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Brokeback scores nine BAFTA nods

Brokeback scores nine BAFTA nods

The Constant Gardener flew the flag for Britain when the British Academy of Film and Television nominations were announced on Thursday, but George Clooney could be the big winner when the U.K. film industry hands out its top awards next month. The political thriller based on the John le Carre novel was the only British entry in a Hollywood-dominated short list for Best Film. Its stars, Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, were up for top acting honors among the 10 it garnered in total.

Clooney will be competing against himself when the awards are announced on February 19. He was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Syriana and Good Night, and Good Luck. He is also vying for a BAFTA for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Good Night, and Good Luck, which is about broadcaster Edward R. Murrow battling America's anti-Communist witch hunt in the 1950s. "What a versatile man he is. I hope George is sitting in the room when the winners are announced," said British Academy chairman Duncan Kenworthy.

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 buildup. 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.

The big blockbusters of 2005--Harry Potter, Narnia, and King Kong--surprisingly failed to feature in the major BAFTA nominations. Gay Western romance Brokeback Mountain scooped nine nominations with its stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal honored along with director Ang Lee. All are hot favorites to land Oscars. Crash, which explores race and class among Americans, also garnered nine nominations, including Best Picture. (Paul Majendie, Reuters)

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