Dames Helen Mirren and Judi Dench have been nominated for Best Actress at this year’s Oscars.

The 79th Academy Awards ceremony in February will be hosted by Ellen Degeneres, the first time an out gay performer has presented the most prestigious movie event in the Hollywood calendar.

Mirren is honoured for her performance in The Queen, which was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director.

The film follows the aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, from the perspective of Queen Elizabeth II.

It was directed by nominee Stephen Frears, well known to gay film fans for his 1980s classics My Beautiful Launderette and Prick Up Your Ears.

Joining Mr Frears in the Best Director Category are Alejandro González Iñárritu for Babel, Martin Scorsese for The Departed, Clint Eastwood for Letters from Iwo Jima and fellow Brit Paul Greengrass for his 9/11 drama United 93.

Dame Helen is joined in the Best Actress category by fellow Brits Dame Judi Dench ( Notes on a Scandal) and Kate Winslet ( Little Children.)

Penelope Cruz and Meryl Streep also get nods for Volver and The Devil Wears Prada respectively.

Best Actor nominees are Leonardo DiCaprio for Blood Diamond, Ryan Gosling for Half Nelson, legendary British actor Peter O’Toole for Venus, Will Smith for The Pursuit of Happyness and Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland.

Musical Dreamgirls gets three out of the five nominations for Best Original Song as well as a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Eddie Murphy.

Best Picture nominees are The Queen, Babel, The Departed, Letters from Iwo Jima and Little Miss Sunshine, which features a stellar performance from Steve Carell as a depressed, gay Proust scholar.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’s British writers Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham and Dan Mazer are nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The 79th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, February 25, 2007, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

For a full list of nominations visit http://www.oscars.org/79academyawards/noms.html