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''The Queen'' takes on Bond at British film awards

By Staff
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Google Oneindia News

LONDON, Jan 13 (Reuters) James Bond will take on Her Majesty at the British film awards, with ''Casino Royale'' garnering nine BAFTA nominations on Friday, just one behind frontrunner ''The Queen''.

Stephen Frears was on the best director shortlist for ''The Queen'', and Helen Mirren, an Oscar favourite in the leading role, was a best actress nominee for her portrayal of a confused monarch at the time of Princess Diana's death in 1997.

Daniel Craig, the controversial choice to replace Pierce Brosnan as superspy James Bond in ''Casino Royale'', was vindicated with a nomination for best actor.

'''Casino Royale' has got nine nominations including best actor for Daniel Craig which is really one in the eye for all those people who said he wasn't the right person for the job,'' film critic Mark Kermode told the BBC.

Craig will be up against Leonardo DiCaprio in ''The Departed'', Richard Griffiths in ''The History Boys'', Peter O'Toole in ''Venus'' and Forest Whitaker in ''The Last King of Scotland'', in which he portrays brutal Ugandan leader Idi Amin.

Bookmaker William Hill made Whitaker the favourite for the prize, followed by O'Toole, DiCaprio and then Craig.

Griffiths was gracious about his outsider status.

''I am naturally thrilled to bits, as I have never been nominated for a movie award before,'' he said in a statement.

''However, I will be astonished, dismayed and disappointed if it isn't awarded to Peter O'Toole.'' William Hill also expects ''The Queen'' to walk off with the best film statuette and Mirren with the best actress award.

She is competing with fellow British veteran Judi Dench for her role in school sex drama ''Notes on a Scandal'', Penelope Cruz for ''Volver'', Meryl Streep in fashion comedy ''The Devil Wears Prada'' and Kate Winslet in ''Little Children''.

In the best film category, ''The Queen'' is joined by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's ''Babel'', ''The Departed'', directed by Martin Scorsese, ''The Last King of Scotland'' and low-budget beauty pageant comedy ''Little Miss Sunshine''.

Frears takes on directors Scorsese, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (''Little Miss Sunshine''), Inarritu and Paul Greengrass for his fact-based September 11 drama ''United 93''.

OSCAR BAROMETER? In 2001 the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' annual awards were moved to before the Oscars, helping them to attract some of Hollywood's biggest stars hoping to generate buzz as the awards season reached its climax.

But the BAFTAs, with a slant towards British films and different rules, have only a patchy record of predicting who will pick up Academy Awards.

Best supporting actor nominations went to Alan Arkin (''Little Miss Sunshine''), James McAvoy (''The Last King of Scotland'', Jack Nicholson (''The Departed''), Leslie Phillips (''Venus'') and Michael Sheen (''The Queen'').

Up for best supporting actress are Emily Blunt (''The Devil Wears Prada''), Abigail Breslin and Toni Collette (''Little Miss Sunshine''), Frances de la Tour (''The History Boys'') and Jennifer Hudson (''Dreamgirls'').

''Pan's Labyrinth'', a fantasy set in Spain during World War Two, garnered eight BAFTA nominations, ''Babel'', starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett and exploring cultural and linguistic barriers, won seven, and crime thriller ''The Departed'', ''Little Miss Sunshine'' and ''United 93'' each won six.

The awards will be handed out on February 11.

REUTERS SY RAI0927

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