As the guestlist for Sunday's Baftas is revealed, some argue British film is not getting enough of a voice
Anticipation is building ahead of the Baftas on Sunday night, after the starry guestlist of attendees was revealed to include Hollywood names like Leonardo DiCaprio, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock alongside British talent including Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, and Emma Thompson.
Steve McQueen, director of the much-admired 12 Years A Slave will attend along with his stars Chiwitel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch. A major rival on the night is American Hustle, matching Slave's 10 nominations, and its stars Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale and Amy Adams will also be there. Martin Scorsese, who directed DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, named yesterday as his most financially successful film, is also confirmed.
They're added to the previously announced Prince William, who will present the night's most prestigious award, the Academy Fellowship, to Helen Mirren. She played his grandmother in 2006's The Queen, and won an Oscar for her performance.
Tinie Tempah and Laura Mvula will open the ceremony at the Royal Opera House with a duet of their track Heroes, which appears on the former's new album Demonstration.
Ejiofor and Coogan were amongst those who talked up the awards last weekend at a Bafta event in Los Angeles, with Ejiofor calling it an "integral part of the British film community" and Coogan praising its "prestige" and "extraordinary legacy". But there has been some criticism of a perceived American bias to the awards, with TV writer and critic (and sometime Guardian scribe) Andrew Collins calling British films "cruelly ignored" by the awards.
"Aside from two protectionist categories that ringfence homegrown talent - Outstanding British Film and Outstanding British Debut - our best must battle it out against the vast budgets and promotional might of the Hollywood dream factory," he writes in the Radio Times. "The studios may hammer out multimillion-dollar comic-book franchise blockbusters for 11 months of the year, but, just in time for prizegiving season, they aggressively market 'awards bait' pictures with no less industrial precision."
He highlights Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Trance and Le Week-end as being overlooked, and gives particular attention to Ben Wheatley's A Field In England. "That, to me, is the kind of film Bafta should be all about: inventive, personal, difficult, sonically arresting, English to its very core and a credit to the nation." The British production Gravity leads the nominations with 11 nods, but films with US talent and flavour, including Saving Mr Banks, Rush and Gravity, find a place in the Outstanding British Film category.
The ceremony, hosted as ever by Stephen Fry, will be shown on BBC One from 9-11pm on Sunday evening.
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