Firth looks for Oscar boost at BAFTA awards
With the Oscars just two weeks away, Colin Firth will hope to add to a raft of awards at the BAFTAs on Sunday when his role as the stammering monarch in "The King's Speech" is up for 14 awards.
The study of king George VI's battle with his speech impediment will vye for a major haul of awards with the ballet drama "Black Swan" starring Natalie Portman, which is nominated in 12 categories.
The BAFTAs offer "The King's Speech" a chance to regain some momentum ahead of the Oscars after it won just one gong -- for Firth -- at the Golden Globes, the awards considered the strongest pointers to Oscar glory.
Firth's personal success continued on Thursday when he was acclaimed Actor of the Year at the London Critics' Circle Film Awards.
However, "The King's Speech" was pipped to the best film award by "The Social Network", the blockbuster charting the founding of Facebook, just as it was at the Golden Globes. "The Social Network" is up for six BAFTAs.
Asked about reports that Queen Elizabeth II had seen and enjoyed the film about her father, Firth told the audience on Thursday: "It means a very great deal to me if that is the case."
He added: "I've had some fantastic ups and downs which have not necessarily been consistent with how they've been received so I've had a lot of highs and this is certainly one of them."
Leonardo DiCaprio thriller "Inception" has nine BAFTA nominations, while British director Danny Boyle's climbing drama "127 Hours" and "True Grit", the Coen brothers' take on the Western, are in eight categories.
"The Fighter" -- also tipped for Oscar glory -- failed to get a place among the BAFTA nominations for best film, although its British-born star Christian Bale is up for the best supporting actor award.
In the leading man category, Firth is up against Javier Bardem ("Biutiful"), Jeff Bridges ("True Grit"), Jesse Eisenberg ("The Social Network") and James Franco ("127 Hours").
Meanwhile Portman takes on Annette Bening and Julianne Moore from "The Kids Are All Right", Noomi Rapace ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") and Hailee Steinfeld ("True Grit") in the best actress category.
The BAFTAs, or British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, were shifted in 2002 from their traditional April/May slot to a pre-Oscar date in a bid to add to their weight.
© 2011 AFP