Mike Leigh not so 'Lucky' at BAFTAs

Film absent from long lists for best film, director

LONDON -- Benjamin Button and Richard Nixon will have an edge over Mike Leigh when the British Academy of Film and Television Arts dishes out its prizes next month.

Leigh and his "Happy-Go-Lucky" will not be in the running for nods in either the best film or director categories at February's Orange British Academy Film Awards, an absence that has prompted whispers from those who consider it a major omission.

But the helmer's latest effort likely will turn up in the best British film category when the full list of noms is announced Jan. 15. That category is not among the 17 included on the long list sent to BAFTA voting members.

That list includes 14 mentions for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Frost/Nixon," while "Slumdog Millionaire," "The Reader," "Revolutionary Road, "Changeling" and "The Dark Knight" each turn up 13 times. There are 11 mentions "Milk" and "Burn After Reading."

Other movies vying for a best film nomination are "Doubt," "The Wrestler," "In Bruges," "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas," "Wall-E" and "I've Loved You So Long."

The BAFTA longlists include 15 contenders in each major category, from which five nominees are chosen in the second round of voting. Once the five nominees are finalized, the whole membership votes again to decide the best film, four acting prizes and film not in the English language. In all remaining categories, the members of each chapter (or jury) determine the vote.

The winner of this year's foreign-language category will come from among "The Baader Meinhof Complex," "Gomorrah," "I've Loved You So Long," "Persepolis" and "Waltz With Bashir."

Organizers said that the foreign-language noms have been unveiled ahead of the other categories to allow BAFTA voting members "a longer period to view the five films in contention."

BAFTA also said it will "give a greater profile to this year's foreign-language films."

The awards are set for Feb. 8 at London's Royal Opera House.