Sweeping epics Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Gladiator dominated the British Academy Film Awards nominations announced today, with 14 nods each, including one apiece for best film.
Besides the de rigueur nods to Erin Brockovich's Julia Roberts and Cast Away's Tom Hanks, acting noms went to Tiger's Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi and to Gladiator stars Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, and late British actor Oliver Reed.
Crowd-pleasing Billy Elliot earned 13 BAFTA nominations, including ones for best actor (Jamie Bell), most promising newcomer (director Stephen Daldry), best film, and best British film.
The BAFTAs are not given only to British-made pictures; homegrown films can be honored with the Alexander Korda Award for Outstanding British Film. Besides Billy Elliot, contenders for the Korda award this year include Chicken Run, The House of Mirth, The Last Resort, and Sexy Beast.
The BAFTA ceremony, which usually is scheduled after its American counterpart, the Oscars, has been bumped up this year to Feb. 25, a full month before the Academy Awards.
A new eligibility ruling means that Chocolat, Almost Famous, and The Last Resort, none of which are even in theaters yet in the United Kingdom, were able to sneak in as contenders. The eligibility window also means that Hilary Swank is nominated for a BAFTA this year for her role in Boys Don't Cry, the same part that won her an Oscar last year.
Another oddity in the BAFTA noms is that Almost Famous' Kate Hudson is competing in the lead category, not the supporting one, for which she won a Golden Globe.
The nominations were announced today by writer, actor, and comedian Stephen Fry (the star of Wilde), who will host the awards show Feb. 25. The London ceremony will be shown live on satellite channel Sky One.