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THE OSCAR NOMINATIONS

Best actress

January 24, 2007|Susan King

Penelope Cruz

"Volver"

The 32-year-old Spanish actress picks up her first Academy Award nomination for her role in Pedro Almodovar's drama as a woman who is visited by the ghost of her mother. Cruz, who starred in the 1992 Oscar-winning best foreign language film, "Belle Epoque," had previously collaborated with the writer-director in 1997's "Live Flesh" and 1999's "All About My Mother." She shared the best actress award at Cannes with her costars in "Volver" and received Golden Globe and SAG award nominations. If Cruz wins the actress Oscar, she'd be the first to receive the honor for a foreign language film since Sophia Loren for 1961's "Two Women."

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Judi Dench

"Notes on a Scandal"

The venerable British actress, 72, garners her sixth Oscar nomination -- and her fourth in the best actress category -- for her demanding turn as a lonely, manipulative, sexually ambiguous teacher who befriends the school's beautiful new art teacher. Long considered one of her country's royal treasures, Dench received a best supporting actress Oscar for her eight-minute performance as Queen Elizabeth in "Shakespeare in Love." Dench was nominated for a Golden Globe and is in contention for a SAG award for "Notes."

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Helen Mirren

"The Queen"

The 61-year-old British actress receives her third Academy Award nomination -- her first in the best actress category -- for her indelible portrait of Britain's Elizabeth II.

Mirren, who had been nominated for supporting actress for 1994's "The Madness of King George" and 2001's "Gosford Park," is considered the front-runner in this category, having won the Golden Globe and the majority of critics' awards, including the Los Angeles, New York and National Society of Film Critics awards. Mirren is also nominated for Screen Actors Guild best actress awards for "Elizabeth I" as well as for "The Queen."

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Meryl Streep

"The Devil Wears Prada"

The most Oscar-nominated performer in Academy Award history, Streep garners her 14th nomination for her performance as the demanding fashion magazine editor in the comedy. The 57-year-old Streep, who made her feature debut 30 years ago in "Julia," previously won two Oscars -- best supporting actress for 1979's "Kramer vs. Kramer" and best actress for 1982's "Sophie's Choice." She recently won the Golden Globe for best actress in a motion picture comedy or musical for "Prada" and is a SAG award nominee.

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Kate Winslet

"Little Children"

For her performance as an unhappy suburban wife and mother who enters into an illicit affair, the 31-year-old British actress earns her fifth Oscar nomination and her third in the best actress category. She has already set two Oscar records, earning two nominations by the age of 22, and four nominations before turning 30. She was previously nominated for supporting actress for 1995's "Sense and Sensibility" and 2001's "Iris," and she received best actress nods for 1997's "Titanic" and 2004's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Winslet was a Golden Globe nominee this year and is in contention for a SAG award.

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-- Susan King

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