The shortlist for the pounds 20,000 prize contains some of the biggest names in the young BritArt scene, and comprises works that the jury believes should be accessible to the public. Indeed, one of the films was said to be "hilarious" by a jury member.
The four nominees are: Tracey Emin, who was one of the hits of last year's Sensation exhibition with her embroidered tent Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995; Steve McQueen, the sculptor and minimalist film-maker; Steven Pippin, who films himself with washing machines turned into cameras; and Jane and Louise Wilson, identical twins who create multi-screen video installations.
The art critic Sacha Craddock, who sits on the Turner jury, said video had become the primary medium for contemporary artists because it was so malleable: "It is dominant at the moment because people have realised that it is not the medium that is important, it's what it says that counts. And there is such a range of things you can do on or with film and video."
There is a rekindling of interest in painting and drawing among members of the contemporary art world, but Ms Craddock defended the lack of painters on this year's Turner shortlist.
"There has been a lot of very strong exhibitions of painting this year, but we did feel that these four on the shortlist are the most special artists of the year and to have added a painter in any kind of token way would have been belittling the work of some really good painters," she said.
The works for which the four artists have been nominated will go on show from 30 October at the Tate Gallery in London, with the winner to be announced a month later.
Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate Gallery and chairman of the jury, said interest in the Turner was just one sign of an interest in new artists.
"There were 120,000 visitors to the Turner shortlist exhibition last year compared with 80,000 the year before and 60,000 in 1996. To have doubled the number of visitors in two years is an indication of a great growth in contemporary Brit-ish art. The Turner is just afocus for that interest, but there's lots going on," he said.
The Contenders For pounds 20,000 Prize
Tracey Emin, 35
Nominated for Sobasex show in Japan and Every Part of Me is Bleeding in New York. Works with embroidery, installations, paintings, live performances and photography. Emin's art is most often based on herself. An embroidered tent was called Everyone I Ever Slept With 1963-1995 and text, Exploration of the Soul, detailed her sexual history.
Steve McQueen, 29
Nominated for Drumroll, a film of him rolling an oil drum through New York. Has exhibited in the US and Europe.Works mainly in film, making references to directors such as Orson Welles and Buster Keaton, but using repetition, editing and close-ups to produce enigmatic films.Turned down a nomination two years ago. Too busy working.
Steve Pippin, 38
Nominated for Laundromat- Locomation. Pippin has turned objects such as bathtubs, a train toilet and washing machines into cameras. In his nominated piece he filmed himself turning all the machines in a launderette into cameras, which then took photos of him naked and a horse walking through the launderette.
Jane (below) and Louise Wilson, 32
Nominated for Gamma, a film of them returning to the abandoned air force base at Greenham Common. The Wilsons, identical twins who produced the same degree shows in separate art colleges, they specialise in haunting films made in abandoned spaces. They filmed the empty corridors of the East German police headquarters for Stasi City.