Jennifer Hudson talks about her Oscar nomination

Jennifer Hudson is having a breakout year in 2006. After winning a Golden Globe® for her stunning performance as Effie White in Dreamgirls, Oscar® came a-knocking! The film—which marked her first ever acting role—has landed her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress!

Jennifer says everything has happened really fast and that she hasn't even processed the Golden Globe win yet! "I am [having fun], but you do want to step back a moment and see what you've done, to enjoy it and embrace it, but it's busy and I like being busy," Jennifer says.

In her Golden Globe acceptance speech, Jennifer said the win gave her confidence. But, she admits it didn't come across exactly as she meant it. "To [be able to] say that I'm an actress now … [that] does something for my confidence," Jennifer says. "To come into this whole other industry and be welcomed like this, oh my God. I cannot believe it. It's so amazing."
Jennifer Hudson and Oprah

With less than a month until the big night, Jennifer says she hasn't really started worrying about what she is going to wear. "Everywhere you turn everybody wants to send you a dress, and I've got a gazillion shoes," Jennifer says. And who is she taking as her date? Her mom, of course! "She's sitting there [saying], 'Jenny, I've got to get my hair done for the Oscars.' I was like, 'Mama, it's a month away!"

In the midst of all of the excitement, rumors have been swirling about a tiff between Jennifer and her Dreamgirls co-star Beyoncé Knowles. Jennifer says they simply aren't true. "We're just happy to see the movie being recognized and acknowledged, and she still supports me the same way she did from day one," Jennifer says.
Jennifer Hudson performs 'Love You I Do'

Jennifer takes the stage to sing the Oscar®-nominated song "Love You I Do" from Dreamgirls—a song she will also perform at the Academy Awards ceremony.

When awards season comes to an end, Jennifer plans to get back to her roots. In March 2007, she will start work on a new album with legendary music producer Clive Davis.
Kate Winslet talks about her Oscar nomination

British actress Kate Winslet is setting records. At age 31, she has already been nominated for five Oscars®—the most for someone her age in Academy history! "I do certainly feel overwhelmed just when I hear you say that I'm the youngest person to have been nominated that many times," Kate says. "That's really a spectacular feeling."

Kate's nominated films include Titanic, Sense and Sensibility, Iris, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and this year's Little Children.

Kate says to have been so successful in her career is a dream come true. "I'm a girl who grew up in a small town outside of London and I was told as a teenager that I may have a career in acting if I was happy to settle for the fat girl parts," Kate says. "And here I am, and that's an amazing feeling."
Kate Winslet talks to Oprah via satellite

In Little Children, Kate plays Sarah, a repressed suburban housewife who feels lost in her own life. Kate says she loved playing Sarah because the character doesn't care about vanity and femininity. "She looks a mess most of the time and I love that," Kate says. "The truth is I think it's much more interesting to throw yourself at a character who isn't vain and doesn't know about hair and makeup. It just kind of makes it that much more interesting," Kate says.

Although it will be her fifth Academy Awards® ceremony, Kate says she is more excited than she's ever been. "I just can't wait to go. The fact that I haven't got a hope in hell of winning is beside the point."

Kate says that one of the reasons this year feels so spectacular is because of the other women who have been nominated—Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Penelope Cruz and Meryl Streep. "These are the women who have inspired me throughout my years as an actress up until this point, and here I am standing alongside them shoulder to shoulder," Kate says. "It really is a dream come true."
Abigail Breslin talks about being nominated for an Academy Award.

If 10-year-old Oscar® hopeful Abigail Breslin goes home with the gold, she'll tie Tatum O'Neal as the youngest winner in Academy Award history! Abigail is nominated for playing Olive in Little Miss Sunshine. The film—which stars fellow nominee Alan Arkin—tells the story of a family that goes on a disaster-ridden road trip in a Volkswagen bus so Olive can appear in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant.

Abigail says she was asleep when the Oscar nominations were announced. "My mom and my brother came in and they were screaming and they woke me up," Abigail says. As far as what she is going to wear to the awards, Abigail says she has no idea. "My favorite color is red," she says.

Even though she doesn't know exactly what her dress will look like on Oscar night, she does know who she is going to bring to the awards. "Well, I'm not old enough to date yet…so my parents and my Curious George," she says.
Helen Mirren talks about her performance in 'The Queen.'

She's this year's queen of the big screen, and critics have called her performance mesmerizing and deeply human. As Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen, Dame Helen Mirren rules. The newly crowned Best Actress nominee just walked away with a Golden Globe® for her royal performance.

Set just days after the death of Princess Diana, The Queen—an Academy Award® nominee for Best Picture—takes an inside look at the royal family's silence about the princess's death and the public's reaction to it.

Although Elizabeth II is famous for her control of emotion, Helen says the feelings are there nonetheless. "I sort of thought of the image of a captain of a submarine," Helen says. "I feel like she's looking out of her body like a captain looking out the portholes of a submarine."
Helen Mirren talks to Oprah via satellite

Helen says that after getting to wear such opulent costumes as Queen Elizabeth I in the Golden Globe award-winning Elizabeth I, seeing all the sensible shoes, padded knickers and tweed skirts in her wardrobe for The Queen made her think, "I can't do this."

"When I got into her, I realized that this is a woman without vanity. It was a woman who was very, very beautiful as a young girl—I mean, as beautiful as Elizabeth Taylor. She was gorgeous. But she's a woman without vanity, and that's a sort of an extraordinary thing to have let go of that kind of vanity," Helen says. Aside from the wardrobe, Helen says watching videos of the queen and reading about her helped her to perfect her performance.

Helen—who has been nominated two times before—admits that the moment the winner is announced is "terrifying"—but she says she is always happy for the winner, even if it's not her. "The whole thing is about celebration, actually. It's not about a competition. It's not about racehorses racing to their finish. It's about celebration. And I think this year in particular, one can truly celebrate all of our performances," Helen says.
Dame Judi Dench talks about her treacherous new role.

With dozens of acting awards gracing her résumé—including Oscar®, Tony® and Golden Globe® wins—Dame Judi Dench is no stranger to the red carpet. Judi won the Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love, and has been nominated an additional four times.

Her performance in the psychological thriller Notes on a Scandal marks her sixth Academy Award nomination. In the film, Judi plays Barbara Covett, a cold and lonely teacher who befriends Sheba, her school's new art teacher. When she discovers Sheba is sleeping with a student, Barbara threatens to expose their scandalous affair.

New York Magazine calls Judi's performance "so electric it will make you quiver," and the role has been described as "the most fiendishly poisonous and hilariously nasty villainess in recent history."

Judi says when she first read the book she wasn't sure she wanted to be involved with the movie. "I actually thought that would be a difficult part to play.… I'd steer clear of her," Judi says. "It was the amalgam of [director] Richard Eyre, who I've worked with a lot, and [actress] Cate Blanchett and [producer] Scott Rudin that pushed me in that direction, and I'm very pleased I did it."
Dame Judi Dench on missing the awards ceremony

Judi joins Oprah via satellite from the Royal Shakespeare Company's Swan Theater in Stratford, England, where she's minutes away from going on stage.

Unlike most nominees, Judi hasn't thought about what she's going to wear on the red carpet. Due to an upcoming knee surgery, Judi says she probably won't make it to the awards ceremony, but she'll be watching from afar.

Oprah: At least if you're watching from home and you can't be there, you don't have to hold your face straight if somebody else's name is called.

Judi: Quite. I long to see somebody [get] really angry when that happens.
Kevin O'Connell and Florence, his mother

You may not have heard of sound mixer Kevin O'Connell, but he is making Oscar® history. Kevin has been nominated for an Oscar 18 times—with no wins! This year could be the year. Kevin has earned his 19th nomination for his work on Apocalypto.

Kevin laughs off being called "Oscar's biggest loser." "I've often been referred to as the 'Susan Lucci of the Oscars.' If people want to compare me to her, I think that's great!"

Kevin says that after never being able to deliver an Oscar acceptance speech, he hopes that this year he can finally thank his number one fan—his Mom.

"I said, 'Win one before I die.' And he said, 'Oh, that blows it, Mom, because if I win and you die, the family will blame me for winning one.' So that was the end of that!" says Kevin's mom, Florence.
Forest Whitaker on his role in 'The Last King of Scotland'

Throughout his career, Forest Whitaker has delivered memorable performances in movies like Platoon, The Crying Game and the critically acclaimed TV cop drama The Shield.

In The Last King of Scotland, Forest portrays Idi Amin, the infamous Ugandan dictator who brutally ruled his country from 1971 to 1979 and ordered the slaughter of 300,000 citizens. The demanding role has garnered him rave reviews, a Golden Globe® for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture—Drama and his very first Oscar® nomination!

In September 2006, Forest told Oprah he immersed himself in as much of Amin's life as possible to prepare for the role. "I pretty much lived in that energy for the whole time I was [in Africa], trying to soak up everything." Forest even learned to speak Swahili for the film.

The hard work paid off as he captures the complicated, intricate layers of Amin's personality—the showman, the charmer, the decorated warrior, the volatile and murderous paranoid—"in every breath," Oprah said.

Forest said he has been enjoying the praise for his work for one very simple reason. "I hope it makes people go out and see the movie because I feel very proud of it."
Eddie Murphy on 'Dreamgirls'

In the most-nominated film of the year, Dreamgirls, Eddie Murphy plays James "Thunder" Early, a character who's part James Brown, part Little Richard, and all Eddie Murphy.

Eddie has received an Oscar® nomination for Best Supporting Actor—his first ever—for his work in this musical. Don't count this comedian out—he already walked away with the Golden Globe® for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role!

Like the rest of the cast, Eddie did all his own singing in the film, but even he admitted that the pop albums he put out in the '80s weren't a good example of what he could do. "I don't know if 'Party All the Time' gave you any [idea] of what was coming—that this was coming 20 years later," he joked.
Will Smith discusses 'The Pursuit of Happyness.'

In 2001, Will Smith was nominated for his portrayal of boxing legend Muhammad Ali in the film Ali. Now, he's being honored once again with a Best Actor nomination for bringing a real-life tale to the big screen.

In The Pursuit of Happyness, Will plays Chris Gardner, a single parent who insists on raising his son—a role played by Will's son Jaden—while he struggles to make ends meet. Forced to lead a double life, Chris works on Wall Street by day and is homeless by night.

When Will visited The Oprah Show in November 2006, he said he felt especially connected to his character because he's a father himself. "It feels the same way that I felt with Nelson Mandela," Will said. "Like when I met Nelson Mandela and there's this weird thing that washes over you of how small you are. But at the same time, how big you could be."

Before filming began, Will and Chris visited a subway bathroom in Oakland, California, where Chris and his son sometimes spent the night when they were homeless. Will said filming a scene in that bathroom with Jaden was a turning point. "I laid there with my son and just imagined the sense of failure that you would feel as a parent, you know?" Will said. "But then the other side, the yin and the yang, to all things is that you have the power for it to be different."
Oprah discusses her primetime Oscar special.

For the 79th Academy Awards®, Oprah's doing something she's never done before. She's hosting her first primetime Oscar special, airing February 22 on ABC.

This hour-long special has a surprising twist…Oprah won't be doing the interviews. She has enlisted Oscar-winning actors and actresses to interview each other! "You'll get to see a side of people you haven't seen before," she says.

Tune in to see Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Jamie Foxx and Sidney Poitier open up about life in the spotlight. Check your local listings for more information.