4:41pm UK, Sunday February 21, 2010

Steve Hargrave, showbiz correspondent

Tonight is meant to be British cinema’s night to shine – but this year’s Baftas ceremony is dominated by Hollywood.
The shortlist for tonight’s event features a strong presence from British film An Education, which has eight nominations.

But it’s Avatar and The Hurt Locker – which also have eight each – that are being tipped to walk away with the big prizes.

Kathryn Bigelow has been heavily backed to win Best Director for The Hurt Locker, while James Cameron’s Avatar is favourite to win Best Film.

And it is a pattern that many think will be repeated at next month’s Oscars ceremony.

But often the Baftas favour homegrown acting talent, which means Carey Mulligan could pick up Best Actress for her part in An Education, the emotional coming-of age tale.

The actress, for one, can’t wait to walk down the famous red carpet.

“I’m so excited to go,” Mulligan told Sky News, “but it’s also cool to beat people!”

She added: “It’s amazing because it is such a British film, and it would be really nice for us at home, but whatever happens we’re going to be out really late.”

The UK is well represented in the Best Male Category, with Colin Firth hoping to take home the prize for his moving role in A Single Man.

Colin FirthColin Firth is hoping to take home a Bafta for his role in A Single Man

“I’ve been the bridesmaid a few times,” Firth told Sky News after he was nominated, “so I never get my expectations too high with Bafta. The competition is pretty frightening.”

It is also a big night for Andy Serkis, who goes up against Firth in the same category, where they both face Jeff Bridges, George Clooney and Jeremy Renner.

Serkis has been nominated for his extraordinary turn as Ian Dury in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. He says the nomination alone is reason to be cheerful.

“I’ve seen them all and they’re all great, so we’ll have to see what happens,” Serkis said.

“The fact of the matter is it’s nice to be up there with really great actors, and even to be in the same room as those guys, to even be considered for that is amazing.”

There is of course one category that guarantees a homegrown win.

The Outstanding British Film award will be a battle between An Education, Fish Tank, In The Loop and Nowhere Boy.

And there will be a Royal presence at the ceremony, with Prince William is attending the evening to present Vanessa Redgrave with the Bafta Fellowship Prize. The prince is appearing for the first time as Bafta’s new president.

Best Film:
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Up In The Air

Best Director:
James Cameron (Avatar)
Neill Blomkamp (District 9)
Lone Scherfig (An Education)
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)

Best Leading Actor:
Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
George Clooney (Up In The Air)
Colin Firth (A Single Man)
Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
Andy Serkis (Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll)

Leading Actress:
Carey Mulligan (An Education)
Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones)
Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)
Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia)
Audrey Tautou (Coco Before Chanel)

Supporting Actor:
Alec Baldwin (It’s Complicated)
Christian McKay (Me And Orson Welles)
Alfred Molina (An Education)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Supporting Actress:
Anne-Marie Duff (Nowhere Boy)
Vera Farmiga (Up In The Air)
Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air)
Mo’Nique (Precious)
Kristin Scott Thomas (Nowhere Boy)

Outstanding British film:
An Education
Fish Tank
In The Loop
Nowhere Boy

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer:
Lucy Bailey, Andrew Thompson, Elizabeth Morgan Hemlock, David Pearson
(directors, producers – Mugabe And The White African)
Eran Creevy (writer/director – Shifty)
Stuart Hazeldine (writer/director – Exam)
Duncan Jones (director – Moon)
Sam Taylor-Wood (director – Nowhere Boy)