Hollywood's finest have gathered at the Beverly Hilton in California to attend the Oscar nominees lunch.

The glitterati descended to congratulate each other and enjoy the first stage in the build-up to the Academy Awards set to take place on February 25th.

More than 140 nominees were in attendance, from the veteran British actor Peter O'Toole, up for Best Actor for his role in Venus, to ten-year-old Abigail Breslin, who has been nominated in for her supporting role in Little Miss Sunshine.

The Oscar hopefuls lunched together and discussed their hopes and happiness at being nominated.

Eddie Murphy, Will Smith and Penelope Cruz were among those at the lunch, while director Martin Scorsese was another big name to attend.

The renowned film-maker is up for Best Director  which he has never won despite six nominations  for his film The Departed.

If Scorsese might rue missed chances with classics such as Goodfellas and Mean Streets, as well as more recent offerings such as The Aviator, spare a thought for sound-mixing nominee Kevin O'Connell.

O'Connell is up for his 19th Oscar nomination for his work on Mel Gibson's film Apocalypto but has never won the prized statuette.

Elsewhere Dame Helen Mirren spoke of the "awful moral dilemma" she faced as a member of the Academy  able to vote on each category  and as a nominee.

"You think, 'I can't vote for myself, that's outrageous', and then you think 'but maybe it's the one vote.'"

The star of The Queen and a hotly-tipped choice for Best Actress, Dame Helen told reporters who pressed her on her decision: "You know what I did."

06/02/2007 17:17:46