Actors are waiting with bated breath today as the much-anticipated nominations for the 79th Academy Awards are set to be announced.

Films expected to be given the nod for best picture include Babel, The Queen and The Last King of Scotland  all of which have emerged victorious at recent awards ceremonies including the Golden Globes.

British actress Helen Mirren is thought to be one of the strongest contenders for best actress for her role in the critically acclaimed film on the British monarchy, The Queen.

Other actresses in line for a nomination are Penelope Cruz (Volver), Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada) and Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine).

Mirren is not the only Brit who could be going home with a coveted golden statuette however; Kate Winslet and Judi Dench are possible contenders for their roles in Little Children and Notes On A Scandal respectively.

Hollywood rumours place Forest Whitaker in the running for best actor for The Last King of Scotland, but he could see competition from Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness) and Peter O'Toole (Venus).

Martin Scorsese is leading the way for best director for The Departed after he won the same honour at the Golden Globes last week.

Nominations are due to be announced at 13:30 GMT this afternoon, with the ceremony taking place on February 25th.

23/01/2007 11:57:58