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Blanchett’s BAFTA?

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Australian actress Cate Blanchett is the early favourite to win best actress at the British Academy Film Awards, Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars.

In a boost to her Academy Awards hopes, Blanchett on Wednesday earned a BAFTA nomination for her performance as a rich Manhattan socialite in Woody Allen’s tragic comedy Blue Jasmine.

Space thriller Gravity, unflinching slavery saga 12 Years a Slave and crime caper American Hustle dominated the nominations announcement.

Gravity received nominations in 11 categories, including best picture and lead actress, for Sandra Bullock.

Blanchett faces stiff competition from Bullock but has been installed as favourite by British bookmakers to win her second BAFTA for best actress.

The Australian, who won best actress for Elizabeth in 2008, is also up against Amy Adams (American Hustle), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks) and Judi Dench (Philomena).

Blue Jasmine was also nominated for two other British film awards – best original screenplay and best supporting actress for Sally Hawkins.

12 Years had 10 nominations, including nods for star Chiwetel Ejiofor and director Steve McQueen.

“I continue to be immensely proud of the recognition this film is getting around the world,” said British actor Ejiofor, who plays a free black man kidnapped into slavery in the 19th-century United States.

“There is, of course, something particularly special about receiving a BAFTA nomination from home.”

American Hustle also was nominated in 10 categories, while Somali hijacking story Captain Phillips received nine nods.

The nominations build some awards-season momentum behind several films, especially Gravity, an astonishing 3D technical achievement, and the wrenching 12 Years a Slave.

The best-picture nominees are: 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, and Philomena, the story of an Irishwoman in search of the son she lost decades earlier.

Other acting nominees include Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street.

The BAFTAS will be awarded at London’s Royal Opera House on February 16.

They are considered an indicator of likely success at Hollywood’s Academy Awards two weeks later.

Last year, Iran hostage drama Argo took the BAFTA for best film and the best-picture Oscar.

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