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Sex harassment scandal looms over Oscars as British stars vie for glory

By Laura Harding

Gary Oldman will lead British hopes for an Oscar tomorrow night, at a ceremony likely to be dominated by the sexual harassment scandal that has rocked Hollywood.

He takes on fellow countrymen Daniel Day-Lewis and Daniel Kaluuya in the bid for the best actor prize, and is the presumed frontrunner, having already picked up a Golden Globe, a Bafta and a Screen Actors Guild award for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour.

The Shape Of Water, Guillermo Del Toro's fantasy romance, leads the nominations with 13, including a best actress nod for Sally Hawkins and one for best picture.

Hawkins would have to beat frontrunner Frances McDormand to take home the trophy, as well as Irish actress Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird.

McDormand is nominated for her blistering turn as a grieving and vengeful mother in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, alongside Margot Robbie for I, Tonya and Meryl Streep for The Post.

Joining Oldman, Day-Lewis and Kaluuya in the best actor category are Hollywood heavyweight Denzel Washington for Roman J Israel, Esq and newcomer Timothee Chalamet (22) for Call Me By Your Name.

It it likely that the Time's Up campaign for gender equality will have a strong presence at the ceremony, after attendees wore black to both the Golden Globes and Baftas in solidarity with victims of sexual harassment in the film industry.

While no plans for a similar move have been announced for the Oscars, it is likely that visible symbols of support will be on display and the topic is expected to feature heavily in speeches from the podium.

Other British stars in the running for prizes include Lesley Manville, nominated for supporting actress for her role opposite Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread.

She is up against Mudbound's Mary J Blige, Lady Bird's Laurie Metcalf, The Shape Of Water's Octavia Spencer and Allison Janney in I, Tonya.

Christopher Nolan is nominated for best director for war film Dunkirk, which bagged eight nods including best picture - but he will have to beat Del Toro who has already scored the Bafta and Golden Globe as well as the top honour from the Directors Guild of America.

History could be made at the ceremony. If Greta Gerwig takes home the gong for Lady Bird, her solo directorial debut, she would be only the second woman to do so since the first Academy Awards in 1929. Kathryn Bigelow won for The Hurt Locker in 2010.

If Jordan Peele takes the prize for Get Out, he will be the first black director to do so.

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