BAFTA Film Nominations: First for Benedict Cumberbatch, Timothy Spall Snubbed

Benedict Cumberbatch - H 2014
Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

In a surprise, 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' leads the charge, while BAFTA goes for newer faces over established names

It may be hard to believe given his current ubiquity, but Benedict Cumberbatch had never received a BAFTA nomination for a film before this year as the British Academy in general went for newer faces over long-established names.

Cumberbatch, who has had a few BAFTA TV nominations for Sherlock, was among the names revealed in the announcement Friday for the 68th BAFTA awards nominations, predictably finding himself in the running for best leading actor for his portrayal of WWII code-breaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game.

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Cumberbatch will be going up against fellow Oscar hopeful and BAFTA newcomer Eddie Redmayne for his turn as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything at the Feb. 8 ceremony. Michael Keaton (Birdman), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) and Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel) were also nominated. Fiennes was perhaps the surprise addition as Timothy Spall didn’t make the cut for Mr. Turner in one of the most notable snubs.

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Mr. Turner — Mike Leigh’s most successful film to date at the British box office — also didn’t make a single appearance in the major categories, despite best actor wins for Spall in Cannes and more recently at the European Film Awards.

Also notable was BAFTA's preference for new faces over established names. Fiennes is the only BAFTA best actor vet. All other lead actor contenders are first-timers in the category. Gyllenhaal won a best supporting actor BAFTA for Brokeback Mountain but has never before been nominated as lead actor. Fiennes has four previous best actor BAFTA nominations, although he has never won the category, picking up his only BAFTA for best supporting actor in Schindler's List. In the best actress category, only Amy Adams and Julianne Moore are previous nominees, going up against BAFTA newbies Reese Witherspoon, Rosamund Pike and Felicity Jones.

Alongside Mr. Turner, another noted omission was Selma, which didn’t pick up a single nomination.

Another snub was for Morten Tyldum. Despite The Imitation Game getting a nomination for outstanding British film, Tyldum didn’t make it into the director’s category, with Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel) the less predictable additions alongside the widely expected Alejandro G. Inarritu (Birdman), Richard Linklater (Boyhood) and James Marsh (The Theory of Everything).

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The surprise of the morning was arguably The Grand Budapest Hotel. Despite having had its release almost one year ago, the film emerged as the overall frontrunner with 11 nominations, including for best film. The rest of the best film category — the winner of which has mirrored that of the Oscars for the past five years — was as largely predicted: The Imitation Game, Boyhood, The Theory of Everything and Birdman. The Theory of Everything and Birdman closely followed The Grand Budapest Hotel in the number of nominations, with 10 each.