The Bafta Film Awards have unveiled a highly diverse nominations list, with 16 of the 24 acting nominees this year coming from ethnic minority groups.
Nomadland and Rocks lead the nominations for the 2021 ceremony, with seven nominations apiece.
The Father, Mank, Minari and Promising Young Woman all score six nods each.
Four women are nominated in the best director category, including Chloe Zhao for Nomadland. She won the same award at the Golden Globes last week.
But the biggest surprise is in the acting categories. Not one actor of colour was nominated last year, so the British Academy had faced pressure to diversify this year’s nominees.
That has resulted in a significant swing, with Daniel Kaluuya, Riz Ahmed, Dominique Fishback, Tahar Rahim and Bukky Bakray among the 16 nominees from ethnic minority backgrounds in the acting categories.
But many of the predicted nominees missed out, including Viola Davis, Carey Mulligan, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Olivia Colman, Glenn Close and Gary Oldman.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony without a live audience on 11 April.
7 nominations – Nomadland, Rocks
6 – The Father, Mank, Minari, Promising Young Woman
5 – The Dig, The Mauritanian
4 – Another Round, Calm With Horses, Judas and the Black Messiah, News of the World, Sound of Metal
3 – The Trial of the Chicago 7, His House, Soul, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Last year’s nominations sparked criticism over the all-white acting nominees and lack of female directors.
This year, four of the six nominees in each of the acting categories are from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Meanwhile, four of the nominated directors are women, while three are also nominated for best film not in the English language.
The Telegraph’s film critic Robbie Collin said: “Umm, wow – this is the wildest slate of Bafta directing nominees I think I’ve ever seen. When I and others were moaning last year about voters unthinkingly defaulting to the obvious choices, this was basically the dream alternative scenario.”
Fellow critic Rhianna Dhillon tweeted: “I am so pumped to go on the news tonight and NOT have the same old chat about diversity! Look at that director shortlist! Look at those acting categories!”
Bafta’s nominations list is out of step with those of other ceremonies this awards season, but that was welcomed by some.
“The Brits went their own path this year,” tweeted film critic Doug Jamieson. “They clearly couldn’t care less about the Oscar race. That’s fabulous. Every awards show should have this mentality. You do you, Bafta.”
Matt Neglia, host of the Next Best Picture podcast, agreed: “Happy to see Bafta recognize some of their own films for a change instead of predicting the Oscars.”
Big changes were made this year including the introduction of a longlist system in a bid to increase viewership of all the submitted films.
Following a seven-month review into the lack of diversity last year, Bafta introduced more than 120 changes to its voting, membership and campaigning processes.
They include the introduction of a new longlist round of voting, the expansion of the outstanding British film field to 10 nominations, and increasing all four acting categories and best director to six nominees in an attempt to ensure greater diversity.
Bafta chair Krishnendu Majumdar said: “After last year’s nominations, we started the BAFTA Review process with the intention of levelling the playing field and introduced a range of measures to ensure that all entered films were seen by our members and judged on merit.
“We hope today you can see some of those changes reflected in the breadth and depth of those nominated and we congratulate all our nominees.”
Film committee chair Marc Samuelson added: “One of the key issues raised time and time again… was that too much deserving work was not being seen. The changes we are implementing are designed to ensure these films are seen and judged on merit alone.”
The new first-round longlist voting system was introduced to encourage the 6,500 Bafta members to watch a wider range of films. Members vote to decide the nominations from hundreds of films up for consideration.