Military combat thriller "Black Hawk Down" and family drama "In the Bedroom" took the lead Monday in nominations for a new movie award that hopes one day to rival the Oscars and Golden Globes.
"Black Hawk Down," the story of the disastrous 1993 US military foray in Somalia, and "In The Bedroom," about a couple whose son's affair with an older woman leads to his murder, each took five nominations in the first-ever American Film Institute (AFI) awards, to be broadcast live January 5.
The two 13-member nomination committees gave "Black Hawk Down" the nod for film of the year, while director Ridley Scott -- of "Bladerunner" fame -- picked up a nomination for best director.
The saga of the aborted rescue of US Marines in Mogadishu, 18 of whom were killed, was also nominated for editor, cinematographer and production designer of the year in the 19-category awards.
The "Black Hawk Down" nominations came as US patriotic fervor ran high as the country wages a war against terrorism following the September 11 suicide attacks on New York and Washington that killed around 3,300 people.
"In the Bedroom" was nominated for picture of the year; star Tom Wilkinson and director Todd Field got nods for best actor and director respectively.
Sissy Spacek's tour de force as the embattled Ruth Fowler, generating high praise from critics nationwide, got a best actress nod, and Field, who co-wrote the film with Rob Festinger, could also walk home with the best screenwriter honor.
Monday's announcement of the AFI award nominations kicked off Tinseltown's annual industry awards season -- which culminates with the Academy Awards ceremony in March.
The nominations for the Golden Globes, awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, are due later this week, while Oscar nominations are scheduled for February.
The story of troubled mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr, "A Beautiful Mind,"; the first installment of the 300 million-dollar trilogy "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring;" "Mulholland Drive;" and the latest Coen brothers opus "The Man Who Wasn't There" each took four AFI nominations.
Steven Spielberg's "AI: Artificial Intelligence" and director Robert Altman's 1930s murder-mystery satire "Gosford Park" also took four nominations each, while "Moulin Rouge" starring Nicole Kidman won three nominations.
Other contenders for the movie of the year category included "Memento," the not-yet released "Monster's Ball," and "Shrek," an animated story of a gentle giant.
Australian Oscar-winner Crowe scored a best actor nomination for his portrayal of Nash in "A Beautiful Mind," as did Billy Bob Thornton for his role as a paranoid barber in "The Man Who Wasn't There."
Wilkinson and Denzel Washington, for his depiction of a corrupt cop in "Training Day," also face off in that category.
Vying with Spacek for honours as actress of the year are Halle Berry, nominated for her role as Leticia Musgrove in "Monster's Ball;" Stockard Channing, for "The Business of Strangers;" and Naomi Watts for her sensual turn as Betty Elms in "Mulholland Drive."
Teen slasher opus "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," mafia soap "The Sopranos," the Emmy Award-winning White House drama "The West Wing" and the daily ministrations of a mortuary-owning family in "Six Feet Under" are contenders for drama series of the year.
"Everybody Loves Raymond," "Malcom in the Middle," "Sex in the City" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," by Larry David, who was responsible for "Seinfeld," vie for comedy of the year.
Grim-faced James Gandolfini, who is the patriarch of "The Sopranos," faces Ray Romano, the star of "Everybody Loves Raymond" for best actor in a series.
The nominations committees, comprised of industry heavy-hitters for both the small and big screen met in Los Angeles to develop their lists of top picks, to be sent to a 100-person AFI jury to select the winners by ballot.
The institute compiles annual lists of all-time favorite US films and stars and also trains cinematographers -- AFP
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