Hopes of Oscar glory after `Vera Drake' scoops awards

VERA DRAKE, Mike Leigh's gritty film about a 1950s backstreet abortionist, continued its winning streak last night when it was named best film at a London awards ceremony .

The star of the film, Imelda Staunton, was crowned best actress at the Evening Standard British Film Awards, following in the footsteps of past winners, Dame Maggie Smith, Glenda Jackson and Emma Thompson.

Leigh's film is Britain's greatest hope for a prize at this year's Oscars ceremony, where it is nominated in three categories: best actress, best director and best screenplay.

The critically acclaimed film has also been nominated in 11 categories for next week's Baftas, where Staunton is tipped to win best actress.

The award for best actor went to Paddy Considine for his role in Dead Man's Shoes as a former soldier who returns to his village after seven years and seeks revenge on his brother's bullies.