Tonight is the British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ turn to stand in the awards-season spotlight. Demonstrating increased crossover, this year’s Orange British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) are a mixed bag of international collaboration. The Artist, a French film shot in Los Angeles, leads the pack of nominees with 12 nods. The very British Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, financed by France’s Studiocanal and directed by Sweden’s Tomas Alfredson, follows with 11. The Descendants, Drive (with its Danish director and British co-star) and The Help round out the top film category. Tinker Tailor is shortlisted in both the Best Film and Best British Film races and is the only one to straddle the two. Meanwhile other Best British Film nominees also boast an international feel: My Week With Marilyn has an American star in Michelle Williams, Shame is set in New York, We Need To Talk About Kevin is based on a book by an American-born author, and documentary Senna is about the Brazilian race car legend. And, in her own words, “international star, role model and diva” Miss Piggy is hosting the red carpet show.
In the best film, directing and lead actor categories, the BAFTAs have predicted Oscar winners 3 out of the past 5 years. Lead actress has been 4 for 5 with the exception the 2009 awards, when Sandra Bullock won the Oscar but was not among the nominees for a BAFTA. Meryl Streep is the frontrunner this year in yet another international twist as an American playing a former British Prime Minister (the film caused some controversy, but her performance was roundly embraced). You’d think the sentimental favorite in the lead actor category would be Gary Oldman in his second nomination since 1988’s Prick Up Your Ears, but George Clooney has been leading the pack at local bookmakers despite The Artist‘s position as the best film frontrunner. In the 2 recent years where BAFTA and Oscar didn’t agree on the top prize, the Brits picked a homegrown film: 2006’s The Queen and 2007’s Atonement. Lest anyone cry nationalism, however, BAFTA last year opted for David Fincher for The Social Network over Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech as best director.
Just as Billy Crystal is returning to host the Oscars, so is Stephen Fry returning to host the BAFTAs after a long absence. Britain’s resident renaissance man previously hosted from 2001-2006 then stepped down saying he looked forward to watching the show “without nerves.” He’s taking over the reins from talk show host Jonathan Ross, whose notices weren’t fabulous in the last few outings despite a 7-year ratings high for BBC 1 in 2011. The show also airs on a one-hour delay in the UK which has led to some griping about Twitter reveals although there are no restrictions in place.
Nominees attending include Adam Deacon, Bérénice Bejo, Brad Pitt, Chris Hemsworth, Eddie Redmayne, Gary Oldman, George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Jessica Chastain, Jim Broadbent, Jonah Hill, Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh, Kristen Wiig, Lynne Ramsay, Meryl Streep, Michael Fassbender, Michel Hazanavicius, Michelle Williams, Octavia Spencer, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swindon, Tom Hiddleston, Tomas Alfredson and Viola Davis.
Martin Scorsese will pick up his BAFTA Fellowship and John Hurt will be there to get his Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award. Other presenters and guests are to include Anil Kapoor, Bérénice Marlohe, Billy Bob Thornton, Chris O’Dowd, Christina Hendricks, Christina Ricci, Colin Firth, Cuba Gooding Jr, Daniel Radcliffe, Gillian Anderson, Hayley Atwell, Helena Bonham Carter, Henry Cavill, Holliday Grainger, Jeremy Irvine, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jon Hamm, Naomie Harris, Noomi Rapace, Paul Bettany and Penélope Cruz. Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe are also presenting an award together. Deadline will provide coverage of the event Sunday.