A Good Year for the BAFTAs

The Orange British Academy Film Awards - better known as The BAFTAs - is a chance for the UK film industry to take its place on the world stage. Arts Editor Andrew Clarke takes a look at the high-powered nominations in a really good year.

Andrew Clarke

The Orange British Academy Film Awards - better known as The BAFTAs - is a chance for the UK film industry to take its place on the world stage. Arts Editor Andrew Clarke takes a look at some high-powered nominations in a really good year.

Hot on the heels of its Golden Globe win for Best Film (Drama), British blockbuster hit Atonement leads the nominations pack in what will be a closely fought BAFTA awards contest this year.

The period drama from young director Joe Wright, who was also nominated last year for Pride and Prejudice, received 14 nominations for the Orange British Academy Film Awards.

The movie, based on the best-selling novel by Ian McEwan, has been nominated in the top categories Best Film and Best British Film. Stars Keira Knightley and James McAvoy have been nominated for Leading Actress and Leading Actor while Joe Wright is up for Best Director. Saoirse Ronan, who plays the 13 year old Briony, receives a Supporting Actress nomination.

The quirky and highly moving film is also up for Best Adapted Screenplay, Music, Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, Sound, Costume Design and Make-Up and Hair.

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Atonement star McAvoy will be competing with Hollywood heartthrob George Clooney (Michael Clayton), Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood), Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises) and Ulrich Muhe (The Lives Of Others) in the Leading Actor category.

Although Atonement is the hot favourite for Best Film, it will face some stiff competition in a particularly strong year. No Country For Old Men, the latest film from the Coen brothers, and There Will Be Blood, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, each received nine nominations while La Vie En Rose, the movie about French singer Edith Piaf, is well represented in seven categories.

The Bourne Ultimatum has six nominations, with American Gangster, The Lives Of Others and Michael Clayton getting five each.

Cate Blanchett is up for two awards - for Supporting Actress for I'm Not There and Leading Actress for her role in Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age also received nominations for Production Design, Costume Design and Make-Up and Hair.

Other Leading Actress nominees are Golden Globe winner Julie Christie for Away From Her, French star Marion Cotillard for La Vie En Rose, Canadian actress Ellen Page for Juno as well as Knightley for Atonement.

Paul Greengrass is up against fellow British filmmaker Wright for Best Director for The Bourne Ultimatum, starring Matt Damon, along with the Coen brothers for No Country For Old Men.

Some of the nominations will raise eyebrows among some keen cinemagoers because several of the films nominated have yet to receive a release in the UK. There Will Be Blood and American independent film Juno both open in February while Away From Her doesn't receive a UK release until the end of April.

Although these films have figured prominently in the various US awards, and I don't doubt they are worthy of inclusion but should they not be in next year's awards? The practice of playing a film unadvertised for a week just to qualify really doesn't match the spirit of the event and reduces any win from a mark of excellence down to a cynical marketing exercise.

Tim Bevan, from the film company Working Title, which produced Atonement, said the British film industry was in rude health, adding: "British directors are dominating world cinema. There's the older generation with Ridley Scott and Stephen Frears, a middle generation... and an incredibly vibrant younger generation. There is no other country in the world that can host this width of talent.” The awards take place on February 10 at The Royal Opera House in London's Covent Garden, and will be hosted by Jonathan Ross. The awards will be broadcast on BBC1.

PANEL

BAFTA NOMINATIONS

BEST FILM

American Gangster

Atonement

The Lives of Others

No Country for Old Men

There Will Be Blood

BEST BRITISH FILM

Atonement

The Bourne Ultimatum

Control

Eastern Promises

This is England

DIRECTOR

Atonement - Joe Wright

The Bourne Ultimatum - Paul Greengrass

The Lives of Others - Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

No Country For Old Men - Joel Coen/Ethan Coen

There Will Be Blood - Paul Thomas Anderson

LEADING ACTOR

George Clooney - Michael Clayton

Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood

James McAvoy - Atonement

Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises

Ulrich Muhe - The Lives of Others

LEADING ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Julie Christie - Away From Her

Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose

Keira Knightley - Atonement

Ellen Page - Juno

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men

Paul Dano - There Will Be Blood

Tommy Lee Jones - No Country for Old Men

Philip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War

Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There

Kelly Macdonald - No Country for Old Men

Samantha Morton - Control

Saoirse Ronan - Atonement

Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton