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In this file photo, BAFTA awards are lined up, Feb 10, 2014, in London, ahead of the British Academy of Film and Television Art Awards on Sunday.
‘Gravity’, ‘Slave’ battle for Baftas Special award for Mirren

LONDON, Feb 14, (Agencies): “Gravity” leads the nominations for the Baftas on Sunday, but the harrowing “12 Years a Slave” is tipped to win the top honours at the last major awards ceremony before the Oscars. Hollywood stars are due to pack out the Royal Opera House in London for the glitzy red carpet event, attended by Prince William and hosted for a ninth time by actor Stephen Fry. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards are a useful guide to which way the Academy Awards might go on March 2. Last year “Argo” won for best film, Daniel Day-Lewis for best actor, and Christoph Waltz and Anne Hathaway in the best supporting categories — awards replicated at the Oscars. With British-made films such as space drama “Gravity” proving box office hits, and UK actors earning critical acclaim, the Baftas seem likely to reward home-grown talent.

“Gravity” has 11 nominations; Golden Globe winners “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle” were each nominated in 10 categories, while “Captain Phillips” was nominated nine times. “Behind the Candelabra” and “Saving Mr. Banks” have five nominations each. “12 Years a Slave”, starring British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor as a free black man who is kidnapped and enslaved in the United States, is nominated in five of the big six categories. Bookmakers have “12 Years a Slave” as the 1/8 runaway favourite for best film, with Ejiofor even more heavily odds-on for best actor at 1/10.

Cate Blanchett is also 1/10 for best actress for her title role portrayal in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine”.
“Gravity” director Alfonso Cuaron is a 1/2 favourite in his category. “These really are the precursor to the Oscars,” said Joe Crilly, spokesman for betting chain William Hill. “Usually you have a little battle on your hands — at least for best film — where normally two are relatively close, but this year it’s strange that there are so many odds-on favourites,” he told AFP.

Bias
“There’s also the British bias that you generally tend to see at the Baftas. “If you’ve got an incredible performance by a non-British actor you will always see them do quite well. But Ejiofor puts in a very good performance and being British we think he shades it over Leonardo DiCaprio.” The Best Film Award is being disputed between “12 Years a Slave”, “American Hustle”, “Captain Phillips”, “Gravity” and “Philomena”. Judi Dench is nominated for drama “Philomena” in the best actress category — a record 15th Bafta acting nomination taking her one clear of Meryl Streep. Workers at the Royal Opera House have already been working out the seating plan for the likes of DiCaprio, Blanchett, Dench and Sandra Bullock.

Fellow nominees Matt Damon, Michael Fassbender, Bradley Cooper, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and Martin Scorsese will also be treading the red carpet. However, they might be squelching down it under umbrellas if the storms that have been lashing Britain since New Year continue. Helping to present the awards will be the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Jeremy Irons, Kiefer Sutherland, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Stanley Tucci and Uma Thurman. Bafta’s highest accolade, the Academy Fellowship, is being given this year to Helen Mirren, “in recognition of her exceptional contribution to film”. Prince William, second in line to the throne and the academy’s president, will present her with the award.

Previous recipients include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor, Christopher Lee, Anthony Hopkins and Scorsese.
Mirren, a four-time Bafta winner, is “one of the most outstanding actresses of her generation,” said the academy’s chairman John Willis.
“Helen’s incredibly successful career is testament to the determination, dedication and skill she brings to each of her roles.”
Besides the regular categories, Bafta also has an Outstanding British Film award.
“Gravity”, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”, “Philomena”, “Rush”, “Saving Mr. Banks” and “The Selfish Giant” are in the running this year.

Nominees
Best Film: “12 Years a Slave”; “American Hustle”; “Captain Phillips”; “Gravity”; “Philomena”.
Best Leading Actor: Bruce Dern (“Nebraska”); Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”); Christian Bale (“American Hustle”); Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”); Tom Hanks (“Captain Phillips”).
Best Leading Actress: Amy Adams (“American Hustle”); Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”); Emma Thompson (“Saving Mr. Banks”); Judi Dench (“Philomena”); Sandra Bullock (“Gravity”).
Best Supporting Actor: Barkhad Abdi (“Captain Phillips”); Bradley Cooper (“American Hustle”); Daniel Bruhl (“Rush”); Matt Damon (“Behind the Candelabra”); Michael Fassbender (“12 Years a Slave”)
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence (“American Hustle”); Julia Roberts (“August: Osage County”); Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”); Oprah Winfrey (“The Butler”); Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”).
Best Director: Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”); David O. Russell (“American Hustle”); Paul Greengrass (“Captain Phillips”); Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”); Martin Scorsese (“The Wolf of Wall Street”).

