Jack Nicholson is ecstatic at being nominated for this 12th OSCAR in tonight's ceremony (23MAR03) - and critics believe he has a good chance of taking home his fourth gong.

The 65-year-old veteran is up for the Best Actor prize for his part in About Schmidt, which saw the small-statured star take on a different character to usual.

Nicholson's last Oscar was for his 1998 film As Good As It Gets, but with 12 nominations under his belt in total he is the most nominated actor in the history of the Academy Awards.

Movie critic LEONARD MALTIN says, "I'd say its a very tough race and I'm glad I don't have to vote.

"But if I were to vote, I'd split my vote between Nicholson and (GANGS OF NEW YORK star) Daniel Day-Lewis. Day-Lewis' character is unlike anything we've seen before, while Nicholson disappeared into that character.

"Those are the front runners in the my mind, although more people seem to be seeing The Pianist and they're very impressed with (the movie's star) ADRIEN BRODY."