Gladiator and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon led the field in the 2000 Academy Award nominations announced this morning in Los Angeles, which generated a few surprises and set some unusual records.

Crouching Tiger became only the third foreign-language film in history to win a Best Picture nomination as well as a Best Foreign Language Film nod, while Steven Soderbergh became the first director since Michael Curtiz in 1938 to win two Best Director nominations - for Traffic and Erin Brockovich. Not even Francis Ford Coppola achieved that feat in 1974 when both The Conversation and The Godfather - Part II were released.

Ang Lee won his first Best Director nomination for Crouching Tiger which, with ten nominations, is the most nominated foreign language film in history. The film's other nominations were for screenplay, cinematography, art direction, costume design, editing, music and song.

Meanwhile Gladiator took the most nominations - 12 - including best picture and Ridley Scott's second best director after Thelma And Louise a decade ago. Russell Crowe won his second consecutive best actor nomination and Joaquin Phoenix his first for best supporting actor.

Other key films were the two by Soderbergh. Sceptics had warned that Traffic - with its drugs theme - would fail to snag a Best Picture nod, but they were wrong. The critically praised movie beat out more Academy-friendly films like Almost Famous and Billy Elliot to land a place in the final five alongside Soderbergh's other film of the year Erin Brockovich. The only problem facing Soderbergh now is that, like at the recent Golden Globes, he will split his own vote and walk away empty-handed.

Julia Roberts won her third acting nomination for Erin Brockovich and already ranks as the hot favourite to win; she was joined by her cast-mate Albert Finney who wins his fifth nomination. However Benicio Del Toro is the obvious choice for Best Supporting Actor in Soderbergh's other film Traffic.

It was a triumphant win for Sony Pictures Classics which released Crouching Tiger as well as Pollock which came out of nowhere to win two acting nominations - Ed Harris picks up his first best actor nod and his third in total while Marcia Gay Harden wins her first in the supporting actress category. Sony Classics also picked up a foreign language nominee Divided We Fall from the Czech Republic recently.

Miramax Films should also be happy. Despite a year which was hardly as glittering as some of their more recent ones, the company managed to win a Best Picture nomination for Chocolat as well as a Best Actress nod for Juliette Binoche (her second nomination) and a Best Supporting Actress nod for Judi Dench - her third nomination in four years. Miramax also jumped on board two foreign language picture nominees in the last week - France's The Taste of Others and Belgium's Everybody Famous!

Former acting winners Tom Hanks scored his fifth nomination for Cast Away, Geoffrey Rush his third for Quills, Frances McDormand her third for Almost Famous and Ellen Burstyn her sixth for Requiem For A Dream.

Popular first time acting nominees were Spain's Javier Bardem for Before Night Falls, Laura Linney for You Can Count On Me and Kate Hudson for Almost Famous.

Missing from the nominee lineup were favourites including Michael Douglas for Wonder Boys, Bjork for Dancer In The Dark and Jamie Bell for Billy Elliot, Sean Connery for Finding Forrester and Mark Ruffalo for You Can Count On Me.

For DreamWorks, which released Gladiator domestically, it was a winning morning, with two acting nods for The Contender - Jeff Bridges and Joan Allen each won their third nominations - and four for Almost Famous. Universal which co-financed Gladiator and Erin Brockovich and has worldwide rights to Billy Elliot also had a bumper morning.

In the documentary category, hot docs Into The Arms Of Strangers: Stories of The Kindertransport and Long Night's Journey Into Day were both nominated as expected alongside Sound And Fury, Legacy and Scottsboro: An American Tragedy.


Chocolat (Prods: David Brown, Kit Golden, Leslie Holleran)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Prods: Bill Kong, Hsu Li Kong, Ang Lee)
Erin Brockovich (Prods: Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher)
Gladiator (Prods: Douglas Wick, David Franzoni, Branko Lustig)
Traffic (Prods: Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz, Laura Bickford)

Stephen Daldry - Billy Elliot
Ang Lee - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Steven Soderbergh - Erin Brockovich
Ridley Scott - Gladiator
Steven Soderbergh - Traffic

Javier Bardem - Before Night Falls
Russell Crowe - Gladiator
Tom Hanks - Cast Away
Ed Harris - Pollock
Geoffrey Rush - Quills

Joan Allen - The Contender
Juliette Binoche - Chocoloat
Ellen Burstyn - Requiem For A Dream
Laura Linney - You Can Count On Me
Julia Roberts - Erin Brockovich

Jeff Bridges - The Contender
Willem Dafoe - Shadow Of The Vampire
Benicio Del Toro - Traffic
Albert Finney - Erin Brockovich
Joaquin Phoenix - Gladiator

Judi Dench - Chocolat
Marcia Gay Harden - Pollock
Kate Hudson - Almost Famous
Frances McDormand - Almost Famous
Julie Walters - Billy Elliot

Chocolat - Robert Nelson Jacobs
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - Wang Hui Ling, James Schamus, Tsai Kuo Jung
O Brother, Where Art Thou' - Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Traffic - Stephen Gaghan
Wonder Boys - Steve Kloves

Almost Famous - Cameron Crowe
Billy Elliot - Lee Hall
Erin Brockovich - Susannah Grant
Gladiator - David Franzoni, John Logan, William Nicholson
You Can Count On Me - Kenneth Lonergan

Amores Perros - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Mexico
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - Ang Lee, Taiwan
Divided We Fall - Jan Hrebejk, Czech Republic
Everybody Famous! - Dominique Deruddere, Belgium
The Taste Of Others - Agnes Jaoui, France

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - Tim Yip
Dr Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas - Michael Corenblith (Art Direction), Merideth Boswell (Set Decoration)
Gladiator - Arthur Max (Art Direction), Crispian Sallis (Set Decoration)
Quills - Martin Childs (Art Direction), Jill Quertier (Set Decoration)
Vatel - Jean Rabasse (Art Direction), Francoise Benoit-Fresco (Set Decoration)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - Peter Pau
Gladiator - John Mathieson
Malena - Lajos Koltai
O Brother, Where Are Thou' - Roger Deakins
The Patriot - Caleb Descha