OSCAR weekend opened with torrential rain in Los Angeles yesterday but the great and the good of the UK film industry are hoping the ceremony is anything but a washout.
British hopes for tonight’s ceremony largely lie with Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave, which picked up nine nominations including best film, best actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor and best director.
The film, based on the true story of a free New Yorker kidnapped and sold into slavery, faces the force of Gravity and competition from crime caper American Hustle at this year’s bash, which will be hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.
Both films lead the pack with ten nominations each, including nods for Sandra Bullock and Amy Adams respectively for the best actress Oscar.
They face competition from Dame Judi Dench, who is nominated for the title role in Philomena. The film, based on the true story of a woman’s search for the son she was forced to give up for adoption in 1950s Ireland, is also shortlisted for best picture, and Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope are nominated for best adapted screenplay.
The best actress shortlist is completed by Cate Blanchett, the star of Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, and Meryl Streep for August: Osage County.
Ejiofor faces competition for the best actor statuette from Christian Bale for American Hustle, veteran Bruce Dern for Nebraska, The Wolf Of Wall Street’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club.
Irish rockers U2 are nominated for best original song for Ordinary Love from Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, but its star Idris Elba missed out on a nomination.
There is also recognition for Sally Hawkins, who was nominated for best supporting actress for Blue Jasmine.
She is nominated alongside Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County) and June Squibb (Nebraska).
Another of 12 Years A Slave’s stars, Michael Fassbender, is nominated for best supporting actor, along with Barkhad Abdi from modern-day pirate drama Captain Phillips, Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Jonah Hill (The Wolf Of Wall Street) and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club).
McQueen’s best director nomination puts him up against Martin Scorsese for The Wolf Of Wall Street, American Hustle’s David O Russell, Gravity’s Alfonso Cuaron and Alexander Payne for Nebraska.
There are nine contenders for best film, with American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and Philomena all nominated.
Spike Jonze’s film Her, Nebraska and The Wolf Of Wall Street complete the shortlist.
Amanda Nevill, from the British Film Institute, said the nominations put the “UK’s vibrant and thriving film industry firmly in the international spotlight”.