If last year’s Oscar race was the year of the single mom, with pics like “Erin Brockovich,” “You Can Count on Me,” and “Chocolat,” then possible contenders “Amelie,” “Charlotte Gray” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary” could make this competition the year of the single girl.

And perhaps this year, nice girls will come in first.

Miramax’s “Bridget,” about the foibles of a single thirty-something Brit trying to find Mr. Right and satisfy her career ambitions, enters the race with a European Film Award nomination for best pic and Working Title films pedigree. The producing team that brought Helen Fielding’s cultural phenom novel to the screen, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and John Cavendish, also created the romantic comedy “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” which snagged a best picture nom in 1994.

The film has been popular with audiences, earning $71.5 million in the U.S., helping Miramax have its best year at the box office. And though romantic comedies often seem overlooked by Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences voters, Oscar rewarded the similarly Cinderella-themed “Working Girl” with a best picture nomination in 1988. (The film also garnered a best actress mention for Melanie Griffith.)

While Oscar might not pay as much attention to the films, the stars of romantic comedies seem to get the spotlight. Though reviews of the film have been mixed, Renee Zellweger has received accolades for her turn as Jones. The thesp, who won a Golden Globe in 2000 for “Nurse Betty” has been lauded for the authenticity she brought to the part by packing on pounds and putting on an accent that pleased British and U.S. audiences alike. Zellweger would be in good company: Along with Griffiths, Julia Roberts snagged her first best actress nomination for the equally Cinderella-esque “Pretty Woman” in 1990.

Voters also seem to be kinder to romantic comedies in the writing categories as well and may reward the film’s scribes. Oscar has liked the scripts for the similarly styled movies “When Harry Met Sally” (1989), “Green Card” (1991) and “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993), which all received best original screenplay noms.

An adapted screenplay nomination would come thanks to the combined efforts of author Fielding; Andrew Davies, who adapted “Pride and Prejudice”; and Richard Curtis, who received an Oscar for “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”

Noms Watch

  • Picture: producers Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, John Cavendish

  • Director: Sharon Maguire

  • Actress: Renee Zellweger

  • Adapted screenplay: Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies, Richard Curtis<./ul>

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