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BAFTAs boost hopes of Oscars for 'Avatar,' 'An Education' and 'The Hurt Locker'

January 22, 2010 |  1:42 pm

_39882765_bafta_203pa Two of the front-runners at this year's Oscars -- "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" as well as home-grown favorite "An Education" -- lead the pack at the BAFTAs with eight nominations each, including best picture nods. Another two of the top Oscar contenders -- "Up in the Air" and "Precious" -- fared less well, though they count best picture nods among their six and four BAFTA bids, respectively.

Another favorite at the Oscars -- "Inglorious Basterds" -- also earned six BAFTA nominations, including directing and screenplay nods for Quentin Tarantino, but was bumped from the best picture race. Among the other Oscar hopefuls, "District 9" landed seven nominations, including directing and screenplay bids while "Star Trek" earned just two tech nods. "Up" contends in four categories, including animated film and original screenplay. That latter category is also where "The Hangover" and "A Serious Man" each earned their only BAFTA bids. "Nine" was nominated only for hair and makeup while "Invictus" was shut out.

Though the BAFTA laurels have foreseen only three best-picture Oscar winners -- Gladiator" (2000), "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003) and "Slumdog Millionaire" (2008) -- since these kudos were moved up in 2000 to take place while academy members are still voting, they do far better at predicting the acting awards. Last year, three of the four BAFTA winners repeated at the Academy Awards -- Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler") was the exception -- while in both 2007 and 2006 all four BAFTA champs went on to win Oscars.

Best actress nominee Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia") has only one win -- best actress in 1982 for "The French Lieutenant's Woman" -- to show for her previous 12 nominations. One of her main Oscar rivals -- Sandra Bullock -- was not eligible at the BAFTAs as "The Blind Side" had yet to be released across the pond. Saorise Ronan ("The Lovely Bones") and Audrey Tautou ("Coco Avant Chanel") are both past one-time nominees while Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and Gabby Sidibe ("Precious") are newcomers.

Among the leading men, George Clooney ("Up in the Air") leads with three previous acting bids while Colin Firth ("A Single Man") has one previous film nod. Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart"), Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker") and Andy Serkis ("Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll") are all first-time film nominees.

Alfred Molina ("An Education") is the only previous BAFTA contender in the supporting actor race while Kristin Scott Thomas -- with three previous BAFTA bids -- is the only vet in the supporting actress race.

Photo: BAFTA statues. Credit: BAFTA

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