Gravity led the awards season charge in London on Wednesday with 11 BAFTA nominations, including best film and best director. The space thriller inched ahead of 12 Years A Slave despite the British background of the slavery epic’s director Steve McQueen and leading actors Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender.
American Hustle was the other big winner, scooping 10 nominations, the same number as 12 Years A Slave. The ensemble cast of the David O. Russell caper was credited in all four acting categories, with nominations for Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale.
The winners will be announced on February 16, two weeks before the Academy Awards, where the same three films are expected to battle it out for the best picture Oscar. While the best film race is too close to call, bookmakers immediately installed Ejiofor as the hot favorite to take the best actor BAFTA for his harrowing portrayal of Solomon Northup, an enslaved free man living in mid-nineteenth century America.
“There is traditionally a slight British bias when it comes to the BAFTA, however Ejiofor’s performance in 12 Years is so mesmeric that there needn’t be this year. He is virtually nailed on to win the BAFTA,” said Joe Crilly, a spokesman for the William Hill bookmakers.
Speaking at the announcement ceremony in Central London, Ejiofor said: “I continue to be immensely proud of the recognition this film is getting around the world. There is, of course, something particularly special about receiving a BAFTA nomination from home.”
Another film with a British cast to be honored with a host of nominations was Philomena, a film about forced adoption in Catholic Ireland staring Dame Judi Dench. Steve Coogan, who co-wrote and starred in the film, was delighted with four nominations. “Philomena has been a labor of love.” he said. “To make a film with the very best people, where comedy and pathos sit side by side is not easy. We all wanted to make something sincere and uncynical without being naive. To have it acknowledged by BAFTA is very satisfying.”
12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen
American Hustle, David O. Russell
Captain Phillips, Paul Greengrass
Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón
The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr Banks
Judi Dench, Philomena
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips