Day-Lewis carries hopes of home crowd at top British film awards

Fri Feb 8, 2013 6:23am EST
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By Estelle Shirbon

LONDON (Reuters) - Home-grown talent will feel the pressure to perform at the BAFTAs on Sunday with Daniel Day-Lewis expected to win best actor for his role in "Lincoln" and British films as diverse as "Les Miserables" and "Skyfall" up for a range of trophies.

But there could be stiff competition at Britain's top movie awards ceremony from "Argo", a drama directed by Ben Affleck about the rescue of American hostages from Iran in 1979, which has just beaten Lincoln to a clutch of prestigious U.S. prizes.

Argo has seven BAFTA nominations including for best film. The other contenders for the top honor are "Lincoln", "Les Miserables", "Life of Pi" and "Zero Dark Thirty".

Steven Spielberg's biopic of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln leads the field with 10 nominations but a sweep of statuettes may not be a foregone conclusion. The film had a disappointing Golden Globes, winning just one award out of seven nominations.

Briton Day-Lewis, hailed last year as "the world's greatest actor" on the front page of Time magazine, appears to be a safe bet for the best actor BAFTA after winning a string of U.S. awards for his performance as Lincoln. Day-Lewis is nominated for what would be his third best actor Oscar for the role.

Betting firm William Hill confirmed Day-Lewis as the runaway favorite for best actor with odds of 1/25, but in the best film category "Argo" was ahead with odds of 1/4, ahead of "Lincoln" on 9/2.

Ang Lee's visually arresting "Life of Pi", about a man and a tiger lost at sea in a small boat, has a strong chance to shine with 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, who has been widely praised for her poignant portrayal of tragic heroine Fantine.   Continued...

Actors Daniel Day-Lewis shown in a scene from the film "Lincoln" in this publicity photo released to Reuters January 10, 2013. REUTERS/Walt Disney Pictures/20th Century Fox/Handout