NewsWire: British Bettors Tip "Rings" to be Oscar King - Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - British bettors are backing "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" to win seven Oscars, U.K. spread betting firm Cantor Index said Thursday.

But gamblers are unsure whether the epic fantasy, nominated for 13 awards, will beat out "A Beautiful Mind" for the best picture Oscar at Sunday's ceremony in Hollywood.

"It is fantasy versus the typical emotional Oscar-type film," a Cantor Index spokesman said.

Bettors are tipping Denzel Washington, who plays a corrupt cop in "Training Day," to edge out "Beautiful Mind" star Russell Crowe for the best actor Oscar.

Crowe, who plays a brilliant mathematician battling schizophrenia, won the category last year as the Roman warrior general Maximus Decimus Meridius in "Gladiator."

Cantor said bettors were undecided over the best actress award, backing both Nicole Kidman's high-kicking performance in director Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge" and Sissy Spacek for the family drama "In the Bedroom."

Ron Howard, who directed "A Beautiful Mind," is strongly favored for best director after winning the Directors Guild of America award last week, Cantor said.

The 74th annual Academy Awards will be presented amid tight security at the new Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

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