'Brooklyn' named best British movie at BAFTA film awards

LONDON -- Irish emigrant saga "Brooklyn" was named best British picture Sunday at the British Academy Film Awards, where Leonardo DiCaprio is favoured to take the best actor trophy for epic endurance story "The Revenant.

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The British awards, known as BAFTAs, are 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.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "The Revenant" has eight BAFTA nominations, and took an early prize for Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography.

Supporting performer prizes went to Mark Rylance, a soft-spoken Soviet agent "Bridge of Spies," and Kate Winslet, an Apple executive in "Steve Jobs."

"It has been an extraordinary year for women," said Winslet, who beat Alicia Vikander, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julie Walters and Rooney Mara for the prize.

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

The best-picture nominees are "Bridge of Spies," "Carol," "The Revenant," "Spotlight" and "The Big Short."

DiCaprio is up for best actor against Matt Damon for "The Martian," Bryan Cranston for "Trumbo," 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," Blanchett for "Carol," Maggie Smith for "The Lady in the Van" and Ronan for "Brooklyn."

Hundreds of fans gathered to watch the stars arrive at the Royal Opera House on a cool, crisp London winter evening. Among the arrivals were nominees DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Fassbender, Cate Blanchett, Saoirse Ronan, Kate Winslet, Steven Spielberg and "Star Wars" action hero John Boyega.

A group called Creatives of Colour Network organized a protest beside the red carpet against a lack of racial diversity in show business. Demonstrators rallied under the hashtag .baftablackout, and distributed leaflets declaring the awards "male, pale and stale."

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 BAFTAs are slightly more diverse, with two black actors nominated -- Idris Elba in the supporting actor group for "Beasts of No Nation" and Boyega, the favourite in the rising star category.

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.

On the red carpet, Boyega said he was glad the issue was being aired.

"I just think a larger conversation is being had and I think that's a very, very positive thing," he said.

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



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