"Is this the real life/ Is this just fantasy?" This classic query from Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" could easily refer to the three films with the most nominations for the 74th annual Academy Awards.
The elf-and-orc-riddled "The Lord of the Rings" leads the pack with 13 nominations, while the amorous, lingerie-clad adventure "Moulin Rouge" and schizophrenic case study "A Beautiful Mind" trail with eight nominations apiece. The three frontrunners, along with "In the Bedroom" and "Gosford Park," will battle it out for the Best Picture title at the awards ceremony, taking place March 24 at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland. The event will be televised on ABC.
"The Lord of the Rings" is also in Oscar contention for Directing, for Peter Jackson's efforts; Best Actor in a Supporting Role, for Ian McKellen's portrayal of the wizard Gandalf; as well as in 10 secondary categories, including Art Direction, Cinematography and Costume Design. The first installment in the film trilogy based on the novels of J.R.R. Tolkien is also up for the Music (Song) Oscar, for Enya, Nicky Ryan and Roma Ryan's "May It Be." Other nominees in that category are Sting's "Until" from "Kate & Leopold"; Randy Newman's "If I Didn't Have You" from "Monsters, Inc."; Diane Warren's "There You'll Be" from "Pearl Harbor" and Paul McCartney's "Vanilla Sky" from the Tom Cruise movie of the same name.
Will Smith's role as former heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali in "Ali" packed enough punch to score him a nod for Actor in a Leading Role, a category that finds him squaring off against Russell Crowe ("A Beautiful Mind"), Sean Penn ("I Am Sam"), Denzel Washington ("Training Day") and Tom Wilkinson ("In the Bedroom").
In the Actress in a Leading Role grouping, Oscar is being courted by Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball"), Judi Dench ("Iris"), Nicole Kidman ("Moulin Rouge"), Sissy Spacek ("In the Bedroom") and Renée Zellweger ("Bridget Jones's Diary").
Animated Feature Film, a category new to this year's Academy Awards, finds "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius," "Monsters, Inc." and "Shrek" up for the inaugural prize.
A complete list of nominees is available on www.oscar.com.