awards which are selected by the small but influential band of reporters in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

The American road-trip comedy Sideways leads the nominations with seven, followed by The Aviator, a biopic of the life of Howard Hughes, with six. Jamie Foxx was nominated for his performances in the movie Ray, about the life of the singer Ray Charles, and in Collateral, with another for a television feature, Redemption.

But British talent was keeping up. Closer, the English playwright Patrick Marber's own adaptation of the stage play which was originally a success at the National Theatre, was tipped for an award and gets five nominations.

Clive Owen, an original cast member, is shortlisted for supporting actor and his co-star Natalie Portman for best actress although their co-stars, Julia Roberts and Jude Law, lose out. Marber himself is up for best screenplay while the director, Mike Nichols, is nominated for best director.

Finding Neverland, which like Closer was filmed in Britain, also receives five nominations, including best actor for Johnny Depp as Peter Pan's creator J M Barrie. He will find himself up against Liam Neeson's performance as the sex researcher Alfred Kinsey in Kinsey and Leonardo DiCaprio's lead role in Howard Hughes.

The other film to receive five nominations is the new Clint Eastwood feature, Million Dollar Baby.

Imelda Staunton, who has already won several awards for her performance as a back-street abortionist in Mike Leigh's Film Council-backed Vera Drake, received her Golden Globe nomination on the same day as she was named best actress by the New York Film Critics Circle.

"It's great," she said. "I hope these nominations make people go and see the film [it opens on 7 January] and it's very nice to be accepted in another country. But to be honest, I've already had my prize; it has been the best working experience of my life."

She added that the British were good at ignoring their own success, but the list of British talent in the nominations was long. "We take pride in not celebrating things like that," she said.

Several films were shot in Britain that also received nominations, including De-Lovely, about the life of the composer Cole Porter, and the quintessentially British comic creation, Bridget Jones, even if she was played by an American. Renée Zellweger is nominated for best musical or comedy actress for her reprise of Ms Jones.

Her rivals include Kate Winslet for her performance as Jim Carrey's girlfriend in the offbeat Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Emmy Rossum as a musical stage ingénue in The Phantom of the Opera and Annette Bening as a London stage diva in Being Julia.

The Motorcycle Diaries, an international collaboration on Che Guevara, supported by Channel 4, is a contender for best foreign language film.

Last year's Golden Globes correctly predicted eventual Oscar winners in all main categories. This year's Oscar event will take place on 16 January.

The Golden Globes are also aimed at television. Sex and the City and The Sopranos are shortlisted along with new series such as Deadwood, starring Ian McShane. Emily Watson, Miranda Richardson and Patrick Stewart are among the British actors in contention.

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