Women newcomers tip the balance at Baftas

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The Independent Online

When the British Academy of Film and Television Arts announced its shortlist of A-list stars-in-waiting last year, not a single woman made the grade. Now, with 2013 just a week old, the tables have turned.

Four of the five young talents competing for this year's Bafta Rising Star Award are women, although judges insisted yesterday that it was a "happy accident" rather than a conscious effort to redress the balance.

Juno Temple, the daughter of filmmaker Julien Temple, has made the shortlist after building up an impressive body of work by the age of just 23. She has received rave reviews for last year's dark Gothic comedy thriller Killer Joe.

Last night, she expressed delight that the prize had "gone female", saying: "It's good to redress the balance, to keep things even. When you look at the girls who have been nominated, some of their work is mind-blowing."

Temple believes 2012 offered a series of good roles for young actresses. "We are very lucky to have such diverse character roles coming our way," she added.

Other nominees include 31-year old Andrea Riseborough, whose recent credits include Made In Dagenham and Shadow Dancer. Her performance as Wallis Simpson in the royal biopic W.E., directed by Madonna, was hailed as the only positive note in movie that was widely seen as a disaster.

Also in the running is Elizabeth Olsen, 23, the younger sister of the former child stars Mary-Kate and Ashley. Her standout role was in Martha Marcy May Marlene, and she appears in Spike Lee's forthcoming remake of the violent South Korean thriller Oldboy. Alicia Vikander, a 24-year-old Swede, is in the running after landing only her first English-language role last year as Kitty in Joe Wright's adaptation of Anna Karenina. Critics also praised her performance in A Royal Affair.

The one man on the list is a first-time actor. Suraj Sharma, 19, was picked for the screen by chance when he accompanied his brother to an audition for Life Of Pi. He has since received stellar reviews for his portrayal of the title character who is shipwrecked with a tiger in the acclaimed fantasy adventure.

Previous winners of the Bafta Rising Star Award, now in its eighth year, include Tom Hardy, who played Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, and the Twilight actress Kristen Stewart. Last year's award went to Adam Deacon. The jury included critics Mark Kermode and Chris Hewitt, as well as actor Benedict Cumberbatch and director Kevin Macdonald.

Kermode said last night: "The number of female nominees was one of those things that happens. There wasn't any sense of doing it as a balance, although it's nice it's worked out like that. It's a happy accident with the emphasis on the happy."

The Rising Star prize will be presented at the Bafta awards in London on Sunday 10 February. Stephen Fry will host for a second consecutive year.