Togas, ‘Tiger’ top BAFTAs

'Gladiator,' Lee pic share 14 noms; 'Billy' close behind

LONDON — The warriors are neck and neck, but the dancer is right behind them in the race for this year’s British Academy Film Awards.

Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator” and Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” lead the field with 14 nominations apiece, while Stephen Daldry’s “Billy Elliot” is pressing hard with 13.

The best film prize will be contested by these three, along with Steven Soderbergh’s “Erin Brockovich” and Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous.”

The BAFTA winners will be announced Feb. 25 at London’s Odeon Leicester Square theater. This is the first year the British Academy has held its ceremony before the Oscars, instead of two weeks after.

The move has triggered a big increase in media attention and Hollywood interest, with several studios (notably Columbia TriStar, Universal, DreamWorks and Miramax) launching concerted BAFTA campaigns for the first time.

Closely watched

Since this year’s roster parallels many of Oscar’s expected front-runners, the studios will be closely watching the results.

Had the BAFTA noms been filled with such films as “Magnolia” (eligible for Oscar last year) or “Memento” (which hasn’t yet opened in the U.S.), the BAFTAs would have remained a minor curiosity factor in Hollywood.

The campaigning this year certainly helped Miramax’s “Chocolat,” which picked up eight nominations even though the film has yet to be released in the U.K.

The diligence also paid off for Columbia’s “Crouching Tiger,” which grabbed the most BAFTA nominations ever for a foreign-language movie.

The inclusion of “Erin Brockovich” in the best film list at the expense of the same director’s “Traffic” was perhaps the only surprise.

But there was consolation for Soderbergh in the director category, where he was nominated for both pics, alongside Scott, Lee and Daldry.

The actor race pitches “Billy Elliot” star Jamie Bell against Russell Crowe (“Gladiator”), Michael Douglas (“Wonder Boys”), Tom Hanks (“Cast Away”) and Geoffrey Rush (“Quills”).

The actress prize will be contested by Juliette Binoche (“Chocolat”), Kate Hudson (“Almost Famous”), Julia Roberts (“Erin Brockovich”), Michelle Yeoh (“Crouching Tiger”) and Hilary Swank, whose Oscar-winning perf in “Boys Don’t Cry” wasn’t eligible for last year’s BAFTAs.

“Erin Brockovich” and “Almost Famous” managed six noms overall, while “Traffic” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou” snagged four apiece.

‘Traffic’ jam

“Traffic” seems to have suffered from being one of the few contenders not sent out on videotape. That perhaps also explains the failure of Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed “Memento” to figure at all, after Nolan insisted on a no-tape strategy.

However, the same approach clearly did not hurt “Crouching Tiger,” which opened to huge critical and box office success right in the middle of the BAFTA voting.

There was less evidence of hometown favoritism in the voting than in previous years, although the posthumous nomination of Oliver Reed in the supporting actor category clearly had a sentimental edge.

Reed is running against his “Gladiator” co-star Joaquin Phoenix, Benicio Del Toro (“Traffic”), Albert Finney (“Erin Brockovich”) and Gary Lewis (“Billy Elliot”).

The supporting actress race pitches perennial kudos candidate Judi Dench against her “Chocolat” co-star Lena Olin, Frances McDormand (“Almost Famous”), Zhang Ziyi (“Crouching Tiger”) and Julie Walters (“Billy Elliot”).

Olin, reached in New York, said she learned of her nom from husband Lasse Hallstrom, who is prepping “The Shipping News” in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “I was very, very happily surprised this morning when I got the call,” said the Swedish-born actress. “It was a thrill and an honor.”

The four acting awards and the best film prize are decided by a vote of the whole British Academy membership. All the other awards are chosen from the short list by expert juries.

Separately, “Gladiator” and “Billy Elliot” also are among the 10 top-grossing films of 2000, which will compete for the Orange Audience Award, voted by the general public. This short list is not counted in the tally of BAFTA nominations, although the prize is handed out at the BAFTA ceremony.

