Bafta nominations 2014: Gravity leads race, but Mandela overlooked
12 Years a Slave and American Hustle among favourites as Philomena's Judi Dench is tipped for 15th award
SPACE, slavery and Seventies con artists are the focus of this year's nominations for Britain's top film awards.
Gravity, the critically-acclaimed science-fiction thriller starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, leads the pack with 11 nominations including best film and best British film. It will be up against the slave drama 12 Years a Slave and the crime comedy-drama, American Hustle, which have 10 nominations each.
Not surprisingly, Gravity - which was directed by Alfonso Cuaron and shot on sound stages at the British studios Pinewood and Shepperton - has accumulated a "huge raft" of technical nominations, says The Guardian. Meanwhile, 12 Years a Slave, "performed well in more traditional acting and script categories".
The Guardian says the Bafta nominations will be particularly encouraging for the producers of American Hustle which was largely overlooked in the nominations for the London Critics Circle awards.
Today's nominations – just one of the bellwether events in the run-up to the Oscars on 2 March – also created a "dark horse", the Guardian says. Captain Phillips, a drama about a container ship captain (played by Tom Hanks) who is kidnapped by Somali pirates, scored nine Bafta nominations despite being a "quiet performer" in the awards season so far.
Philomena, a British drama about a woman searching for the son she was forced to give up for adoption, fared "marginally less well" than expected, The Guardian says. Its four nominations include best film and outstanding British film, but one of its leads, Steve Coogan, was overlooked in the acting categories.
However, Philomena did provide Judi Dench with yet another leading actress nomination, making her Bafta's most nominated movie actress. She has been nominated 15 times, including six wins.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment was the poor showing by Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which scored just one nomination, for outstanding British film. The drama August: Osage County - a film hotly-tipped for success as the Oscars – will also be licking its wounds after picking up a single Bafta nomination for best supporting actress (Julia Roberts).
Stephen Fry will again host this year's Bafta ceremony, which takes place on 16 February at the Royal Opera House in London. You can find a full list of the nominations here.