In Depth

Baftas: The dark horse nominees that are in with a chance

While La La Land hogs the spotlight, there are some lesser known contenders that might surprise us

Fresh from its success at the Golden Globes, Los Angeles musical La La Land may be the main contender in the Bafta Film Awards next month, but there are less famous nominees that might also be in with a chance.

La La Land was tipped for 11 awards when the shortlists were announced this morning by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner and actor Dominic Cooper. The meditative science-fiction film Arrival and Tom Ford's noirish drama Nocturnal Animals scored nine nods each.

The Baftas are British awards but any film released in the UK is eligible in any category except outstanding British film and outstanding British debut. 

Here are five dark horse contenders that could surprise us during the awards ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 12 February:

Under the Shadow – Outstanding British Film

While Ken Loach's austerity drama I, Daniel Blake is the front-runner in this category, there has been a growing buzz about the moody charms of the horror film Under the Shadow. It tells the story of a woman and her daughter, who are living in a bombed apartment building in war-torn 1980s Tehran and are plagued by an evil spirit. The British-produced directorial debut from the Iranian-born director Babak Anvari (it's also nominated in the Outstanding Debut category) was selected as the British entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for this year's Academy Awards but wasn't shortlisted. Empire calls it a "quality ghost story with an unusual backdrop and great performances".

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic – Best Leading Actor 

Ryan Gosling is of course the frontrunner in this category for La La Land, but Viggo Mortensen has garnered many tributes for his performance in the offbeat comedy drama Captain Fantastic about a family forced to reintegrate into society after living in isolation for a decade. The Wrap praises Mortensen for his lead role as Ben: "He's a tough but adoring father, a grieving widower and an angry defender of his wife's final wishes, and Mortensen plays all these notes and more with subtlety and grace".

Notes on Blindness – Outstanding Debut 

Nominated in both the Outstanding Debut and Outstanding British Film categories, Notes on Blindness is a verbatim style docu-drama chronicling the journey of writer and academic John Hull who went blind just before the birth of his son. The film is based on the audiocassette diaries Hull made in the 1980s, which are then voiced by actors. The Guardian says it "lends boldly adventurous cinematic form to the heightened experiences of an articulate, eloquent and soul-searchingly honest subject".

Toni Erdmann – Film Not in the English Language 

German comedy-drama Toni Erdmann has kept a relatively low profile compared with other foreign language contenders such as Pedro Almodovar's Julieta or Jacques Audiard's Dheepan, but it could be a surprise winner. The film follows the story of a depressed woman (Sandra Huller) forced to spend time with her estranged and equally off-key father (Peter Simonischek) when he comes for a surprise visit. Variety has called it "a humane, hilarious triumph".

Kubo and the Two Strings – Animation

While all the attention for animated films has focused on the big Hollywood hits Zootropolis, Moana and Finding Dory, stop-motion animation, Kubo and the Two Strings has quietly gathered its own band of admirers. The epic Japanese-set fantasy-adventure from the acclaimed Laika studio follows Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones), who makes a living telling stories until he accidentally summons a spirit from his past seeking to fulfil an ancient vendetta. The Times calls it a "glorious flight of the imagination".

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