Tinker, tailor, soldier, prize? Why it's Smiley vs Monroe at the Baftas

Spy drama set to battle it out with Marilyn biopic as long-list of nominees is revealed

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has shaken off the disappointment of being snubbed by the Golden Globes, after the British film academy named it in 16 categories, putting it toe-to-toe with a biopic about Marilyn Monroe.

Critics lavished praise on Thomas Alfredson's adaptation of John Le Carre's spy thriller, and it has done brisk business at the box office. Yet it was overlooked when the prizes were handed out at the British Independent Film Awards, and then it failed to win a single nomination at the Golden Globes.

But it was a different story as the 15-strong longlists for the British Academy Film Awards were revealed yesterday. It is vying to make the shortlist in all the major categories including Best Film, Outstanding British Film and Best Director for Alfredson.

Gary Oldman's compelling performance as George Smiley, the spy put in charge of finding the mole within MI6, is among the front-runners for Best Actor. Colin Firth, John Hurt, Benedict Cumberbatch and Kathy Burke are all on the best supporting longlists.

Tinker Tailor will come up against My Week with Marilyn – the story of an assistant who worked on The Prince and the Showgirl, the troubled film that united Sir Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe – also with 16 nominations.

The film, directed by Kenneth Branagh, was nominated by the Golden Globes in the Best Picture – Comedy or Musical category and Michelle Williams' performance as Monroe also earned her a nomination. It has been named to the longlists of all the major categories by Bafta.

The Iron Lady appears in 14 categories, with its star Meryl Streep heavily fancied for Best Actress.

Bafta's 6,500-strong academy will now vote to bring the longlists down to five in each category. The eventual winners will be announced at a glitzy ceremony at London's Royal Opera House on February 12.

The films face fierce competition from The Artist. Support for the silent film has continued to grow, and many are calling it the favourite to win the best picture accolade at the Oscars next month. It is in the running for Best Film, with its director and leads also backed.

Senna, about the Formula 1 racing driver Ayrton Senna, which failed to make the running for Best Documentary at the Oscars, has made the Bafta Documentary longlist and has also broken out to make the longlist for Best Film.

Oldman will face a tough challenge for the Best Actor award from Michael Fassbender for his role in Shame, which won him a Bifa and a Golden Globe nomination.

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