LONDON (Reuters) - Home fans will be hoping for British success at the BAFTAs on Sunday with Daniel Day-Lewis the strong favourite to win best actor for the title role in “Lincoln” and local box office hits “Les Miserables” and “Skyfall” up for a shelf-full of prizes.
U.S. hopes at Britain’s top film awards ceremony will be resting on “Argo”, Ben Affleck’s drama about the rescue of American hostages from Iran in 1979, which eclipsed Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” at several major Hollywood award nights.
“Argo” has seven BAFTA nominations including for best film. The other contenders for the top honour are “Lincoln”, “Les Miserables”, “Life of Pi” and “Zero Dark Thirty”.
Top of the nominations table with 10 entries is the biopic of President Abraham Lincoln but a sweep of statuettes may not be a foregone conclusion after disappointing performances at the Golden Globes and elsewhere.
However, Day-Lewis seems a safe bet for the leading actor gong, with odds of 1/25 offered by gambling firm William Hill.
The elusive Briton, hailed last year as “the world’s greatest actor” by Time magazine, has already won a string of U.S. awards for his performance as Lincoln and he is nominated for what would be his third best actor Oscar for the role.
In the best film category the odds suggested “Argo” was in pole position with odds of 1/4, ahead of “Lincoln” on 9/2.
Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi”, about a man and a tiger lost at sea, has nine BAFTA nominations including best director for the eclectic Taiwanese veteran.
“Les Miserables”, the film version of a global hit stage musical, also has nine BAFTA nominations including best supporting actress for Anne Hathaway.
The latest James Bond movie, “Skyfall”, is nominated in eight categories but despite becoming the most successful film in British box office history did not make the shortlist for best film or director. That was the latest in a long string of awards disappointments for Bond fans over the decades.
William Hill predicted “Skyfall” would lose out to “Les Miserables” in the outstanding British film category.
“Anna Karenina”, an experimental British adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel, is up for six BAFTAs.
Quentin Tarantino’s slavery-era Western “Django Unchained” and Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty”, a thriller about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, have five nominations apiece.
Tarantino and Bigelow, both heavy hitters among U.S. filmmakers, are both up for the best director award.
They will be up against Austria’s Michael Haneke, nominated for “Amour”, about an elderly couple struggling to cope with the aftermath of a stroke. The French-language film has four nominations, an unusually high number for a film not in English.
French actress Emanuelle Riva, 85, is nominated for the leading actress BAFTA for her role in “Amour”. Her rivals for the award are Helen Mirren in “Hitchcock”, Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”, Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty” and Marion Cotillard in “Rust and Bone”.
The contenders for best actor are Day-Lewis, Affleck in “Argo”, Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”, Hugh Jackman in “Les Miserables” and Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”.
Versatile British director Alan Parker, whose body of work ranges from child musical gangster film “Bugsy Malone” to Turkish-set prison thriller “Midnight Express” and civil rights drama “Mississippi Burning”, will receive a BAFTA fellowship.
The BAFTAs ceremony is scheduled to start at 1900 GMT at the Royal Opera House in the Covent Garden area of London.
Editing by Stephen Powell