Fifteenfilms have been selected to go through to BAFTA's second round of voting forthe best film category - including four British pictures and threeforeign-language titles.
It takes three rounds of voting for BAFTA members tomake their final choice of winning films. The first round, which closed onTuesday night (Jan 4), has whittled down all qualifying films to shortlists offifteen in each category. The second round of voting is now open and closes at6pm on Jan 12 to produce the official nominations which are announced on Jan17.
TheBritish films making the selection are Vera Drake, Closer, FindingNeverland and Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban. The foreigntitles selected comprise The Motorcycle Diaries, House Of Flying Daggersand Bad Education. The other fifteen features qualifying for bestpicture are Fahrenheit 9/11, The Incredibles, Shrek 2,The Aviator, Collateral, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Ray and Sideways.
FocusFeatures' Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind was not forgottendespite playing the UK cinema circuit through Momentum Pictures back inApril/May last year. The film was shortlisted in every category for which itwas eligible including five of its actors: Jim Carrey (best actor), KateWinslet (best actress), Tom Wilkinson and Mark Ruffalo (both best supportingactor) and Kirsten Dunst (best supporting actress). The BAFTA awards proved goodfor the Focus/Momentum partnership last year when Lost In Translationpicked up three awards including best actor and actress.
NotablyEternal Sunshine was one of many screener DVDs sent to members thisyear. Indeed, of the 15 titles shortlisted for best picture and best director (KillBill Vol. 2 takes Shrek 2's place as the only difference on thedirector list) all but two (Sideways and The Incredibles) weretitles sent out as screeners.
Absentfrom the picture/director categories were Clint Eastwood's Million DollarBaby and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's A Very Long Engagement. SimilarlyKevin Bacon's critically-lauded performance in The Woodsman wasoverlooked. None of these three had screener copies sent out. Million DollarBaby did see best actress (Hilary Swank), supporting actor (Morgan Freeman)and adapted screenplay shortlistings. A Very Long Engagement joins it inthe shortlist for adapted screenplay and adds cinematography and non-Englishlanguage film nods.
Surprisesselections which were perhaps boosted by screeners included the three foreignlanguage films in the best picture category which were all sent out by Pathe.In the acting categories surprise shortlisted contenders included last year'sbest actor BAFTA winner Bill Murray for his performance in The Life AquaticWith Steve Zissou, as well as Ziyi Zhang (House Of Flying Daggers)and Paz Vega (Spanglish).
Elsewhere,last year's Oscar winning best actress Charlize Theron was shortlisted for Monster.The film was released in the UK too late for last year's BAFTA qualifying.
Britishtalent as always proved popular with voters, accounting for three shortlistedbest actors, four actresses, six supporting actors and four supportingactresses. In the past five years eight acting awards have gone to Britishactors at the BAFTA film awards ceremony.
Severalactors earned multiple nominations:Kate Winslet (best actress for both Eternal Sunshine and FindingNeverland), Daniel Craig (best actor for both Enduring Love and LayerCake) Gael Garcia Bernal (best actor for Bad Education and TheMotorcycle Diaries), Natalie Portman (best actress for Garden State,best supporting actress for Closer) and Jamie Foxx (best actor for Ray,best supporting actor for Collateral). Of these films, only GardenState was not sent out as a screener to members.
TheBAFTA film awards ceremony will take place on Saturday February 12.