Day-Lewis as Lincoln seeks home triumph at BAFTAs
US-BRITAIN-BAFTAS:Day-Lewis as Lincoln seeks home triumph at BAFTAs
By Estelle Shirbon and Clare Hutchison
LONDON (Reuters) - Stilettos sank into a sodden red carpet as stars of the silver screen gathered in cold and rainy London on Sunday for the BAFTAs, with freezing fans hoping Daniel Day-Lewis would warm British hearts with a best actor win for his role in "Lincoln".
Rain turned to snow as the first nominees appeared, but the dreadful weather did not deter fans three rows deep who waited for hours to catch a glimpse of Hollywood A-listers arriving the Royal Opera House in the heart of London.
"I'm cold and really excited. It's a funny combination. It's the first time I'm seeing snowfall," Suraj Sharma, nominated in the rising star category for his role in "Life of Pi", told Reuters.
Steven Spielberg's biopic of President Abraham Lincoln leads the field with 10 nominations, although a sweep of statuettes may not be a foregone conclusion after it was eclipsed by Ben Affleck's "Argo" at several top U.S. awards.
Day-Lewis has won a clutch of trophies already for his turn as Lincoln and seems a safe bet to triumph at home, but in other categories "Argo" could prove stiff competition.
Affleck's drama about the rescue of American hostages from Iran in 1979 has seven BAFTA nominations including for best film. The other contenders for the top honor are "Lincoln", "Les Miserables", "Life of Pi" and "Zero Dark Thirty".
"Very excited. I've not been here (to the BAFTAs). I've not ever been nominated. I've not ever been invited! So it feels very special to me to come here tonight," Affleck said as he arrived.
Ang Lee's "Life of Pi", about a man and a tiger lost at sea, has nine BAFTA nominations including best director for the eclectic Taiwanese veteran.
"Les Miserables", the film version of a global hit stage musical, also has nine BAFTA nominations including best supporting actress for Anne Hathaway.
"To be walking down the red carpet with nine nominations is a huge thrill two years after 'The King's Speech'," the film's director, Tom Hooper, told Reuters, referring to his Oscar-winning hit movie about British King George VI's stammer.
"Les Mis", as it is popularly known in Britain, has been a huge box office hit and fans sang songs from the film at Hugh Jackman, one of its stars, as he walked the red carpet.
The latest James Bond movie, "Skyfall", is nominated in eight categories but despite becoming the most successful film in British box office history did not make the shortlist for best film or director. That was the latest in a long string of awards disappointments for Bond fans over the decades.
"Anna Karenina", an experimental British adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel, is up for six BAFTAs.
Quentin Tarantino's slavery-era Western "Django Unchained" and Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty", a thriller about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, have five nominations apiece.
Tarantino and Bigelow, both heavy hitters among U.S. filmmakers, are both up for the best director award.
They will be up against Austria's Michael Haneke, nominated for "Amour", about an elderly couple struggling to cope with the aftermath of a stroke. The French-language film has four nominations, an unusually high number for a film not in English.
French actress Emanuelle Riva, 85, is nominated for the leading actress BAFTA for her role in "Amour". Her rivals for the award are Helen Mirren in "Hitchcock", Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook", Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty" and Marion Cotillard in "Rust and Bone".
Mirren surprised red carpet fans by appearing with bright pink hair.
"It's in aid of breast cancer. I'm wearing wigs in the theatre as I'm in a play ... so I can do anything I like to my hair," she told Reuters.
The contenders for best actor are Day-Lewis, Affleck in "Argo", Bradley Cooper in "Silver Linings Playbook", Hugh Jackman in "Les Miserables" and Joaquin Phoenix in "The Master".
Versatile British director Alan Parker, whose body of work ranges from musical gangster film "Bugsy Malone" to Turkish-set prison thriller "Midnight Express" and civil rights drama "Mississippi Burning", will receive a BAFTA fellowship.
"It's nice because I'm the only one who knows they are going to win an award," Parker told Reuters on the red carpet.
"Everybody is more nervous than me. It's a sign I'm getting old. Next it's a memorial service."
(Writing by Estelle Shirbon, editing by Paul Casciato)