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BAFTA nominations 2018: The Shape of Water and Three Billboards dominate

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Having triumphed at the Golden Globes, the critically acclaimed Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is now neck and neck with Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water at this year's BAFTA nominations. Here's your breakdown of all the movies in the running.

The front-runners

Having grabbed four Golden Globes including Best Picture (Drama) and Best Actress for Frances McDormand, Three Billboards looks set to repeat its success at the BAFTAs. Martin McDonagh's savage black comedy about a bereaved mother taking on her local police force has received nine BAFTA noms. These include Best Film, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and a duo of Best Supporting Actor nods for Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson.



However leading the charge with the most number of nominations is sumptuous fantasy-romance The Shape of Water. Guillermo del Toro's tender and funny fairy tale about the relationship between a mute woman and an aquatic creature has amassed an impressive 12 nominations. These include Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress (for Sally Hawkins), Best Original Screenplay and Best Original Score (for Alexandre Desplat, who was one of the Globe recipients).



Success at the Globes is possibly indicative of yet more triumphs to come, so consider these as the leaders of the pack. Another strong contender is Winston Churchill biopic Darkest Hour, which has nine nominations including Best Film and Best British Film. Gary Oldman lands a BAFTA Best Actor nod for his sensational turn as Churchill – in addition to his Golden Globe win this is a sure sign he's being positioned as the front-runner in the forthcoming Oscar race. 


There was also a pleasingly strong showing for Blade Runner 2049, largely ignored at the Globes. Denis Villeneuve's acclaimed science fiction sequel landed eight nominations including Best Director for Villeneuve and Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins. Given the movie's science fiction pedigree it leads in technical categories including Best Special Effects and Best Production Design (Dennis Gassner). Disappointingly there's no recognition for Best Film, which can either be attributed to the strength of the competition or awards snobbery towards this particular genre.



And rounding out the main competition in terms of nominations is Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. The director's immersive and overwhelming World War II drama is that rare movie that resulted in box office gold and critical acclaim. To that end it's scored nods for Best Film and Best Director, and the movie's impeccable technical credentials have also seen it nominated for Best Cinematography (Hoyte van Hoytema), Best Editing (Lee Smith) and more.


All in all it's one of the most diverse BAFTA line-ups in many years, favouring challenging and provocative cinema: the angry tone of Three Billboards is just one example of how this year's awards have voted in favour of spikier, more provocative material. Then there's The Shape of Water – who expected an inter-species romance to have led this year's nominations?

That said the absence of women directors from the line-up is surprising, particularly in the wake of Oprah Winfrey's Golden Globes speech that briefly sparked talk of a presidential run. A missed opportunity by BAFTA?

The surprises

Paddington 2 got a look-in with three nominations: Best British Film, Best Supporting Actor (for Hugh Grant's brilliantly funny turn as villain Phoenix Buchanan) and Best Adapted Screenplay. It's delightful to see recognition for one of 2017's most endearing family hits, especially after it was passed over at the Golden Globes. The sheer popularity of the movie (£41 million at the UK box office) stands it in good stead as far as winning Best British Film is concerned.



Another pleasing inclusion is British favourite Jamie Bell, nominated for Best Actor for Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool. It marks Bell's first recognition from BAFTA since he infamously swiped Best Actor from beneath Russell Crowe's nose back in 2000 for Billy Elliot. The actor puts in a heartfelt and believable performance as the lover of faded movie star Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening) in the movie, although he's unlikely to topple Gary Oldman as far as the award is concerned.



Meanwhile it's terrific to see Octavia Spencer being recognised for Best Supporting Actress in The Shape of Water. Her sparky character Zelda is one of the movie's most memorable, playing off Sally Hawkins' mute Elisa in ways that are hilarious and emotional. However, this particular category is a strong one this year, with Darkest Hour's Kristin Scott Thomas, Lady Bird's Laurie Metcalf and Phantom Thread's Lesley Manville also getting nods.


The race for Best British Film

All of the films in contention for this coveted prize generated significant levels of critical and popular acclaim: Paddington 2, Lady Macbeth, God's Own Country and The Death of Stalin are all vying for the trophy. From family-friendly magic to darkly comic Stalinist satire – the sheer diversity of year's crop proves outright that 2017 was an exceptional year for British cinema.


The remaining nominees

The critically lauded romantic drama Call Me By Your Name continues its strong showing on the awards circuit with a nod for Best Film, although given it was passed over at the Golden Globes its chances may have slipped in favour of The Shape of Water and Three Billboards. Still, quantity is no surefire measure of success, and Call Me By Your Name could still pull a surprise victory out of the bag.



Other noteworthy nominees include Britain's very own Daniel Kaluuya, recognised in the EE Rising Star category for his charismatic turn in horror sensation Get Out. Given the hot button topicality of Jordan Peele's hit movie (one of the most financially successful horror films of all time), consider him the favourite in a strong category that also includes Call Me By Your Name's Timothee Chalamet, Thor: Ragnarok's Tessa Thompson, Lady Macbeth's Florence Pugh and God's Own Country's Josh O'Connor.



Elsewhere Willem Dafoe lands Best Supporting Actor recognition for his compassionate performance in director Sean Baker's lauded The Florida Project, as does Kevin Spacey replacement Christopher Plummer for All the Money in the World. Ice skating biopic I, Tonya, centering on disgraced former figure skater Tonya Harding, also does well in the acting categories with Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress nominations for Margot Robbie and Golden Globe winner Allison Janney, respectively.


The snubs

We mentioned that this year's Best Film lineup is a pleasingly diverse one, so it's all the more disheartening that critical and audience favourite Get Out was overlooked aside from the Rising Star award. The movie's blend of intelligent topicality and creepy thrills should have seen it as a frontrunner, but the movie's reputation is surely set to outlast any awards ceremony.



No movie was perhaps given harsher treatment than Steven Spielberg's The Post. An impassioned defence of a free press in the guise of a drama about the publishing of the Pentagon Papers, it's been completely shut out of the BAFTAs. Neither Spielberg nor his stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks got a look-in – it's another indicator that this year's voters have maybe thought outside the box as far as nominations are concerned.


Greta Gerwig's directorial debut Lady Bird meanwhile is a surprise omission from the Best Film list given its formidable critical credentials (99% on Rotten Tomatoes), although it did land a Best Actress nod for Saoirse Ronan.



What's your response to this year's BAFTA nominations? Let us know @Cineworld. Hosted by Joanna Lumley, who replaces Stephen Fry, this year's ceremony gets underway on this Sunday at London's Royal Albert Hall.