Denis Villeneuve’s Canadian Dune team leads BAFTA nominations

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Movie trailer: Dune
Science fiction film "Dune" will see Oscar Issac become steward of the dangerous planet Arrakis, also known as Dune, the only source of the most valuable substance in the universe, "the spice." – Sep 9, 2020

Sci-fi epic Dune and Jane Campion’s dark Western The Power Of The Dog lead the nominations for this year’s British Academy Film Awards, with Benedict Cumberbatch, Leonardo DiCaprio and Lady Gaga among those up for leading actor awards.

Denis Villeneuve and his Canadian collaborators behind Dune received several nods, with the Québécois filmmaker named in the best film and adapted screenplay categories.

Two of the director’s longtime Montreal-born collaborators were also recognized with Patrice Vermette among the production design nominees for Dune, and Donald Mowat contending for best makeup and hair.

Read more: ‘Dune’ trailer: Timothée Chalamet is in a strange new world

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The blockbuster saga, starring Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya, received eleven nominations in total, including cinematography and original score. The Power of the Dog, set in 1920s Montana and starring Cumberbatch as a ranch owner, follows close behind with eight nominations, including best director and best film.

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Ghostbusters: Afterlife gave Vancouver visual effects supervisor Aharon Bourland her first BAFTA nomination in the special visual effects category.

Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical Belfast, which tells of a childhood in Northern Ireland during the bloody conflict known as The Troubles, was also nominated for best film and five other categories.

Branagh did not make it onto the best director list, but he said Thursday that the nominations were “an amazing tribute to a remarkable part of the world.” He said: “We are humbly and delightfully gobsmacked!”

Click to play video: 'Denis Villeneuve appointed to Order of Canada'
Denis Villeneuve appointed to Order of Canada

The other two contenders for best film are Don’t Look Up, the disaster comedy starring DiCaprio, and coming-of-age drama Licorice Pizza.

DiCaprio and Cumberbatch are among those nominated in the leading actor category, along with Will Smith, who received his first BAFTA nomination for his role as the father of Serena and Venus Williams in King Richard.

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Cumberbatch said he was “deeply humbled and grateful.”

“The journey to play Phil Burbank took me a long way from anything familiar to me and this recognition of that work feels like completing the circle and coming home,” he said in a statement.

READ MORE: Denis Villeneuve admits editing ‘Dune’ from home has been ‘painful’

The leading actress list included Lady Gaga for House of Gucci, Alana Haim for Licorice Pizza and Emilia Jones for Coda.

Daniel Craig’s last James Bond film, No Time to Die, and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story both received five nominations.

The awards organizers say they are committed to supporting new talent, and this year all the performers in the supporting actor category are first-time nominees. They include Woody Norman for C’mon C’mon, who at just 11 years old is the youngest nominee of the year, and Ariana DeBose, who plays Anita in West Side Story.

“It’s really humbling, and I’m honored and just blown away,” DeBose told The Associated Press.

In keeping with recent years, most acting nominations have gone to non-British performers.

The annual film awards celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, and winners will be announced during a ceremony hosted by Rebel Wilson at the Royal Albert Hall in London on March 13.

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Last year’s ceremony was mostly carried out online, with just the hosts and presenters appearing in person.

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