'Scotland' duo, 'Queen' pic among top BIFA nominees

O'Toole also up for lead actor prize

An eclectic mix of acting talent ranging from "The Last King of Scotland" co-stars Forest Whitaker and James McAvoy to veteran Peter O'Toole find themselves in the mix for the best actor award at the ninth annual British Independent Film Awards, organizers said Wednesday.

Whitaker, McAvoy and O'Toole ("Venus") will face Cillian Murphy ("The Wind That Shakes the Barley") and Tony Curran ("Red Road") in the race for the acting prize, one of 17 plaudits to be dished out Nov. 29 during a ceremony at London's Hammersmith Palais.

Stephen Frears' "The Queen" dominates the main award categories with nominations for best director, British independent film and Helen Mirren's turn in the title role. Other films gathering multiple nominations include "Scotland" and Shane Meadows' "This Is England."

Frears will battle with Kevin Macdonald ("Scotland"), Michael Caton-Jones ("Shooting Dogs"), Meadows and Ken Loach ("Barley") for best director honors.

To secure the best British independent film award, "Queen" will have to reign over Andrea Arnold's "Red Road," "England," "Scotland" and "Barley."

Aiming to beat Mirren to the punch in the best actress category are Robin Wright Penn and Juliette Binoche from Anthony Minghella's "Breaking and Entering," Kate Dickie ("Red Road") and Frances De La Tour ("The History Boys").

The best supporting actor/ actress category sees veteran stage and screen actor Leslie Phillips vie with fellow "Venus" star Vanessa Redgrave, previous BIFA winner Martin Compston ("Red Road"), and Joseph Gilgun and Stephen Graham ("England").

Best screenplay will go to Alan Bennett ("History Boys"), Peter Morgan ("Queen"), Hanif Kureishi ("Venus"), Meadows ("England") or Morgan and Jeremy Brock ("Scotland").

This year's recipient of the Richard Harris Award for outstanding contribution by an actor to British film has not been announced.

The event also will feature the third year of the Raindance Award for independent film, with the winner coming from "The Ballad of AJ Weberman," "London to Brighton" or "Scenes of a Sexual Nature," organizers said.

Established by the British film industry and in its ninth year, the awards honor the U.K. independent film community with prizes voted on by select juries of filmmakers.

Chaired by Sandy Lierberson, this year's jury includes Anna Friel, Mick Jones, Damian Lewis, Damien O'Donnell and Colin Salmon.

Lieberson announced the nominations at a Wednesday ceremony.

The Special Jury Prize will be disclosed on the evening of the awards.

A complete list of BIFA nominations can be found at www.hollywoodreporter.com.