Joker leads Bafta nominations amid controversy over lack of diversity

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

The British Academy film awards will be handed out on Sunday amid controversy about the lack of diversity in the acting nominees.

Bafta bosses have said it is “disappointing” and “infuriating” that its membership have selected all-white performers to recognise at the ceremony, where Joker leads the nominations with 11 nods.

There was also dismay that no female directors were recognised for the seventh year in a row, since Kathryn Bigelow was nominated for The Hurt Locker in 2013.

Joker, the origin story of the comic book villain – starring Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, is in the running for best film, best actor, best adapted screenplay and best director.

It is closely followed by Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic The Irishman and Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood, which both scored 10 nominations and will also compete in the best film category, alongside Sir Sam Mendes’ war film 1917 and Korean film Parasite.

Phoenix, who has already won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award, will compete with Once Upon A Time star Leonardo DiCaprio, Marriage Story’s Adam Driver, Rocketman star Taron Egerton, and Jonathan Pryce for The Two Popes in the leading actor category.

It had been hoped that Greta Gerwig would land a directing nomination for her adaptation of Little Women, but she is only recognised in the adapted screenplay category, leaving an all-male directing line-up of Sir Sam for 1917, Todd Phillips for Joker, Scorsese for The Irishman, Tarantino for Once Upon A Time, and Bong Joon-ho for Parasite.

Presumptive frontrunner Renee Zellweger is nominated in the leading actress category for Judy, alongside Jessie Buckley for Wild Rose, Scarlett Johansson for Marriage Story, Saoirse Ronan for Little Women and Charlize Theron for Bombshell.

Johansson is also nominated in the supporting actress category, this time for Jojo Rabbit, while Margot Robbie has two nods in the category, for her roles in Bombshell and Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood.

The other nominees are Laura Dern for Marriage Story and Florence Pugh for Little Women.

The supporting actor nominees are Tom Hanks for A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood, Sir Anthony Hopkins for The Two Popes, Al Pacino for The Irishman, Joe Pesci for The Irishman, and Brad Pitt for Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood.

The winners and nominees in the majority of categories are voted for by 6,500 Bafta members, who are comprised of industry professionals and creatives from around the world.

Technical, writing and craft awards are chosen by the relevant specialist chapter.

Addressing the lack of diversity, Bafta chief executive Amanda Berry previously told the PA news agency: “Being totally honest, we are disappointed and that is not to take anything away from the people who have been nominated.”

Marc Samuelson, chairman of Bafta’s film committee, said: “Clearly everybody knows that everybody in the four acting groups of nominees are white, it’s infuriating, we can’t make the industry do something, all we can do is encourage and push and inspire and try to help people coming in at the bottom end.”

He added that the Bafta programme Elevate, which focuses on under-represented groups, will once again focus on female directors to try to address the issue.

The public votes for the winner of the EE Rising Star award, which has shortlisted Awkwafina, Jack Lowden, Kaitlyn Dever, Kelvin Harrison Jr and Micheal Ward.

Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy will be honoured with the Bafta Fellowship at the ceremony, which will be hosted by Graham Norton at the Royal Opera House on February 2.