Spy film steals the spotlight

From Times wire reports

The socially conscious spy yarn "The Constant Gardener" led the field Thursday in nominations for the British Academy Film Awards.

"Constant Gardener" captured 10 nominations, including one for best picture. The film's stars, Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, received acting nominations, and Fernando Meirelles was nominated for best director.

Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain," which won best drama at the Golden Globe Awards, and "Crash," an edgy depiction of racial division in modern-day Los Angeles, each received nine nominations, including best picture for both movies.

Lee is among the nominees for best director; stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal are up for acting awards.

"Good Night, and Good Luck" -- which has yet to open in Britain -- is nominated in six categories, including best picture, best actor for David Strathairn and best director for George Clooney. "Pride and Prejudice" also received six nominations, including best British film.

"Capote" also received a best picture nomination.

The best actor category includes Fiennes, Strathairn, Ledger, "Capote" star Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix, who portrays Johnny Cash in "Walk the Line."

Best actress nominees are Weisz, Judi Dench for "Mrs. Henderson Presents," Charlize Theron for "North Country," Reese Witherspoon for "Walk the Line" and Ziyi Zhang for "Memoirs of a Geisha."

Best director nominees are Lee, Clooney, Meirelles, Paul Haggis for "Crash" and Bennett Miller for "Capote."

Winners will be announced Feb. 19.

The BAFTAs were moved in 2001 from April to February to fall between the Golden Globes and the Oscars in a bid to capture some Hollywood glitter in the cinema awards season. BAFTA organizers hope Hollywood studios will provide a full house of top stars when the awards are announced, although a BAFTA win is no guarantee of Oscar success.

Last year Clint Eastwood's boxing drama "Million Dollar Baby" swept the board at the Oscars, but failed to score at the BAFTAs after distributors refused to send out copies of the film to voters.

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