LONDON (Reuters) – “Joker”, a dark origins story about the comic book villain, led nominations for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards on Tuesday, but Britain’s top movie honours drew criticism over the lack of diversity in the acting categories.
Netflix film “The Irishman”, a star-studded gangster drama directed by Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, which won the best comedy/musical Golden Globe on Sunday, got 10 nominations each.
Also fresh from its triumph at the Golden Globes – where it picked up best drama and best director for Sam Mendes – immersive World War One drama “1917” received nine nominations.
The four movies will compete against South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s darkly comic “Parasite” for best film at the Feb. 2 awards in London as well as for best director.
“Joker”, directed by Todd Phillips, won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival and a Golden Globe acting prize for Joaquin Phoenix, who has received critical acclaim for his transformation from vulnerable loner into confident villain in the movie. Phoenix got a BAFTA leading actor nod.
He will compete against Leonardo DiCaprio in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, Adam Driver for Netflix divorce drama “Marriage Story”, Golden Globe winner Taron Egerton in Elton John musical biopic “Rocketman” and Jonathan Pryce in papal drama “The Two Popes”.
However, soon after BAFTA announced the acting contenders, online critics lamented the lack of diversity, using the hashtag #BaftasSoWhite on social media.
The leading actress list featured Scarlett Johansson for “Marriage Story”, Saoirse Ronan for the latest adaptation of “Little Women”, Charlize Theron for “Bombshell”, a drama about sexual harassment allegations at Fox News, Jessie Buckley for musical drama “Wild Rose” and Renee Zellweger for “Judy”.
Johansson was also nominated as supporting actress for “Jojo Rabbit”, a comic satire set during World War Two which in total got six nominations.
She faces competition from “Marriage Story” co-star Laura Dern, Florence Pugh for “Little Women” and twice-nominated Robbie for “Bombshell” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”.
Nominees for supporting actor were Al Pacino and Joe Pesci for “The Irishman”, Tom Hanks for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, Anthony Hopkins for “The Two Popes” and Brad Pitt for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”.
Asked about the acting categories “seem(ing) very white”, BAFTA Chief Executive Amanda Berry told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme: “I’m going to totally agree with you. That’s how I felt when I first saw the list.”
“This isn’t being disrespectful to anybody who has been nominated because it’s an incredibly strong list…If you look at the director category, where I hoped we would see at least one female director…that is an incredibly strong list,” Berry said, adding women directors were nominated in other categories.
She told Reuters BAFTA was also working on a new scheme for women directors.
Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian, additional reporting by Sarah Mills; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Emelia Sithole-Matarise