'Gravity' leads Britain's BAFTA film nominations

Wed Jan 8, 2014 4:40am EST
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - Space thriller "Gravity" won 11 BAFTA nominations on Wednesday, putting it just ahead of the pack at Britain's top film honors, while "12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle" were in the running in 10 categories.

"Gravity", starring Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, was shortlisted in categories including best film, best actress, best director for Alfonso Cuaron, best sound and visual effects, and outstanding British film.

The nomination for top British film gave "Gravity" the edge over U.S. rivals in a highly competitive year in which the unflinching slavery drama, "12 Years a Slave", from British director Steve McQueen, is topping many U.S. award lists.

That film is heading the nominations across the Atlantic for the January 12 Golden Globe awards and is a favorite for the Oscars on March 2. Its British lead actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, is also nominated for the BAFTA best actor prize.

Ejiofor, 36, gained recognition as the lead in the 2002 dark crime thriller "Dirty Pretty Things" but his role in "12 Years a Slave" as a free man kidnapped and sold into slavery has thrust him into the limelight, winning him a list of award nominations.

"I continue to be immensely proud of the recognition this film is getting around the world. There is, of course, something particularly special about receiving a BAFTA nomination from home," Ejiofor said in a statement.

Other films competing for the BAFTA best film award are 1970s con-men caper "American Hustle", Somali pirate thriller "Captain Phillips", and the heart-tugging adoption drama "Philomena".

Of these five films vying for the top prize, all but "Philomena" are also competing for the best director award with Cuaron running alongside McQueen, David O. Russell for "American Hustle" and Paul Greengrass for "Captain Phillips". The fifth in this field was Hollywood veteran Martin Scorsese for his tale of American greed "The Wolf of Wall Street".   Continued...

From L to R: President, Creative Development and Worldwide Production, Warner Bros. Pictures, Greg Silverman, screenwriter Jonas Cuaron, actors George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, director Alfonso Cuaron, producer David Heyman and Warner Bros. President of Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution, Sue Kroll arrive for the New York premiere of 'GRAVITY' October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly