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Chicago dances to 13 Oscar nominations

Beverly Hills, Feb. 11 (Reuters): Musical Chicago danced around the competition at the Oscars today, scoring 13 nominations including best film, as the US film industry’s top award show entered its final act.

The movie, which has dazzled audiences with its adaptation of the Broadway stage show about an actress whose murderous ways make her a media star, also earned a nomination for Renee Zellweger in the best actress category but failed to earn star Richard Gere a nomination in the best actor group.

Epic The Gangs of New York, about gang wars in 19th century New York and The Hours, a drama that ponders matters of life and death and centres on writer Virginia Woolf, followed Chicago with 10 and 9 nominations, respectively, also including best film.

Rounding out the list of best movie nominees were the story of a battle for Middle Earth, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and in a surprise, Holocaust drama The Pianist.

Meryl Streep earned her 13th nomination as an actress, surpassing screen legend Katharine Hepburn as the most nominated actress. Streep landed in the category for best supporting actress for her role as a writer in offbeat drama Adaptation, but was left out of the best actress grouping for her widely-touted part in The Hours.

Julianne Moore could become the first performer to win in two categories in the same year, after she was nominated as best actress for drama Far From Heaven and in the supporting actress category for The Hours.

“It’s a wonderful year for the women, and also the movies themselves are so diverse,” said Frank Pierson, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars each year.

This year’s Oscar ceremony will take place on Sunday, March 23 and will be broadcast live on television from Los Angeles. Indeed, most pundits believe 2002 was a solid year for the movies, as evidenced by the close race for nominations this year which saw early favourites, About Schmidt and Adaptation edged out of the best film category.

About Schmidt star Jack Nicholson, however, was nominated for best actor for his starring role in the film about a retired man searching for meaning to his life. It was Nicholson's 12th Oscar nomination in his career, earning him the distinction of having more nominations than any other actor.

Joining him in the best actor grouping were Adrien Brody in The Pianist, Nicolas Cage for Adaptation, Michael Caine for The Quiet American and Daniel Day-Lewis for Gangs of New York.

Along with Zellweger and Moore in the best actress category were Nicole Kidman, who portrayed suicidal writer Virginia Woolf in The Hours, Salma Hayek for Frida, about Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and Diane Lane in Unfaithful.

In the best supporting actress category, joining Streep and Moore were Chicago co-stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Queen Latifah and Kathy Bates for About Schmidt.

Supporting actor nominees were veteran Paul Newman for Road to Perdition, Ed Harris for The Hours, Chris Cooper for Adaptation, Christopher Walken for Catch Me if You Can and John C. Reilly in Chicago.

Best director nominees were Martin Scorsese for Gangs, Roman Polanski for Pianist, Spain’s Pedro Almodovar for Talk to Her, Stephen Daldry for The Hours, and Oscar newcomer Rob Marshall for Chicago.

Finally, foreign language film nominees were Mexico’s El Crimen Del Padre Amaro, China’s Hero, Finland’s The Man Without a Past, Germany’s Nowhere in Africa, and the Dutch film Zus & Zo.

Devdas out

Bollywood blockbuster Devdas lost out in the foreign film category. Despite the media hype it created as India’s official entry, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Rs 38 crore film failed to make the cut.

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