The film, starring Tilda Swinton and directed by Lynne Ramsay, is a showcase for the talents of Scotland’s leading actress and director.
It has been particularly praised for its camera work, by Seamus McGarvey, the leading cinematographer who, with Swinton, is a patron of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
But it faces strong competition for best picture, with the contenders including The Iron Lady and My Week With Marilyn. The latter, which centres on Marilyn Monroe’s time in the UK, is joint leader with 16 nominations.
The stars, Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams, take on Swinton for the best actress award.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a film laden with British talent and based on the landmark novel by John le Carre, also has 16 nominations after the first round of voting in this year’s awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
But the Scottish vote is certain to go to We Need To Talk About Kevin.
“I think it will make the shortlist,” said Leslie Hills, chair of the Centre for the Moving Image in Edinburgh. “The cinematography was superb, really fantastic. Tilda’s performance was astonishing, it was the best performance of anything I’ve seen in a very long time, she just inhabited that role.
“It was a very fine piece of work on every level.”
Another Scot in the running is Peter Mullan, nominated for best actor for his part as a foul-mouthed drunk in Tyrannosaur.
“Sadly, Tyrannosaur was shunned by audiences because of its violent subject matter, even if the critics generally supported it,” said critic and French Film Festival director Richard Mowe.
Tyrannosaur is also in the running for best British film. But Mullan faces stiff competition from the likes of Ryan Gosling, Gary Oldman and Leonardo Di Caprio, he noted.
Mowe said it was heartening to see Ramsay’s talent back on track after a hiatus that followed films such as Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar.
Swinton faces competition from Oscars favourite Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, as well as Jodie Foster, Charlize Theron and Carey Mulligan.
The Bafta longlist includes 15 entries in most categories, chosen in the first round of voting, from 285 films. With voting by more than 6300 members of the academy in three rounds, they face a long road to the awards itself.
The five nominees are chosen from the longlists in the second round of voting, which began today, with the shortlist to be announced on 17 January. The awards ceremony, hosted by Stephen Fry, takes place on 12 February.
The Iron Lady, with Streep playing Margaret Thatcher, earned 14 mentions. The Artist, the silent film emerging as a Hollywood favourite, had 13, along with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Midnight in Paris and War Horse.
Mullan missed out on best supporting actor for War Horse, but it has been a showcase year for the Scots actor and director. He plays the father of the main character in the film.
The Help and Hugo scored 12 places, while Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 earned 11.
However, film buffs were closely watching the favourites among the nominees for Bafta’s specialist voting chapters, who will settle the final choices.
Among them it is The Artist, which has charmed audiences with its homage to the days of silent film. It earned ten chapter picks, followed by Hugo with nine and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, with eight.
The Artist topped the nominations in the Golden Globes, traditionally seen as a pointer to the Oscars.