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The BBC's Stephanie West
"Bafta is making no secret that it is out for more attention this year"
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Bafta chairman Simon Relph speaks to BBC News Online
"British films are represented in all the major categories"
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Wednesday, 31 January, 2001, 12:04 GMT
Tiger fights Gladiator in Bafta race
Gladiator ties with Crouching Tiger with 14 nominations
Martial arts drama Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Roman epic Gladiator lead the Bafta film awards shortlist, both with 14 nominations.

Crouching Tiger, directed by Ang Lee, is up for best film while star Michelle Yeoh is nominated for the best actress award. Lee is nominated for best director.

It is highly unusual for a foreign language film to receive so many nominations.

Bafta nominations
Crouching Tiger: 14
Gladiator: 14
Billy Elliot: 11
Chocolat: 8
Gladiator is also up for best film, as well as best actor for Russell Crowe. Oliver Reed is given a posthumous nomination for his supporting role.

Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell is nominated for his second major prize in two days, as the 14-year-old follows up his best actor nod at the Screen Actors Guild nominations with a Bafta nomination in the same category.

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His movie - which has done the best of the British films released last year - is also nominated for best film, alongside Crouching Tiger, Gladiator, Erin Brockovich and Almost Famous.

Click here to read the nominations.

Crouching Tiger star Yeoh's competitors in the best actress category are Kate Hudson for Almost Famous, Juliette Binoche for Chocolat, Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich and Hilary Swank for Boys Don't Cry.

Swank took the best actress Oscar last year, but the film is only eligible for a Bafta this year.

Jamie Bell and Russell Crowe's competitors for best actor are Michael Douglas for Wonder Boys, Tom Hanks for Cast Away and Geoffrey Rush for Quills.

The best director nominees are Ang Lee, Stephen Daldry for Billy Elliot, Ridley Scott for Gladiator, and Stephen Soderbergh for Erin Brockovich and Traffic.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Martial arts sensation: Crouching Tiger
Gangster film Sexy Beast, starring Ray Winstone, is nominated for Best British Film. Jonathan Glazer's directorial debut is up against Chicken Run, Billy Elliot, House of Mirth and Last Resort.

Crouching Tiger's other nominations include best adapted screenplay, supporting actress for Zhang Zi Yi and best foreign language film.

It is also up for a costume award, along with Gladiator, which also has a best supporting actor nomination for Joaquin Phoenix alongside Oliver Reed.

This year's awards - to be held on 25 February - will mark the first time the Baftas have been held before the Oscars ceremony in Hollywood, rather than after it.

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Chicken Run: Best British Film nominee
Officials at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts moved the ceremony forward to give it more influence over the Academy Awards.

This year's awards - to be held at the Odeon Leicester Square, London - will be hosted by actor and comedian Stephen Fry, who said: "It's good they've been brought forward - an excellent way to bring more attention to them.

"The awards need boosting because practically every US film listed has a British interest."

Ray Winstone in Sexy Beast
Best of British: Sexy Beast is a nominee
Bafta hopes its awards will now have a similar international stature to the Golden Globes.

Stephen Fry alluded to Renee Zelleweger almost missing her prize at that ceremony.

"It's going to be held in a venue similar to that of the Oscars. Hopefully people won't be in the lavatory when their names are read out."

Bafta chairman Simon Relph said: "This year's race is truly international and one of the most open in recent memory.

"Our move to go before the American Academy Awards has greatly increased national and international interest.

"Our awards - the only other international awards apart from the Oscars - continue to be a celebration of excellence by the British Academy which reflects British film-makers' and cinema-goers' ongoing passion for the movies."

Click here to read the nominations.

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See also:

31 Jan 01 | Entertainment
The Bafta nominations
31 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Battle of the blockbusters
09 Apr 00 | Entertainment
American Beauty shines at Baftas
05 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Ang Lee's Tiger roars on
08 May 00 | Tom Brook
Gladiator conquers Hollywood
31 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Hoffman proves his character
06 Jan 01 | Entertainment
I'd like to thank...
22 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Globes honour Gladiator
30 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Billy Elliot star up for Hollywood award
09 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Winstone's gangster wrap
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