'Joker' leads the pack at Bafta awards
The hit film "Joker" leads the nominations for Sunday's Bafta awards but "1917" is hotly tipped for best film at the last major prize ceremony before the Oscars.
Hollywood stars will pack the Royal Albert Hall in London for the glitzy bash, where Joaquin Phoenix and Renee Zellweger are tipped to scoop the main acting awards.
The psychological thriller "Joker", with Phoenix in the Batman villain title role, leads the way with 11 nominations, followed by crime flick "The Irishman" and comedy-drama "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood".
However, Sam Mendes' World War I epic "1917", which has nine nominations, is the favourite to win the best film and best director categories.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts' 73rd annual movie awards could indicate which way the Oscars might go in Los Angeles on February 9.
Last year, Bafta gave the best acting prizes to Rami Malek and Olivia Colman; Alfonso Cuaron won best director, and Mahershala Ali won best supporting actor -- honours all replicated at the Academy Awards.
- Diversity row -
This year's Baftas have faced some criticism for lacking ethnic diversity among the acting categories' nominees, all 18 of whom are white.
Andrew Onwubolu, known as Rapman, the director of the critically acclaimed gang drama "Blue Story", said "the lack of black faces is ridiculous".
Fellow director Nadia Latif called the nominations "beyond a joke", saying: "This industry does not welcome or want us and does not think we are good enough."
The British academy said it would review its voting system in time for next year's awards.
The winners and nominees in most categories are voted for by the 6,500 members, who are industry professionals and creatives from around the world.
In previous years, senior Bafta figures said the awards could only reflect the cinema industry's output.
"It's infuriating. We can't make the industry do something; all we can do is encourage," said Bafta film committee chairman Marc Samuelson.
- Top five -
At this year's British event, the same five movies fill the best film and best director nominations.
Joining "1917" and Mendes are "Joker" (Todd Phillips); South Korean comedy thriller "Parasite" (Bong Joon-ho); "The Irishman" (Martin Scorsese), and "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" by Quentin Tarantino.
In the best actor category, Phoenix is up against Leonardo DiCaprio ("Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"), Adam Driver ("Marriage Story"), Taron Egerton ("Rocketman") and Jonathan Pryce ("The Two Popes").
The best actress nominees are Zellweger for her turn as Judy Garland in "Judy", Scarlett Johansson ("Marriage Story"), Saoirse Ronan ("Little Women") and Charlize Theron ("Bombshell").
Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Brad Pitt are vying for the best supporting actor BAFTA.
The best supporting actress gong will be disputed between Johansson for the six-times nominated "Jojo Rabbit", Laura Dern, Florence Pugh and Margot Robbie.
- Kennedy, Serkis honoured -
The ceremony will be hosted by TV chat show presenter Graham Norton. Prince William and his wife Kate are due to add some royal glamour in his 10th year as Bafta president.
The prince is due to present the Academy Fellowship, its highest accolade, to American producer Kathleen Kennedy, the boss of Lucasfilm.
She has been behind some of the biggest-grossing movies ever, including the Star Wars sequels, "Jurassic Park", "E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial" and the "Back to the Future" trilogy.
Previous fellowship recipients include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg and Anthony Hopkins.
Meanwhile, Andy Serkis will receive the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award for his pioneering motion-capture acting for computer-generated characters.
The 55-year-old's roles include Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Caesar in the "Planet of the Apes" reboot, the titular gorilla in "King Kong" and Supreme Leader Snoke in two "Star Wars" sequels.
The bronze Bafta trophy is based on the tragicomic mask of ancient Greek theatre. Around 280 are hand-made each year at the New Pro Foundries in west London.
Patrick Helly, who has made them since 1978, said some get returned for repairs.