Oscars 2012: British nominees ready for Academy Awards

Gary Oldman: "I've got a feeling the Frenchman might win"

British Oscar hopefuls have been speaking about their excitement ahead of Sunday's Academy Awards, as they gathered at an event to mark the start of Hollywood's most glittering weekend.

More than 15 of this year's nominees - including Gary Oldman, Kenneth Branagh and Janet McTeer - attended a special reception in Los Angeles.

"The Oscars are always something that I've watched from my sofa," said first-time nominee Oldman, up for best actor for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

"I'm thrilled that I'm in a year when Meryl Streep is nominated and Billy Crystal is hosting. I'm more chuffed about that - that Billy Crystal is doing it."

The 53-year-old actor added: "It's been wonderful. People love you everywhere you go - they give you free stuff. There's nothing more obscene than watching rich people walk away with all their free stuff."

Kenneth Branagh, who plays Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn, was another of the Oscar nominees who was at the reception hosted by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and British Consul General Dame Barbara Hay.

Branagh said: "I'm relieved and delighted that people feel we did a good job with somebody whom I revered and respected, and who inspired much of what I've done."

'Savour every moment'

Branagh's supporting actor nomination this year sets an Oscar record - he is the first person to achieve five different nominations in five categories - supporting actor, actor, director, screenplay and short film.

"Each time it feels like a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so you value and savour every moment," he said.

Kenneth Branagh Kenneth Branagh is nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for My Week with Marilyn

Phyllida Lloyd, director of The Iron Lady, said she hoped the film would help best actress nominee Meryl Streep to her first Oscar win since 1982.

Streep's portrayal of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher has earned her a record 17th acting nomination.

"She's very philosophical about it," Lloyd told the BBC, "but it would mean a huge amount to feel that we've helped to break this almost 30-year deadlock for her."

Nominated documentary feature Hell and Back Again follows the journey of American marine, Sgt Nathan Harris, back home after being wounded in Afghanistan.

The film's British producers, Mike Lerner and Martin Herring, said that Sgt Harris and his wife Ashley - who are both central to the film - would be on the red carpet on Oscar day.

"It's going to be an incredible moment for all of us," Lerner said.

Another documentary maker, Lucy Walker, was nominated last year for Waste Land.

'Moving'

"Being in the auditorium is a bit of an out-of-the-body experience," she recalled.

The film-maker is nominated again this year for her short documentary The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom - about the survivors of the 11 March 2011 tsunami disaster in NE Japan.

Meryl Streep portrays Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady Meryl Streep portrayal of Margaret Thatcher has earned her a record 17th acting nomination

"I tend to make films about people having really challenging situations, and coming through them with great strength and resilience," Walker said.

"I've had the most touching responses from Japan, including one which said: 'I was feeling bad for having lived after the disaster, and then I saw the film and it reminded me what we're living for.' It was very moving stuff."

London-born Andy Nelson is up for his 16th Oscar for his sound mixing work on Steven Spielberg's War Horse. He won an Oscar for his work on Saving Private Ryan in 1999.

"I'm just as crazy about it as I was the first time," he said of his latest nod.

"It's normal for us to have loads and loads of Oscar nominees," said Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

"We've actually won more Oscars than any other country other than the US, and the Hollywood big studios invest more in the UK than any other country - last year they spent more than a billion pounds making films in the UK.

"We've got a lot to be proud of."

The Academy Awards take place in Hollywood, Los Angeles, on Sunday.

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