The nominees for the 2009 Academy awards are to be revealed in Beverly Hills later today.

Favourites for success at the 81st Oscars include Golden Globe winner Slumdog Millionaire, British actress Kate Winslet and the late Heath Ledger.

Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire won four Golden Globes earlier this month - including best picture and best director - and with superb word of mouth and critical acclaim, is expected to feature prominently in today's nominations.

Oscar-winner Forrest Whitaker will announce the shortlists at 05:30 Los Angeles time (13:30 GMT).

Competition for Slumdog Millionaire in the best picture category is likely to come from David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon and Gus Van Sant's political biopic Milk.

Elsewhere, Winslet is expected to pick up a best actress nomination for Revolutionary Road, having claimed the same honour at the Golden Globes.

Though she was also named best supporting actress for The Reader, some critics have speculated that she will be nominated twice in the best actress category, rather than being split between shortlists.

The 33-year-old is yet to win an Oscar, despite five nominations.

The Wrestler star Mickey Rourke is a favourite to claim the best actor award - though Brad Pitt and Sean Penn are likely to provide strong competition - while a posthumous best supporting actor nomination for Ledger's turn in The Dark Knight is a near certainty.

The winners of the 81st Academy awards will be announced in Los Angeles on February 22nd.

22/01/2009 09:45:11