BRITAIN could be celebrating one of its most successful Oscar nights next month after a host of home-grown stars were nominated for acting honours.
Actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne, Rosamund Pike, Felicity Jones and Keira Knightley are all nominated.
Overall Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel lead the race for this year’s Oscars with nine nominations each.
Unexpectedly, Redmayne and Cumberbatch will go head-to-head in the race to be named best actor. They are up against Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper and Michael Keaton.
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Redmayne, whose performance as Professor Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything has already won him a Golden Globe, is among the early favourites to carry off the gong.
Speaking yesterday, he played down any rivalry with his “old friend” Cumberbatch – who plays wartime codebreaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game – calling him a “lovely, wondrous, human being”.
“We’ve been texting this morning and there have been a lot of exclamation marks of euphoria so there’s definitely no competition there,” he said.
Redmayne said he had stayed up to watch the Oscars as a boy but did “never ever dream I’d get to go”.
As well as Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, Redmayne is up against comic Carell, nominated for a serious acting role in Foxcatcher, American Sniper’s Bradley Cooper and Birdman’s Michael Keaton for the award.
Cumberbatch, also star of BBC TV’s Sherlock, said: “I am knocked for six by this – so excited and honoured to receive this recognition.”
Redmayne’s co-star in The Theory of Everything, Felicity Jones, and Gone Girl Rosamund Pike are both nominated for the leading actress Oscar.
Jones, who played Hawking’s first wife Jane, said she could not watch the nominations because it was “so nerve-wracking”. They face competition from Reese Witherspoon, Julianne Moore and Marion Cotillard.
Keira Knightley, who co-stars in The Imitation Game, is nominated for the best supporting actress award alongside Oscars’ veteran Meryl Streep – who is shortlisted for a 19th time, an Oscars’ record. The other nominees are Patricia Arquette, Laura Dern and Emma Stone.
Another Brit – cinematographer Dick Pope – was nominated for his work on Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner and became an online sensation when Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs pronounced his name “Dick Poop”.
British Film Institute boss Amanda Nevill said: “This year’s Oscar nominations are a cracking result for British film, recognising the sheer brilliance and skill of our talent working both in front of and behind the camera.”
The Imitation Game drew eight nominations – one less than Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel – while Clint Eastwood’s Navy Seal drama American Sniper landed six nods including best actor Cooper. Also with six was Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age epic Boyhood, which is the best picture favourite.
TV and film actor Neil Patrick Harris will host the Oscars in Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on 22 February.
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