Film industry stunned by Bafta snub for Leigh

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Acclaimed in America, but British awards ignore director and star of 'Happy Go Lucky'

To some, he is a venerable British institution. To others, he is a master of kitchen sink gloom who immortalised the quirks of white working-class suburbia on film. Few, however, doubt his excellence at making art out of misery.

So when the multi-award winning director, Mike Leigh, finally released the closest thing he has ever made to a "feel-good" film, he quickly earned a clutch of awards and glittering write-ups for Happy-Go-Lucky. Finally, the merchant of gloom had lightened up. But yesterday, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts was not rewarding him for his efforts. In spite of Happy-Go-Lucky's almighty acclaim in America, where the film's leading actress, Sally Hawkins, earned a Golden Globe and is hotly tipped for Oscar success, Leigh's work failed to garner a single Bafta nomination.

For his fans, the omission is an unforgivable snub. The Academy has "history" with Leigh, who has criticised its voting methods in the past.

Critics expressed their "astonishment" yesterday – and were even more alarmed that Hawkins' name was nowhere to be found on the best actress nominations list. Only last month the film picked up two accolades at the Los Angeles Film Critics Circle Awards, for best screenplay and best actress, and Hawkins was also recognised at the Berlin Film Festival last year as best actress. Barry Norman, the veteran film critic, said he regarded Happy-Go-Lucky as every bit as good as Slumdog Millionaire, which gained 11 nominations. He hailed Leigh as a "prophet without honour" who has earned greater recognition and accolades in Europe and America. "I can't understand why it's been neglected," he said.

Simon Beaufoy, the writer of Slumdog Millionaire, put the omission down to the traditional British "suspicion" of optimism.David Parfitt, chair of Bafta, said that while he had felt a "gentle personal concern that Leigh's film opened some time ago in Britain" (in April 2008), distributors had made sure it was sent to Bafta's 6,000 members casting their vote. He defended the nominations in the light of Hawkins' Golden Globe by saying the awards were "radically different", adding: "The Globes are chosen by a bunch of foreign hacks, and there's only around 50 of them. We are 6,000 industry professionals." He added: "He [Leigh] has had 12 nominations over the years."

Leigh declined to comment.

The Orange British Academy Film Awards nominations

* Best Film

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

Frost/Nixon

Milk

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire

* Outstanding British Film

Hunger

In Bruges

Mamma Mia!

Man On Wire

Slumdog Millionaire

* The Carl Foreman Award for Special Achievement by a British Director, Writer or Producer for Their First Feature Film

Simon Chinn, Producer - Man On Wire

Judy Craymer, Producer - Mamma Mia!

Garth Jennings, Writer - Son Of Rambow

Steve McQueen, Director/Writer - Hunger

Solon Papadopoulos/Roy Boulter, Producers - Of Time And The City

* Director

Changeling - Clint Eastwood

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - David Fincher

Frost/Nixon - Ron Howard

The Reader - Stephen Daldry

Slumdog Millionaire - Danny Boyle

* Original Screenplay

Burn After Reading - Joel Coen/Ethan Coen

Changeling - J Michael Straczynski

I've Loved You So Long - Philippe Claudel

In Bruges - Martin McDonagh

Milk - Dustin Lance Black

* Adapted Screenplay

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - Eric Roth

Frost/Nixon - Peter Morgan

The Reader - David Hare

Revolutionary Road - Justin Haythe

Slumdog Millionaire Simon Beaufoy

* Film Not In The English Language

The Baader Meinhof Complex

Gomorrah

I've Loved You So Long

Persepolis

Waltz With Bashir

* Animated Film

Persepolis

Walloe

Waltz With Bashir

* Leading Actor

Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon

Dev Patel - Slumdog Millionaire

Sean Penn - Milk

Brad Pitt - The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler

* Leading Actress

Angelina Jolie - Changeling

Kristin Scott Thomas - I've Loved You So Long

Meryl Streep - Doubt

Kate Winslet - The Reader

Kate Winslet - Revolutionary Road

* Supporting Actor

Robert Downey Jr - Tropic Thunder

Brendan Gleeson - In Bruges

Philip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt

Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight

Brad Pitt - Burn After Reading

* Supporting Actress

Amy Adams - Doubt

Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Freida Pinto - Slumdog Millionaire

Tilda Swinton - Burn After Reading

Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler

* Music

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - Alexandre Desplat

The Dark Knight - Hans Zimmer/James Newton Howard

Mamma Mia! - Benny Andersson/Bjorn Ulvaeus

Slumdog Millionaire - AR Rahman

Walloe - Thomas Newman

* Cinematography

Changeling - Tom Stern

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - Claudio Miranda

The Dark Knight - Wally Pfister

The Reader - Chris Menges/Roger Deakins

Slumdog Millionaire - Anthony Dod Mantle

* Editing

Changeling - Joel Cox/Gary D Roach

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - Kirk Baxter/Angus Wall

The Dark Knight - Lee Smith

Frost/Nixon - Mike Hill/Dan Hanley

In Bruges - Jon Gregory

Slumdog Millionaire - Chris Dickens

* Production Design

Changeling - James J Murakami/Gary Fettis

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - Donald Graham Burt/Victor J Zolfo

The Dark Knight - Nathan Crowley/Peter Lando

Revolutionary Road - Kristi Zea/Debra Schutt

Slumdog Millionaire - Mark Digby/Michelle Day

* Costume Design

Changeling - Deborah Hopper

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - Jacqueline West

The Dark Knight - Lindy Hemming

The Duchess - Michael O'Connor

Revolutionary Road - Albert Wolsky

* Sound

Changeling - Walt Martin/Alan Robert Murray/John Reitz/Gregg Rudloff

The Dark Knight - Lora Hirschberg/Richard King/Ed Novick/Gary Rizzo

Quantum Of Solace - Eddy Joseph/Chris Munro/Mike Prestwood Smith/Mark Taylor

Slumdog Millionaire - Glenn Freemantle/Resul Pookutty/Richard Pryke/Tom Sayers/ Ian Tapp

Walloe - Ben Burtt/Tom Myers/Michael Semanick/Matthew Wood

* Special Visual Effects

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - Eric Barba/Craig Barron/Nathan McGuinness/ Edson Williams

The Dark Knight - Chris Corbould/Nick Davis/Paul Franklin/Tim Webber

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull - Pablo Helman

Iron Man - Shane Patrick Mahan/John Nelson/Ben Snow

Quantum Of Solace - Chris Corbould/Kevin Tod Haug

* Make Up and Hair

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - Jean Black/Colleen Callaghan

The Dark Knight - Peter Robb-King

The Duchess - Daniel Phillips/Jan Archibald

Frost/Nixon - Edouard Henriques/Kim Santantonio

Milk - Steven E Anderson/Michael White

* Short Animation

Codswallop

Varmints

Wallace And Gromit: A Matter Of Loaf And Death

* Short Film

Kingsland £1 The Dreamer

Love You More

Ralph

September

Voyages D'Affaires (The Business Trip)

* The Orange Rising Star Award (voted for by the public)

Michael Cera

Noel Clarke

Michael Fassbender

Rebecca Hall

Toby Kebbell

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