Mad king, sensible women and cute pig compete for film honours

JAMES CUSICK

Two British period films dramatising the insanity of a sovereign and the tangled love lives of two women will battle it out for this year's heavyweight titles in the Bafta awards.

The Madness of King George and Sense and Sensibility, both nominated in the best film category, will also see Nicholas Hytner and Ang Lee fight for the best director award. Helen Mirren and Emma Thompson are both up for the best actress award. George has 14 nominations, Sense and Sensibility 11.

The presentation of the awards on 21 April at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in central London promises another Emma Thompson show - she is also nominated for best-adapted screenplay.

The outsiders this year come in the form a story of saved bacon, the Australian film Babe, and the space story Apollo 13, where everyone knew the ending but sweated anyway. Apollo 13 receives five nominations.

Nigel Hawthorne, who missed an Oscar last year, has another chance as best actor in George, and Nicole Kidman is listed for the best actress award for her role in Gus Van Sant's satire To Die For.

Babe, the farmyard tale about a cute pig, is nominated in four categories, including best film. The box-office flop Waterworld and the latest James Bond film, Goldeneye, will battle it out in the special-effects section. The Bond movie is also nominated for best sound. The Italian Il Postino is the favourite for best foreign-language film.

Only four categories have been announced so far for the television awards. BBC1's Pride and Prejudice is nominated with Jennifer Ehle (Elizabeth Bennet) as best actress, Colin Firth (Mr Darcy) best actor and Benjamin Whitrow (Mr Bennet) as best supporting actor.

Completing the shortlist are Robbie Coltrane for Cracker, Ian Richardson (Francis Urquhart) for The Final Cut and Robert Lindsay for Jake's Progress; Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect, Geraldine James from Band of Gold and Juliet Stevenson from The Politician's Wife.

For best light entertainment, Rory Bremner (Rory Bremner - Who Else?), Caroline Hook (The Mrs Merton show), Paul Merton (Have I Got News for You) and Sir Peter Ustinov (An Evening with Sir Peter Ustinov) are nominated. Martin Clunes (Gary in Men Behaving Badly) is shortlisted for best comedy performance, along with Richard Wilson's Victor Meldrew in One Foot In The Grave, Joanna Lumley for Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous, and Judi Dench for As Time Goes By.

Bafta film nominations

Best film: Babe; The Madness of King George; Sense and Sensibility; The Usual Suspects.

Best Leading Actress: Nicole Kidman in To Die For; Helen Mirren in The Madness of King George; Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas; Emma Thompson in Sense and Sensibility.

Best Leading Actor: Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas; Nigel Hawthorne in The Madness of King George; Jonathan Pryce in Carrington; Massimo Troisi in Il Postino.

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