Instead of a Best Director gong, the British filmmaker will be presented with a prestigious Bafta fellowship at London’s Royal Opera House ceremony this coming Sunday 8 February.
The 71-year-old has said he is “moved, delighted and surprised” to be awarded the Academy’s highest accolade, after previously receiving a Bafta for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema in 1996.
Bafta chief executive Amanda Berry described Leigh as a “true innovator and exceptional filmmaker”.
Baftas 2015 nominees
Baftas 2015 nominees
1/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Rosamund Pike plays over-achieving Ivy League graduate Amy Dunne in Gone Girl and is nominated for leading actress
2/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Michael Keaton (left) with Edward Norton in existential comedy Birdman - Keaton is up for leading actor
3/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Julianne Moore receives a devastating diagnosis as linguistics professor Alice Howland in Still Alice - she has been nominated for leading actress
4/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Benedict Cumberbatch is up for leading actor for his role as code-breaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game
5/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Reese Witherspoon has earned a Baftas leading actress nod for her adventurous role in Wild
6/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Jake Gyllenhaal in plays a creepy journalist in Nightcrawler and is up leading actor
7/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Amy Adams is nominated for leading actress for her role alongside Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
8/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Eddie Redmayne is nominated for leading actor for his portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything
9/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Felicity Jones plays Stephen Hawking's wife Jane Wilde in The Theory of Everything and is up for leading actress
10/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Ralph Fiennes has a leading actor Baftas nod for Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel
11/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Patricia Arquette has a Bafta supporting actress nomination for her performance in Boyhood
12/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
J.K. Simmons stars as an abusive tutor alongside Miles Teller in Whiplash
Sony Pictures Classics
13/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Keira Knightley is nominated for supporting actress for her role in The Imitation Game
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Imitation Game/downloaded from Papicselect
14/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Ethan Hawke has a supporting actor nod for his performance in Richard Linklater's Boyhood.
15/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Emma Stone is up for supporting actress for playing Sam in Birdman
16/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Mark Ruffalo is up for supporting actor for his performance alongside Channing Tatum in wrestling drama Foxcatcher
17/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Rene Russo is nominated for supporting actress for her role as Nina Romina in Nightcrawler
Chuck Zlotnick/© 2014 Open Road Films/The Hollywood Archive
18/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Michael Keaton and Edward Norton star in Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman - Norton is up for supporting actor
19/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Imelda Staunton (centre) with Liz White and Nia Gwynne in Pride - Staunton is up for supporting actress at the Baftas
20/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Steve Carell is nominated for supporting actor for his role as John du Pont in Foxcatcher
Despite winning rave reviews from film critics, his film about English painter JMW Turner was overlooked in the Best Film and Best British Film shortlists.
Lead actor Timothy Spall missed out on a Best Actor nod despite winning the prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year.
“I was disappointed,” he told the Evening Standard. “I think a lot of people were expecting me to be nominated and then all of a sudden you find yourself getting swept up thinking that might happen and then it doesn’t and then you just let it go.”
Mr Turner is nominated in the cinematography, costume design, make-up and hair and production design categories, however, and is up for four Oscars.
A celebratory luncheon for Leigh will be held at the Savoy Hotel on Saturday before the main event airs on BBC1 at 9pm the next night.
Leigh, who has been nominated for five Oscars throughout his career, joins the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Martin Scorsese and Helen Mirren as a recipient of the Bafta fellowship.Reuse content