DiCaprio favoured to win best-actor prize at BAFTAs

LONDON -- Leonardo DiCaprio could add to his accolades for epic endurance story "The Revenant" with a win at the British Academy Film Awards.

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DiCaprio is bookies' favourite to take the best-actor trophy at Sunday's ceremony, considered a portent of success at Hollywood's Feb. 28 Academy Awards. The role of a fur trapper fighting for his life has earned DiCaprio his sixth Oscar nomination -- and, many believe, his best shot at finally winning.

At the British awards, known as BAFTAs, he's up against Matt Damon for "The Martian," Bryan Cranston for "Trumbo," Michael Fassbender for "Steve Jobs" and last year's winner Eddie Redmayne, nominated for playing a transgender artist in "The Danish Girl."

The best-actress category pits Alicia Vikander for "The Danish Girl" against Brie Larson for "Room," Cate Blanchett for "Carol," Maggie Smith for "The Lady in the Van" and Saoirse Ronan for "Brooklyn."

Steven Spielberg's Cold War thriller "Bridge of Spies" and Todd Haynes' lesbian romance "Carol" have nine nominations each for Sunday's prizes. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "The Revenant" has eight, while George Miller's dystopian thrill ride "Mad Max: Fury Road" has seven.

Stars expected on the red carpet at London's Royal Opera House include Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Mark Ruffalo and Kate Winslet.

A group called Creatives of Colour Network says it plans to protest outside the ceremony against a lack of racial diversity in show business.

The movie awards season has been dominated by debate about why the film industry remains dominated by white men. All the acting nominees for the Oscars both this year and last have been white.

The head of the British film academy said she supported Sunday's protesters.

"Our industry isn't diverse enough, so the pool of people to draw award winners from isn't diverse enough," chief executive Amanda Berry told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Like Hollywood's Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the British film academy says it will work to make sure its 6,500 voting members become a more diverse group.

Two black actors are up for BAFTAs -- Idris Elba in the supporting actor group for "Beasts of No Nation" and "Star Wars" performer John Boyega in the rising star category.

Pioneering black American actor Sidney Poitier is due to receive a lifetime achievement award at the BAFTAs.


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