Bafta chair Krishnendu Majumdar has said he wanted to “level the playing field” at the awards nominations this year by shining a “spotlight” on a range of British films.
Sci-fi epic Dune, The Power Of The Dog and Belfast lead the nominations for this year’s Bafta film awards.
Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve and based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, featured a star-studded ensemble cast including Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson and Oscar Isaac, and received the most nominations overall with 11, including original score, casting, cinematography and best film.
New Zealand director Jane Campion’s dark western, The Power Of The Dog, received eight nominations, among them best director for her, best film, and three nominations across the acting categories.
Sir Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical film Belfast, starring Jude Hill, Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe and which focuses on the Troubles in Northern Ireland, has six nominations, among them best film.
Majumdar has said “you couldn’t get three more different films” leading the pack of nominations.
Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “I think that shows a real appetite for different types of stories.
“I think the key thing we were trying to do as an academy was to make sure our members watched as many films as possible, trying to level the playing field, that different films had the opportunity to be seen and therefore the chance to be nominated.
“This year we have 48 different movies nominated which is brilliant, Bafta is shining a spotlight on British films, British independent movies and big blockbusters as well.
“You have After Love, Aleem Khan’s British independent movie, with four nominations and then you have something like James Bond: No Time To Die that has five nominations as well.
“Each year is different, I just love the fact there is a range of different stories, people want to hear different voices.”
Co-chair Sara Putt told PA that this year is a “celebration of new talent”.
She added: “19 out of the 24 performance categories are first-time nominees which is really exciting.
“To see that journey and progression of new talent is just fabulous. I think it’s opened it up, and that’s what we wanted to do, we wanted to level the playing field.”
This year the annual film awards celebrates their 75th anniversary and will see Australian actress and comedian Rebel Wilson host the ceremony being held at London’s Royal Albert Hall on March 13.
Majumdar told PA that he is “incredibly excited” to have Wilson take up hosting duties, having “brought the house down and stolen the show” at previous ceremonies.
On Thursday, the Bafta film nominations were announced by AJ Odudu and Tom Allen from Bafta’s London headquarters.
Benedict Cumberbatch, who stars as gritty rancher Phil in The Power Of The Dog, is nominated in the leading actor category, with his co-stars Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee both nominated in the supporting actor category.
Other supporting actor nominees include West Side Story’s Mike Faist, Belfast’s Ciaran Hinds, Troy Kotsur for Coda and 11-year-old Woody Norman for C’mon C’mon, making him this year’s youngest nominee.
Hollywood star Will Smith is among the first time nominees in the performance categories this year, with a leading actor nomination for his role in King Richard, in which he stars as the father of tennis champions Serena and Venus Williams.
Also nominated in the leading actor category alongside him and Cumberbatch are Mahershala Ali for Swan Song, Adeel Akhtar for Ali & Ava, Leonardo DiCaprio for Don’t Look Up and Stephen Graham for Boiling Point.
Actress Caitriona Balfe is nominated in the supporting actress category for her role in Belfast, alongside Jessie Buckley for The Lost Daughter, Ariana DeBose for West Side Story, Ann Dowd for Mass, Aunjanue Ellis for King Richard and Ruth Negga for Passing.
Nominees in the leading actress category include Lady Gaga for House Of Gucci, Alana Haim for Licorice Pizza, Emilia Jones for Coda, Renate Reinsve for The Worst Person In The World, Joanna Scanlan for After Love and Tessa Thompson for Passing.
Elsewhere, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, the latest Bond instalment No Time To Die and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story all have five nominations.
The 2021 ceremony, hosted by Dermot O’Leary and Edith Bowman, was a largely virtual ceremony broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall, with only the hosts and presenters appearing in person.