The force of “Gravity” was overwhelming on Wednesday night at the Visual Effects Society’s 12th annual VES Awards, as the film won six awards and dominated the feature-film categories on the way to what could be an easy visual-effects win at the Oscars in two-and-a-half weeks.
Alfonso Cuaron’s spectacle set in Earth orbit won in six out of the seven categories in which it was eligible, including Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture, the category that most closely corresponds to the Oscar’ Best Visual Effects category.
Four of this year’s five Oscar nominees were competing in the category, whose winner has gone on to win the Academy Award in eight of the previous 11 years.
The results were such a foregone conclusion that host Patton Oswalt kicked off the show by welcoming guests to “the first annual ‘Gravity’ awards!” The film had eight nominations in seven different categories, and only lost twice on a night when its director was also honored with the VES’s Visionary Award.
The first “Gravity” loss was to itself in the Outstanding Created Environment category, where it had two nominations. (In other words, it simultaneously won and lost.) The second was to “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” in the Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Motion Picture category, in which the dragon Smaug beat Sandra Bullock’s character Ryan.
 

The only other live-action feature to win an award was “The Lone Ranger,” which took the prize for Supporting Visual Effects, a category in which an effects-heavy movie like “Gravity” is not eligible.
Disney’s “Frozen” was even more dominant in the four animated-feature categories, winning all four.
“Game of Thrones” was the big winner in the television categories, with three awards. Other TV honors went to the pilot of “Banshee” and the PETA commercial “98% Human,” which won two awards in categories for which broadcast programs and commercials were both eligible, as well as one in a commercials-only category.
Like “Captain Phillips” director Paul Greengrass, who was given an honorary award by the American Cinema Editors last week on the same night his film won the group’s top award for dramatic film, Alfonso Cuaron received the organization’s top honorary award for a filmmaker, the Visionary Award, before his film won the night’s biggest prize.
Cuaron’s was one of two honorary awards presented at the show; the other was the Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to John Dykstra, whose effects work includes “Star Wars,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and the first two “Spider-Man” films.
The show, which took place in the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, also included a tribute to stop-motion pioneer Ray Harryhausen, who died last May.
The Visual Effects Society is a worldwide, honorary society of professionals in the visual-effects field.
 

Winners:
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture: “Gravity”: Tim Webber, Nikki Penny, Chris Lawrence, Richard Mcbride
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture: “The Lone Ranger”: Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Shari Hanson, Kevin Martel
Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture: “Frozen”: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho, Lino Di Salvo
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program: “Game of Thrones” — “Valar Dohaeris”: Steve Kullback, Joe Bauer, J­ðrn Gro­ühans, Sven Martin
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program: “Banshee” — Pilot: Armen Kevorkian, Mark Skowronski, Jeremy Jozwik, Ricardo Ramirez
Outstanding Real-Time Visuals in a Video Game: “Call of Duty” - “Ghosts”: Mark Rubin, Richard Kriegler, David Johnson, Alessandro Nardini
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial: “PETA: 98% Human”: Angus Kneale, Vince Baertsoen, Colin Blaney, Kyle Cody
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project: “Space Shuttle Atlantis”: Daren Ulmer, John Gross, Cedar Connor, Christian Bloch
Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture: “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” - Smaug: Eric Reynolds, David Clayton, Myriam Catrin, Guillaume Francois
Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture: “Frozen” — Snow Queen: Alexander Alvarado, Joy Johnson, Chad Stubblefield, Wayne Unten
Outstanding Animated Character in a Commercial or Broadcast Program: “PETA: 98% Human”: Vince Baertsoen, Alex Allain, Henning Koczy
Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture: “Gravity” — Exterior: Paul Beilby, Kyle Mcculloch, Stuart Penn, Ian Comley
Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture: “Frozen” — Elsa’s Ice Palace: Virgilio John Aquino, Alessandro Jacomini, Lance Summers, David Womersley
Outstanding Created Environment in a Commercial or Broadcast Program: “Game of Thrones” — The Climb: Patrick Zentis, Mayur Patel, Nitin Singh, Tim Alexander
Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture: “Gravity”: Tim Webber, Emmanuel Lubezki, Richard Mcbride, Dale Newton
Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Commercial or Broadcast Program: “The Crew”: Dominique Boidin, Rémi Kozyra, Léon Bérelle, Maxime Luère
Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture: “Gravity” — ISS Exterior: Ben Lambert, Paul Beilby, Chris Lawrence, Andy Nicholson
Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture: “Gravity” — Parachute and ISS Destruction: Alexis Wajsbrot, Sylvain Degrotte, Horacio Mendoza, Juan-Luis Sanchez
Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture: “Frozen” — Elsa’s Blizzard: Eric W. Araujo, Marc Bryant, Dong Joo Byun, Tim Molinder
Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in a Commercial or Broadcast Program: “PETA: 98% Human”: Vince Baertsoen, Jimmy Gass, Dave Barosin
Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture: “Gravity”: Mark Bakowski, Anthony Smith, Theodor Groeneboom, Adrian Metzelaar
Outstanding Compositing in a Broadcast Program: “Game of Thrones” — The Climb: Kirk Brillon, Steve Gordon, Geoff Sayer, Winston Lee
Outstanding Compositing in a Commercial: “Call of Duty”- “Epic Night Out”: Chris Knight, Daniel Thuresson, Nick Tayler, Dag Ivarsory
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project: “Rugbybugs”: Alexandra Stautmeiste.
 

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