A DARK fantasy about a mute laboratory worker who falls in love with a captured amphibian creature has dominated the nominations for next month’s Bafta Film Awards, which were unveiled yesterday alongside the ceremony’s new host, Joanna Lumley.
The Shape of Water, an American production directed and co-written by Guillermo del Toro and starring the London actress Sally Hawkins, is shortlisted for 12 awards including best film.
Dunkirk, Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri are also in the running for best film, with God’s Own Country, an independently-made love story set on a Yorkshire sheep farm, nominated for outstanding British movie. Its star, Josh O’Connor, was shortlisted last week for Bafta’s Rising Star Award.
Gary Oldman, who won the best actor Golden Globe earlier this week for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, will compete with fellow British stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Daniel Kaluuya and Jamie Bell for Bafta’s best actor award, with Hugh Grant among the nominees for best supporting actor in Paddington 2.
He will go up against Christopher Plummer in All The Money In The World, a film in which he replaced Kevin Spacey in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against him.
Miss Lumley said she expected the climate of sexual harassment in the film industry to be reflected in many of the acceptance speeches.
“I think a lot of people will be wanting to say something about it, but I want to keep very much in our minds that the whole thing is the celebration of film,” she said.
“My hosting is to say to everybody: ‘You’re free to come up and say what you want, do what you want, wear what you want, be what you want.’”
Miss Lumley is replacing Stephen Fry as host of the awards, which will be presented at the Royal Albert Hall. The last solo female host was the comedian Ruby Wax in 1996.
But the breakout star of the night may yet be the 23-year-old Irishwoman Saoirse Ronan, who won the Golden Globe for her performance in the comedy Lady Bird, and who is nominated for the best actress Bafta.
Miss Hawkins is the only British actress in the category, for which Annette Bening, Frances McDormand and Margot Robbie are also nominated.
Bafta’s decision to have an all-male shortlist for best director means Kathryn Bigelow will remain the only woman to have won the award.
The American filmmaker took the award in 2010 for the Iraq War drama, The Hurt Locker.