'Queen' and its BAFA court
Ten noms leads field; nine for 007Stephen Frears' "The Queen" crowned its commercial and critical success by garnering 10 nominations, including best film and best director, to lead all nominees for the Orange British Academy Film Awards.
The noms were announced Friday; the awards will be handed out Feb. 11 by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
On the regal presence's coattails was Her Majesty's own James Bond, as the spy's latest outing, "Casino Royale," punched its way to nine nominations, including a best actor nom for first-time 007 Daniel Craig.
To secure this year's best film plaudits, "Queen" will have to ward off challenges from "The Departed," "Babel," "The Last King of Scotland" and "Little Miss Sunshine."
Frears also is up against Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("Babel"), Martin Scorsese ("Departed"), Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris ("Sunshine") and Paul Greengrass ("United 93") in the sprint to secure the best director trophy.
Greengrass also is nominated in the best original screenplay category for "United 93" and will face off with Peter Morgan's script for "Queen," Guillermo Arriaga's "Babel," Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" and Michael Arndt's "Sunshine" for writer plaudits.
Morgan and Jeremy Brock are nominated for their "Scotland" script in this year's adapted screenplay section, with William Monahan ("Departed"), Aline Brosh McKenna ("The Devil Wears Prada"), Patrick Marber ("Notes on a Scandal") and Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis ("Casino") also in the running.
Craig's turn as Bond will have to punch out the challenges of Leonardo DiCaprio ("Departed"), Richard Griffiths ("The History Boys"), Peter O'Toole ("Venus") and Forest Whitaker ("Scotland") to win best actor.
Best actress will be picked from among Penelope Cruz ("Volver"), Judi Dench ("Scandal"), Helen Mirren ("Queen"), Meryl Streep ("Prada") and Kate Winslet ("Little Children").
Aside from its best film, original screenplay and direction nominations, "Sunshine" also secured a trio of performance slots.
The movie's Alan Arkin takes his place in the race for best supporting actor, while Abigail Breslin and Toni Collette go up against each other in the best supporting actress section.
Arkin will have to rise above James McAvoy ("Scotland"), Jack Nicholson ("Departed"), Leslie Phillips ("Venus") and Michael Sheen ("Queen") to win best supporting actor. And Breslin and Colette could miss out to Emily Blunt ("Prada"), Frances de la Tour ("History Boys") and Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls") in the vote for best supporting actress.
It's a year of change for the ceremony, as writer, actor-comedian Stephen Frye won't be hosting for the first time in six years. He is being replaced by British talk show host and media personality Jonathan Ross, though BAFTA still is negotiating the deal, insiders said. Ross will be presenting the awards from this year's venue, the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.
But some things remain the same. Cellular phone company Orange is sponsoring the awards for the 10th year in a row, and the ceremony itself will, for the seventh year running, have a pre-Oscar date and be broadcast as live on BBC1.
BAFTA chairman Hilary Bevan-Jones and actor Chiwetel Ejiofor ("Kinky Boots") an-nounced the nominations Friday at BAFTA's Piccadilly headquarters, with 10 categories going out live on BBC television.
Contenders for this year's Alexander Korda Award for outstanding British film of the year are the producers of "Casino," "Scotland," "Scandal," "Queen" and "United 93."
In the event's other exclusively British category — the Carl Foreman Award for special achievement by a director, producer or writer in a first feature — helmers Andrea Arnold ("Red Road"), Julian Gilbey ("Rollin' With the Nines"), Gary Tarn ("Black Sun") and Paul Andrew Williams ("London to Brighton") will duke it out with producer Christine Langan ("Pierrepoint") for the prize.
The winner of non-English- language movie category will this year come from among "Apocalypto," "Black Book," "Labyrinth," "Rang de Basanti" and "Volver."
This year's animated feature category will be won by "Cars," "Flushed Away" or "Happy Feet."
A complete list of nominees can be found at www.holly woodreporter.com.