“We’re thrilled for all of the nominations,” said “Gladiator” producer Doug Wick. “We’re particularly pleased for Ridley and the other Brits to get this recognition in their home town.”

(Charles Lyons in Los Angeles contributed to this report.)

And the nominees are…

“Almost Famous”
“Billy Elliot”
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”
“Erin Brockovich”

(for the outstanding British film of the year)
“Billy Elliot”
“Chicken Run”
“The House of Mirth”
“Last Resort”
“Sexy Beast”

(for the most promising newcomer to British film)
Stephen Daldry
Lee Hall
Pawel Pawlikowski
Simon Cellan-Jones
Mark Crowdy

(for achievement in direction)
Stephen Daldry — “Billy Elliot”
Ang Lee — “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”
Ridley Scott — “Gladiator”
Steven Soderbergh — “Erin Brockovich”
Steven Soderbergh — “Traffic”

“Almost Famous” — Cameron Crowe
“Billy Elliot” — Lee Hall
“Erin Brockovich” — Susannah Grant
“Gladiator” — David Franzoni, John Logan, William Nicholson
“O Brother, Where Art Thou?” — Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

“Chocolat” — Robert Nelson Jacobs
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” — James Schamus, Wang Hui-Ling, Tsai Kuo-Jung
“High Fidelity” — D.V. De Vincentis, Steve Pink, John Cusack, Scott Rosenberg
“Traffic” — Stephen Gaghan
“Wonder Boys” — Steve Kloves

Juliette Binoche — “Chocolat”
Kate Hudson — “Almost Famous”
Julia Roberts — “Erin Brockovich”
Hilary Swank — “Boy’s Don’t Cry”
Michelle Yeoh — “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”

Jamie Bell — “Billy Elliot”
Russell Crowe — “Gladiator”
Michael Douglas — “Wonder Boys”
Tom Hanks — “Cast Away”
Geoffrey Rush — “Quills”

Judi Dench — “Chocolat”
Frances McDormand — “Almost Famous”
Lena Olin — “Chocolat”
Julie Walters — “Billy Elliot”
Zhang Zi Yi — “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”

Benicio Del Toro — “Traffic”
Albert Finney — “Erin Brockovich”
Gary Lewis — “Billy Elliot”
Joaquin Phoenix — “Gladiator”
Oliver Reed — “Gladiator”

(for achievement in music)
“Almost Famous” — Nancy Wilson
“Billy Elliot” — Stephen Warbeck
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” — Tan Dun
“Gladiator” — Hans Zimmer, Lisa Gerrard
“O Brother Where Art Thou?” — T-Bone Burnett, Carter Burwell

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”
“The Girl on the Bridge”
“Harry, He’s Here to Help”
“In The Mood For Love”

“Billy Elliot” — Brian Tufano
“Chocolat” — Roger Pratt
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” — Peter Pau
“Gladiator” — John Mathieson
“O Brother Where Art Thou?” — Roger Deakins

“Chocolat” — David Gropman
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” — Tim Yip
“Gladiator” — Arthur Max
“O Brother Where Art Thou” — Dennis Gassner
“Quills” — Martin Childs

“Chocolat” — Renee Ehrlich Kalfus
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” — Tim Yip
“Gladiator” — Janty Yates
“The House of Mirth” — Monica Howe
“Quills” — Jacqueline West

“Billy Elliot” — John Wilson
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” — Tim Squyres
“Erin Brockovich” — Anne V Coates
“Gladiator” — Pietro Scalia
“Traffic” — Stephen Mirroine

“Almost Famous”
“Billy Elliot”
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”
“The Perfect Storm”

“Chicken Run”
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”
“The Perfect Storm”
“Vertical Limit”

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”
“The Grinch”

“Going Down”
“Je T’Aime John Wayne”
“The Last Post”

“Cloud Cover”
“Father & Daughter”
“Lounge Act”
“Six of One”

“Billy Elliot”
“Charlie’s Angels”
“Chicken Run”
“Mission: Impossible 2”
“Stuart Little”
“The Grinch”
“What Lies Beneath”

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