The British Academy’s shortlist contenders have been announced early this year – the ceremony has been brought forward due to the change in the Oscars this year. Top of the contenders is Anthony Minghella’s Cold Mountain, adapted from Charles Frazier’s excellent novel. Caught it at the weekend and thought it was a very good film – Minghella rarely makes bad ones after all – but not quite in the excellent category, so a bit surprised it picked up quite so many nominations (thirteen in all) since it simply isn’t as good as that would indicate. Lord of the Rings was just behind with twelve, although apparently mostly in technical categories once more. If Peter Jackson is denied at the BAFTAs and the Oscars this year then there is no justice. Shockingly there was something of an absence of noms for the excellent Tom Cruise film The Last Samurai for some reason.

The films nominated in the Best Picture category are:

Big Fish

Cold Mountain

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Lost in Translation

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Master and Commander was highly enjoyable, but no way should it be in with this crowd. Big Fish hasn’t even been released in the UK yet, so I can’t judge (but am hoping good old Tim Burton is back on form after the dreadful Planet of the Apes) and I’m hopefully going to catch Lost in Translation tomorrow (but the buzz is good). Still can’t believe Last Samurai was edged out for Master and Commander… And why do they refer to the Scarlett Johansson as a ‘newcomer’? She’s made piles of films even if she is only twenty!