Silent movie “The Artist” made itself heard on the awards circuit yesterday, leading the field with 12 BAFTA nominations.
The French black-and-white comedy, a homage to the “pre-talkie” era set in 1920s and 1930s Hollywood, was shortlisted for best film, actor, actress, director and original screenplay by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
It maintains its momentum a week before the Oscar nominations are announced and after last weekend’s triumph at the Golden Globes when it scooped three prizes.
The BAFTA record for predicting Academy Awards is patchy, but they are Britain’s top film honours and the most closely watched outside the United States.
“The Artist” was one ahead of Cold War-era spy movie “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” which garnered 11 nominations. The adaptation of John Le Carre’s classic espionage thriller was up for best film, director, adapted screenplay and actor.
“Hugo,” Martin Scorsese’s family adventure, scored nine followed by “My Week With Marilyn” with six, and five nominations each for “The Help” and “War Horse.”
As expected, Meryl Streep made it on to the shortlist for best actress for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” She is heavily favoured to land an Academy Award for the performance.
Streep is up against Berenice Bejo (The Artist), Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn), Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Viola Davis (The Help).
The best actor category is made up of Brad Pitt (Moneyball), Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), George Clooney (The Descendants), Jean Dujardin (The Artist) and Michael Fassbender (Shame).
The best picture award will either go to “The Artist,” “The Descendants,” “Drive,” “The Help or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2,” the last of eight instalments in the record-breaking boy wizard franchise, garnered four nominations, make up & hair, production design, sound and special visual effects.
The movies’ supporters have complained that the hugely successful adventures are overlooked in major award categories, and the announcement was unlikely to appease them.
The BAFTA awards will be handed out on Feb. 12 at London’s Royal Opera House. Scorsese will receive a BAFTA Fellowship celebrating his life in cinema, and is also nominated as best director for Hugo and for his documentary “George Harrison: Living in the Material World”.