By Marie-Louise Gumuchian
LONDON (Reuters) - A German remake of anti-war classic "All Quiet on the Western Front" leads the nominations at this weekend's British Academy Film Awards, which movie pundits will be following closely as an indicator for next month's Oscars.
Based on the 1928 novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque about the horrors of World War One from the perspective of a young German soldier, the Netflix drama overtook other award season favourites to secure 14 nods at Sunday's BAFTAs.
"Since 'Parasite' won best picture at the Oscars, the foreign language issue doesn't seem to be an issue, people seem to be embracing movies no matter where they're from," Jenelle Riley, a screenwriter and deputy awards and features editor at Hollywood publication Variety, told Reuters.
"All Quiet on the Western Front" will compete for the BAFTAs' top prize - best film - against dark comedy "The Banshees of Inisherin", the biopic "Elvis", dimension-hopping "Everything Everywhere All At Once" and music drama "Tár".
"Banshees", about two feuding friends on a remote island off the coast of Ireland, and "Everything Everywhere" each received 10 nominations. Their lead stars - Colin Farrell and Michelle Yeoh, respectively - are nominated in the main acting categories, where they both face stiff competition.
Farrell is up against Brendan Fraser for "The Whale", in which he plays a sick obese man trying to reconnect with his daughter, as well as Austin Butler for his portrayal of Elvis Presley in "Elvis". Bill Nighy ("Living"), Paul Mescal (Aftersun") and Daryl McCormack ("Good Luck to You, Leo Grande") complete the leading actor nominees list.
Yeoh, who has already won awards for her portrayal of a laundromat owner unexpectedly introduced to an alternate multiverse in "Everything Everywhere", and Cate Blanchett, who plays a gay conductor of a Berlin orchestra whose career comes tumbling down due to an abuse scandal in "Tár", are the two favourites for the leading actress prize.
That category also includes Viola Davis for "The Woman King" and Danielle Deadwyler for "Till", two Black actresses who were bypassed for Oscar nominations.
"Woman King" director Gina Prince-Bythewood is the only woman in the running for the director award, but the outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer category features all female nominees.
Box office hits "Avatar: The Way of Water" and "Top Gun: Maverick" are nominated in technical categories.
"The BAFTAs can be a big precursor for the Oscars. They’re one of the only big award shows that actually shares voting members with the Academy," Riley said.
"The Screen Actors' Guild... obviously share some overlap... but BAFTAs really are first look at what the Oscars may be thinking."
(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Bill Berkrot)