Knightley and Dench vie for Golden Globes

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The Independent Online

Keira Knightley and Dame Judi Dench will lead a host of British hopefuls at the Golden Globes, as they go head to head for a best actress award.

Knightley, 20, has been shortlisted for her performance as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride And Prejudice, while Dame Judi is nominated for her starring role as a theatre owner in Mrs Henderson Presents.

They will compete with favourite Reese Witherspoon, Laura Linney and Sarah Jessica Parker for the prize of best actress in a musical or comedy at the 63rd annual ceremony in Los Angeles.

Both the British films have been nominated for best musical or comedy picture at the awards, which are seen as a strong tip for Oscar glory.

Another Briton, Rachel Weisz, has a shot at best supporting actress for her role in The Constant Gardener.

Irishman Pierce Brosnan is nominated for best actor in a musical or comedy for The Matador, while Bob Hoskins has a best supporting actor nomination for Mrs Henderson Presents.

BBC blockbuster Rome, a co-production with US network HBO, is up for best TV drama series and its British star, Polly Walker, for best performance by an actress in a TV drama series.

And BBC3 series Blackpool, Hugh Laurie in medical drama House, Lost actor Naveen Andrews, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy and Jonathan Rhys Meyers are also shortlisted.

Gay cowboy film Brokeback Mountain leads the pack with seven nominations.

They include best picture, best actor for Heath Ledger, best actress for Michelle Williams and best director for Ang Lee.

The other best picture contenders are John Le Carre thriller The Constant Gardener, George Clooney's Good Night And Good Luck, mobster story A History Of Violence and Woody Allen's London film Match Point.

Nominees for best musical or comedy picture are Pride And Prejudice, Mrs Henderson Presents, Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line, divorce tale The Squid And The Whale and the big screen version of The Producers.

The four stars of Desperate Housewives - Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria - are all nominated for best TV actress in a comedy or musical series.

Huffman is also up for best drama actress for her role in Transamerica.

When the nominations were announced, Knightley said her inclusion was completely unexpected and that her mother had pointed out she would not win.

The actress, who shot to fame in 2002 with Bend It Like Beckham, said playing Jane Austen's heroine had been a daunting experience.

Welsh-born actor Sir Anthony Hopkins will also be honoured with the Cecil B DeMille award for lifetime achievement.

Sir Anthony, 67, won an Oscar for his chilling role as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence Of The Lambs and has been nominated for six Golden Globes since 1978.

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