Find out who is in the running for a BAFTA.
All eyes will be on the Royal Opera House in London tonight as Stephen Fry hosts the 67th British Academy Film Awards.
Leading the charge for the famous BAFTA masks is the ground-breaking Gravity, with 11 nominations including Best Film, Outstanding British Film, Director and Original Screenplay. American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave are close behind with 10 nominations each.
Dame Judi Dench has become the most nominated actress to date for Philomena, while the man who wrote the film is still “dumbfounded” to have been rewarded with his first.
The Sunday Post runs the rule over the hopefuls and tracks Steve Coogan’s unlikely journey up the red carpet.
In 1981 Steve Coogan opened an envelope, the contents of which suggested he wouldn’t amount to much. Schoolboy Steve had failed his English O-level and he didn’t do any better when he re-sat the exam again the following year.
But tonight, at a glittering, star-studded ceremony in London, the contents of an envelope will tell us if Steve has been voted the best scriptwriter in Britain over the past 12 months. And in two weeks’ time we’ll find out if he’s the best in the world.
“I failed my English O-level twice and now I’ve got an Oscar nomination,” said Coogan of the accolades that have come his way this year. “It’s way beyond anything we hoped for when we started the film.”
That film is Philomena and the journey started in 2010 when the Manchester-born star read a newspaper article written by former BBC foreign correspondent and government spin doctor, Martin Sixsmith.
It told the story of Irishwoman Philomena Lee, abandoned by her family when she became pregnant as a teenager, whose son was sold for adoption by the nuns who had put a roof over head.
Philomena moved to England and kept the existence of her son a secret for 50 years until enlisting journalist Sixsmith, with whom they shared a mutual friend, to help search for him.
“What captured my imagination was a photo of Martin next to Philomena on a bench,” recalled Coogan.
“Martin was a journalist, an intellectual, middle-class, Oxbridge-educated man who had got to know this retired, working-class, Irish nurse. And they struck me as an odd couple.”
Eyeing the part of Sixsmith for himself, Coogan wrote down the names of the actresses he’d like to play the title role. Top of that list was Judi Dench and he nervously visited her at her home in Sussex to show her his script.
“I called her ‘Dame Judi’ until she told me to stop,” remembered Steve of the meeting. Judi served Steve tea and sandwiches, agreed to take on the role and has also been rewarded with a BAFTA and Oscar nomination.
“It’s bizarre that I helped Judi to an Oscar nomination,” smiles Steve. “She was great to work with. There’s no real front to her and she’s got a wonderful sense of humour. Most of the time we talked about anything but what we were doing: it was a heavy subject matter and so it was nice to talk about anything other than the script. It was very relaxed.
“There were one or two times when I took a picture of us on set, and e-mailed it to everyone I know. It is Judi Dench, after all.”
But the most important woman attached to the film for Steve was the one whose story was being played out on screen.
“Philomena is very pleased with the film,” he says of the retired nurse. “She’s seen it a couple of times and the first time she was nervous, as anyone would be when you watch someone else portray elements of your life, but the second time she did enjoy it.
“I chatted with her a lot during the writing process and what came across was her positivity: she wears her experiences quite lightly. She really does have a glass half full outlook and I wanted the film to reflect that.”
Kenneth Branagh believes that the success of British actresses at this year’s Bafta and Oscar ceremonies is down to a lot of talent and because they’re cheaper to employ!
Dame Judi Dench and Branagh’s ex-wife, Emma Thompson, have both been nominated on the shortlist of five for the Best Actress category, for Philomena and Saving Mr Banks respectively.
And Sally Hawkins has been nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. Dench and Hawkins have followed up this success with Oscar nominations.
“It’s very hard to say what captures the eye and the imagination,” says Ken of the golden year for British actresses. “I know in the independent sector where very different and interesting work in film is often done, the way those films are financed means a lot of it comes over this way [to Britain].
“There are some great British actresses working at the moment and but it’s probably no more mysterious than that which is, we’re lucky!”
George Clooney says he had no idea how good Gravity was going to be until he sat and watched it at the film’s premiere.
“Sandy (co-star Sandra Bullock) and I had no idea what was going on because it was in post-production for two years before it was finished,” says the actor, who played US astronaut Matt Kowalski in Alfonso Cuaron’s special effects masterpiece, “It was crazy, they were doing stuff that they hadn’t even invented yet in terms of CGI. Alfonso really is a genius. I can’t tell you what an honour it was to work with him.”
The list of nominees
12 Years a Slave
Darryl’s Verdict: With its use of 3D and astonishing special effects, Gravity was the best film I saw at the cinema this year. However, if I was renting a DVD there’d be plenty of films I’d pick over Gravity, with 12 Years A Slave top of the list. Visual spectacle or vivid storyline? I think Bafta will be slaves to the latter.
Outstanding British Film
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Saving Mr Banks
The Selfish Giant
Darryl’s Verdict: The Bafta judges really need to explain how this list can include Gravity (British technology but made by a Mexican) and not 12 Years A Slave (made by a Londoner and starring one too).
Best Adapted Screenplay
12 Years a Slave
Behind the Candelabra
The Wolf of Wall Street
Darryl’s Verdict: It would be a great story if Steve Coogan rose from being an impressionist on Spitting Image to a BAFTA scriptwriting award. But, once again, Philomena could be trumped by 12 Years a Slave.
Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)
Darryl’s Verdict: Another moan is that this list is missing the likely Oscar winner, Matthew McConaughey, due to Dallas Buyers Club being released in the UK after the their deadline. That should leave the way free for 12 Years A Slave’s Chiwetel Ejiofor to take home the gold.
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks)
Darryl’s Verdict: Any other year Judi Dench would get it for Philomena. But in truth there are four solid candidates then there’s Blanchett’s virtuoso performance in Blue Jasmine.
Best supporting actress
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
Oprah Winfrey (The Butler)
Darryl’s Verdict: A wide open category which might come down to a popularity contest in which case Jennifer Lawrence will be making another trip up to the podium to collect an award.
Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Adbi (Captain Phillips)
Daniel Bruhl (Rush)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Matt Damon (Behind the Candelabra)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
Darryl’s Verdict: It will be the feelgood story of the night if Barkhad Adbi, an unknown Somali-born American in his first film, wins for Captain Phillips. He should start practising his own version of the Mo-Bot!
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