It's a long-standing tradition for British actors, directors, writers and musicians to swoop in from across the pond and snatch statuettes from their American peers.
The King's Speech (about as British as a movie can get) won its English director, Tom Hooper, the top prize in 2011. Helen Mirren has many nominations and one win to her name, and Daniel Day-Lewis can boast three statues, with more surely to come. Even the queen of the English music scene, Adele, has one for her Best Original Song, "Skyfall," which appeared in...Skyfall.
This year is no different. The nominations have been announced, so let's take a look at this year's crop of Brits poised and ready to claim the gilded prizes.
Photo by Cristiano Betta
After all the time spent listening to Bruce Wayne's lilting tones and Batman's gruff whispers, one tends to forget that Christian Bale is British. Well, technically he's Welsh, but he moved to England when he was one. He's nominated this year in the Best Actor category for his unforgettable star turn in American Hustle, a role for which he gained 43 pounds and affected a slouch that made him lose three inches. It's a completely different look than the one he pulled off in The Fighter, the last performance that snagged him a statue. In that film he was wiry and spastic, but we think he can win with a little weight on him, too.
Up against Bale in the Best Actor category is first-time nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, for his searing performance in 12 Years a Slave. Ejiofor got his start in British films such as Dirty Pretty Things and Kinky Boots, and this is his first starring role in an American film (though rom-com aficionados will recognize him as the guy who gets married to Keira Knightly in Love Actually). When we saw him before the Golden Globes at the BAFTA luncheon at the Four Seasons, he looked like he was in good spirits. And despite recently losing out to Matthew McConaughey, he's got a fighting chance to capture the prize.
The beguiling Sally Hawkins cut her teeth in the classic British fashion: Shakespeare adaptations on stage, and Victorian novel adaptations onscreen. She first earned acclaim for her role in Happy-Go-Lucky, directed by the celebrated English director Mike Leigh, in which she played a fearlessly cheerful schoolteacher. Happy-Go-Lucky got no love from The Academy, but Sally's bounced back with a nomination for her role in Blue Jasmine, playing the foil to Cate Blanchett's lauded performance. When reached in London and asked what she's going to do now that she's nominated, she said she's going to "go out and drag some people to the bar with me." Cheers!
Perhaps the most celebrated English actress in the world, Dame Judi Dench is once again poised to capture a statue. After a long career as a supporting actress, she earned her first nomination for 1997's Mrs. Brown. She's now racked up seven nominations and one win, for Shakespeare in Love. The most recent nod is for Philomena, in which she plays Philomena Lee, a woman looking for the son she gave up for adoption fifty years earlier.
Photo by Ping Foo
He may have the same name as the American movie star, but Steve McQueen the director is thoroughly British. He began his career as a visual artist, incorporating film into his work but showing them at galleries, not movie theaters. After winning the Turner Prize and cementing himself as one of the world's most celebrated artists, he turned to feature films, directing Hunger and Shame, both starring Michael Fassbender. Fassbender teams up with McQueen again for 12 Years a Slave. Don't be surprised if you see the two of them onstage at the end of Hollywood's biggest night, picking up the award for Best Picture.
Photo by the1secondfilm
For my money, Steve Coogan's greatest work of genius is still 24 Hour Party People, the delirious and hilarious take on the birth of the "Madchester" drug and music scene in Manchester. But that was wrongfully overlooked for the acclaim it deserved (well, in our opinion) and with Philomena, Coogan earns his first nomination at the big show. He's the lead actor in the film, playing the journalist who helps Philomena Lee find her son, but he also produced and co-wrote the thing, which means he's up for three awards. Not a bad first showing.
Whoever you're rooting for this year, one thing's undeniable: it's a good year to be a Brit.
Splash image by Michael Erazo-Kase