Curling tongs at dawn: the star stylists going head-to-head at the Baftas

 

The actresses behind portrayals of Margaret Thatcher and Marilyn Monroe are set to face off at next month's glitzy Bafta ceremony; and so too will their characters' iconic hairdos.

There were few surprises as the British Academy of Film and Television Arts announced the nominations for the 2012 awards yesterday. In the leading actress category, Meryl Streep remains the bookies' favourite for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, following Sunday's victory at the Golden Globes.

Yet she will face strong competition from Michelle Williams, who played the titular role in My Week with Marilyn. Also in competition are two British women responsible for recreating two of the 20th-century's most recognisable women, vying for the award for make-up and hair.

Marese Langan oversaw the curlers on The Iron Lady, while Jenny Shircore was responsible for turning Williams into one of the biggest Hollywood stars of the 1950s.

Langan has worked on films including The Full Monty, Pirates of the Caribbean and In The Loop. She said she had extensively researched the archive material in preparation to transform Streep into Baroness Thatcher.

Shircore picked up an Oscar for her hair and make-up work on Elizabeth and a Bafta for The Young Victoria.

Yesterday's announcement saw The Artist continue to blow its rivals away with 12 Bafta nominations. Perhaps the most surprising nod, for a silent film, was the one for sound. Director Michel Hazanavicius said he was "speechless".

It outstripped Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which has been nominated in 11 categories. The adaptation of John Le Carré's novel will compete to win Best Film and Outstanding British Film. Director Tomas Alfredson has also been given a nod, as has actor Gary Oldman.

The other films in contention for Best Film are The Descendants, starring George Clooney, The Help, and the Ryan Gosling film Drive.

Senna, the documentary about Formula 1 racing driver Ayrton Senna, was named in the inaugural year of Bafta's documentary category but is also on the shortlist for Outstanding British Film. Director Asif Kapadia said: "It is great that we've been able to step out of documentaries, especially in such a strong year for British film." It will compete for the award with Tinker Tailor, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Shame and My Week with Marilyn.

Amanda Berry, Bafta's chief executive, said: "It has been a very strong year for both British and international films; there isn't a single film that doesn't deserve to be there."

Perhaps the biggest shock was over one actress who was passed over. Olivia Colman, who won the Best Actress award in the British Independent Film Awards this month for Tyrannosaur, missed out.

Colman is, however, up for the Best Actress award from the Evening Standard British Film Awards, it was announced yesterday. Tyrannosaur is nominated for four awards, including Best Film. Among the Best Actor nominations is Michael Fassbender, for his role as a sex addict in Shame.

Fair hair: Dynamite 'dos

* Marese Langan oversaw the curlers on The Iron Lady and says she likes to work closely with directors, costume designers and actors "to draw the visual elements out of the script". Early film work included the Angelina Jolie film Hackers and The Full Monty. More recently she has worked on blockbusters including Troy, Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven.

* Jenny Shircore recreated Marilyn's 'do and was born in India before moving to Britain at the age of 10. She worked for the BBC for 15 years, where early projects included make-up on Doctor Who and The Good Life. She moved into film, working on titles including Notting Hill, Girl with a Pearl Earring and W.E. She won an Oscar for Elizabeth in 1998 and a Bafta for The Young Victoria.

Why is the Iron Lady not up for best film?

The Iron Lady has received four Bafta nominations but it will not feature in the most prestigious category: best film.

Baroness Thatcher's former cabinet colleagues and current Tory ministers have damned the movie for its portrayal of her in advanced age. But was it a backlash from the left that saw The Iron Lady overlooked ?

Conspiracy theorists suggested that the traditionally left-leaning members of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts may have made a political rather than a critical point by leaving it off the "best film" list. But with 6,000 Bafta members voting in Britain and the US, encompassing a range of political views, it was unlikely that the academy was interested in getting into a political scrap. Maybe the film, its startling central performance aside, just wasn't good enough.

Nick Clark

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