BAFTA's Best British Movie Category Includes 'Gravity,' 'Rush' and 'Saving Mr. Banks'
LONDON – Ron Howard's Rush, John Lee Hancock's Saving Mr. Banks and Justin Chadwick's Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom were nominated for best film at this year's BAFTA awards, but the titles still are vying for outstanding British movie.
The British Academy Film Awards, presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and sponsored by cell phone service provider EE, are the U.K.'s most prestigious awards and aim to recognize films from across the globe.
But BAFTA also is under scrutiny -- some observers call it pressure -- at home to maintain a level of trumpet-blowing for local filmmaking on an evening that sees Hollywood arrive on the red carpet in force.
U.K. efforts are specifically celebrated with two awards: outstanding British film and outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer.
The two categories aim to celebrate local endeavors without -- whisper it softly -- creating the impression of a marginalized award on a night that also dishes out awards for best film and best director.
This year's six -- not five nominees, as in other categories -- films vying for the best British movie plaudit reflect the place the U.K. occupies in the current movie-making climate.
British director Chadwick's film is nominated alongside those of fellow local filmmakers Clio Barnard (The Selfish Giant) and Stephen Frears (Philomena), and American filmmakers Howard and Hancock and Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) in the outstanding British film category.
Cuaron's space drama was produced by the filmmaker, his son and fellow scripter Jonas Cuaron, and British producer David Heyman (Harry Potter) and largely put together in the U.K. with Warner Bros. backing.
Howard's Rush, shot mostly in the U.K. and in Germany, lists Howard, British producer Andrew Eaton and British writer Peter Morgan as those who will go to the podium should the film win the prize. The movie owes its existence to backers Cross Creek Pictures and Exclusive Media who put the budget together for the Formula 1 1970s-set drama.
And then there's the French connection.
BBC Films' Philomena, the Steve Coogan and Judi Dench starrer, directed by Frears, and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom also found themselves with distribution and financial help from French-owned British-based Pathe U.K.
Only Barnard's The Selfish Giant can lay claim to being an entirely British affair, boasting Film4, the stand-alone movie-making unit for U.K. broadcaster Channel Four, and the British Film Institute's film fund as principal players in bringing it to the big and small screens.
So while Film4 can also talk up its involvement in Steve McQueen's multi-nominated 12 Years a Slave -- the film unit has been part of the development of every movie McQueen has made to date -- it also will celebrate the long-claimed adage that a little money can go a long way when it comes to prestige and award-winning efforts.
The EE British Academy Film Awards will be handed out Sunday, Feb. 16, at the Royal Opera House in London, with the ceremony broadcast exclusively on BBC One in the U.K. and in all major territories around the world.
OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
Gravity -- Alfonso Cuaron, David Heyman, Jonas Cuaron
Rush -- Ron Howard, Andrew Eaton, Peter Morgan
Saving Mr. Banks -- John Lee Hancock, Alison Owen, Ian Collie, Philip Steuer, Kelly Marcel, Sue Smith
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom -- Justin Chadwick, Anant Singh, David M. Thompson, William Nicholson
The Selfish Giant -- Clio Barnard, Tracy O’Riordan
Philomena -- Stephen Frears, Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan, Tracey Seaward, Jeff Pope
OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER
Colin Carberry, (Writer), Glenn Patterson (Writer) Good Vibrations
Kelly Marcel (Writer) Saving Mr. Banks
Kieran Evans (Director/Writer) Kelly + Victor
Paul Wright (Director/Writer), Polly Stokes (Producer) For Those in Peril
Scott Graham (Director/Writer) Shell