BAFTA unveils film award nominations

'Avatar,' 'Hurt Locker,' 'An Education' lead the field

LONDON -- Lone Scherfig's "An Education" muscled its way between awards-season heavyweights "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" and will battle for best film and director nods at the Orange British Academy Film Awards.

The three titles secured eight nominations apiece Thursday, and many consider Scherfig's British drama of manners a threat in the top categories.

BBC film critic and presenter Mark Kermode said he thinks "An Education" stands a chance of halting the awards momentum of James Cameron's "Avatar" and Kathryn Bigelow's "Hurt Locker," with Scherfig's movie able "to stand up to both of them." Others believe "The Hurt Locker" is this year's front-runner in the best film category.

One thing's for sure: In an age of myriad awards, a BAFTA film award still matters.

David Kosse, president, International, Universal Pictures, said the impact of multiple nominations can help raise awareness for a picture. "It's all about timing," he said, "but it can boost a film's prospects."

The awards, presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, will be handed out Feb. 21 at London's Royal Opera House.

The surprise on this year's list is the Peter Jackson-produced and South Africa-set sci-fi film "District 9," which secured seven nominations, one more than "Inglourious Basterds" and "Up in the Air."

Quentin Tarantino's World War II story "Basterds" missed out on a best picture mention. "I think he was robbed, getting all those nominations but not in best film," Kosse said.

Cameron and company hope this year's multiple nominations for "Avatar" will not result in history repeating itself; he jetted in after "Titanic" sailed to 11 nominations in 1998 but left empty-handed.

To win this year's best film award, Cameron and his blue people must beat "Education," "Locker," "Air" and Lee Daniels' "Precious."

The award for best director is a face-off among Neill Blomkamp ("District 9"), Tarantino, Cameron, Scherfig and Bigelow.

In the best actor category, nominees include Golden Globe winner Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart"), George Clooney ("Air"), Colin Firth ("A Single Man"), Jeremy Renner ("Locker") and Andy Serkis ("Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll").

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The best actress category features Carey Mulligan ("Education"), Saoirse Ronan ("The Lovely Bones"), Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious"), Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia") and Audrey Tautou ("Coco Before Chanel").

A list of nominees follows:

Best film
"Avatar," James Cameron, Jon Landau
"An Education," Amanda Posey, Finola Dwyer
"The Hurt Locker," Nominees TBC
"Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire," Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness
"Up In The Air," Ivan Reitman, Jason Reitman, Daniel Dubiecki

Outstanding British film
"An Education," Amanda Posey, Finola Dwyer, Lone Scherfig, Nick Hornby
"Fish Tank," Kees Kasander, Nick Laws, Andrea Arnold
"In The Loop," Kevin Loader, Adam Tandy, Armando Iannucci, Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche
"Moon," Stuart Fenegan, Trudie Styler, Duncan Jones, Nathan Parker
"Nowhere Boy," Kevin Loader, Douglas Rae, Robert Bernstein, Sam Taylor-Wood, Matt Greenhalgh

Director
"Avatar," James Cameron
"District 9," Neill Blomkamp
"An Education," Lone Scherfig
"The Hurt Locker," Kathryn Bigelow
"Inglourious Basterds," Quentin Tarantino

Original screenplay
"The Hangover," Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
"The Hurt Locker," Mark Boal
"Inglourious Basterds," Quentin Tarantino
"A Serious Man," Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
"Up," Bob Peterson, Pete Docter

Adapted screenplay
"District 9," Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
"An Education," Nick Hornby
"In The Loop," Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
"Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire," Geoffrey Fletcher
"Up In The Air," Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner

Film not in the English language
"Broken Embraces," Agustin Almodovar, Pedro Almodovar
"Coco Before Chanel," Carole Scotta, Caroline Benjo, Philippe Carcassonne, Anne Fontaine
"Let The Right One In," Carl Molinder, John Nordling, Tomas Alfredson
"A Prophet," Pascale Caucheteux, Marco Chergui, Alix Raynaud, Jacques Audiard
"The White Ribbon," Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka, Margaret Menegoz, Michael Haneke

Animated film
"Coraline," Henry Selick
"Fantastic Mr. Fox," Wes Anderson
"Up," Pete Docter

Leading actor
Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart"
George Clooney, "Up in the Air"
Colin Firth, "A Single Man"
Jeremy Renner, "The Hurt Locker"
Andy Serkis, "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll"

Leading actress
Carey Mulligan, "An Education"
Saoirse Ronan, "The Lovely Bones"
Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire"
Meryl Streep, "Julie & Julia"
Audrey Tautou, "Coco Before Chanel"

Supporting actor
Alec Baldwin, "It's Complicated"
Christian McKay, "Me and Orson Welles"
Alfred Molina, "An Education"
Stanley Tucci, "The Lovely Bones"
Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds"

Supporting actress
Anne-Marie Duff, "Nowhere Boy"
Vera Farmiga, "Up in the Air"
Anna Kendrick, "Up in the Air"
Mo'Nique, "Precious"
Kristin Scott Thomas, "Nowhere Boy"

A full list of nominations can be found at www.bafta.org.
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