Leading article: Film festival

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Frank Capra once observed that: "The Oscar is the most valuable, but least expensive, item of world-wide public relations ever invented by any industry." A glance at this year's nominations suggests why the Academy Awards are still as alluring as ever. This year's ceremony will see fantasy extravaganzas such as Avatar and Inglourious Basterds go up against gritty, low-budget jewels like The Hurt Locker and Precious. There's also an animated film, Up, in the best film category. Hollywood's big awards will be a broad church.

There's human drama too, with Kathryn Bigelow competing with her ex-husband, James Cameron, for the best director gong. There's one serious test of the amicability of a break-up.

Two former Independent writers, Lynn Barber and Nick Hornby, will be involved too thanks to the nomination for An Education for best adapted screenplay. What more entertainment could one ask for? Oh, and some of the films apparently aren't bad either.

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