London Gears Up For BAFTA Excitement

BAFTA Logo 2012 Black - H 2012

BAFTA Logo 2012 Black - H 2012

George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep and Miss Piggy to grace the red carpet at the Royal Opera House on Sunday night.

LONDON — Ignore the drifting snow and blistering Arctic winds. London is moving into a glitzier gear as the BAFTA movie awards roll into town. Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Viola Davies, Tilda Swinton -- and of course, red-carpet host Miss Piggy -- will gather Sunday for the biggest night in British film as the BAFTAs once again demonstrate that they are an essential staging post on the road to Oscar night.

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“I’m very pleased with the turnout this year, both with the nominees and the presenters," says BAFTA chief executive Amanda Berry, who says that a majority of nominees and some pretty stellar presenters – including Anil Kapoor, Colin Firth, Christina Hendricks, Noomi Rapace and Penelope Cruz – will be in London for the big night.

Hosted at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden, the BAFTAs will sport a red carpet that runs the length of Bow Street, a main London thoroughfare, as the event shuts down a chunk of central London. Guests will be transported from the Opera House after the ceremony by coach to the aftershow dinner at the Grosvenor House hotel on Park Lane.

Pre-BAFTA parties are being hosted by Esquire for the Rising Star nominees and by Lancome for Emma Watson. Both will take place at the Savoy. British luxury goods merchant Asprey is hosting the Nominees party at its Bond Street flagship store.

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BAFTA voters have picked an eclectic mix of movies this year, showering Brit espionage ensemble Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – which has been largely overlooked elsewhere – with nominations. However, they also followed SAG, the Golden Globes and the Academy by recognizing silent era fest The Artist in multiple categories.

“What I love about this year is the great mix of first timers and old-timers," says Berry.

Woody Allen has his 23rd career BAFTA nomination for Midnight in Paris, while Iron Lady Meryl Streep has her 14th. On the other end of the spectrum, Michael Fassbender (Shame) and Berenice Bejo (The Artist) collected their first noms.

Nostalgia is a running theme in some of the BAFTA voter choices, including The Artist, Midnight in Paris and The Iron Lady, while Shame and We Need to Talk About Kevin recognize a more dystopian take on modernity, Berry noted.

Despite the complication of heavy snowfall that beset London just days before the awards, Berry said she is happy with the timing of the BAFTAs and not keen on the idea to move the Oscars to earlier in the year.

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“There is talk they [the Academy Awards] may move earlier, but internationally they work where they are, from where I’m looking," Berry said. "There’s so much excitement about movies in December, January and February. I think the industry benefits from a longer period.”