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Bafta Awards 2012: all eyes on 'The Artist'

British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award masks are buffed by an employee during a media viewing at the Savoy Hotel in London February 8, 2012. The BAFTA awards ceremony will take place on Sunday. (REUTERS)

By Staff

London gears up and rolls out the red carpet for the biggest night in the UK film calendar- The BAFTA awards.

Black-and-white silent film 'The Artist' is the award front-runner with 12 nominations, while Cold War thriller 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' has 11 nods despite being shunned at the Golden Globes.

Meryl Streep looks set to continue her awards run, with a nod for best actress for her portrayal of the former prime minister in 'The Iron Lady'.

She is up against Michelle Williams for her role as Monroe in 'My Week With Marilyn', and Tilda Swinton as the mother of a killer in 'We Need To Talk About Kevin'.

Argentinian actress Berenice Bejo is also in the running for 'The Artist', alongside US star Viola Davis for 'The Help'.

Streep said her nomination was "thrilling, thrilling news" and 'The Iron Lady' is up for four prizes, including supporting actor for Jim Broadbent as Denis Thatcher.

'The Artist' cements its reputation as an awards heavyweight, competing for the top prizes of best film and director.

Its French director Michel Hazanavicius admitted he had been a "bit mad" to embark on a black-and-white silent film, but said he was "thrilled, delighted andhonoured" to be recognised by Bafta voters.

Nominations for 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' include best film, director, British film and leading actor for Gary Oldman.

Oldman's rivals at the awards include heart-throbs Brad Pitt for 'Moneyball' and George Clooney for 'The Descendants'.

Irish-German star Michael Fassbender is up for leading actor for Shame, the movie about sex addiction, and French actor Jean Dujardin is nominated for 'The Artist'.

'Hugo', Martin Scorsese's first children's film, has nine nominations, including best director.

'My Week With Marilyn' has six and 'The Help' – set in the early 1960s racially-segregated American South – and 'War Horse' are each nominated five times.

Two men certain of taking home a trophy are Scorsese, who will be awarded the Bafta Fellowship, and John Hurt who will receive the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award.

None of the Bafta nominees will go away empty-handed, however, as they will all get a gift bag stuffed with goodies including a leather notebook, jet and silver cufflinks and a selection of beauty products.

They also get bottles of Disaronno liquor and champagne to toast their success or drown their sorrows as appropriate.