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Baftas brace for 'blackout' as 'The Shape of Water' dominates

© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP | 'The Shape of Water' director Guillermo del Toro (l) and actors Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins will be hoping the film scoops more awards at the Baftas, following success at this month's Directors Guild Of America Awards

LONDON (AFP) - 

Guillermo del Toro's fantasy film "The Shape of Water" leads the nominations at Sunday's Baftas, where Hollywood stars will again turn the red carpet black in solidarity with the #Me Too movement.

The Cold War-era movie has 12 nominations, while crime drama "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" and "Darkest Hour", about British wartime leader Winston Churchill, each have nine.

All three are up for the best film award, along with another World War II drama, Christopher Nolan's "Dunkirk", and Luca Guadagnino's coming-of-age romance "Call Me By Your Name".

Del Toro, Guadagnino, Nolan and Martin McDonagh ("Three Billboards") are up for best director alongside Denis Villeneuve for "Blade Runner 2049" -- an all-male lineup that has drawn criticism, particularly this year.

With Hollywood still reeling from the fallout of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, actresses look set to wear all-black outfits at London's Albert Hall, just as they did at last month's Golden Globes.

Bafta nominees Margot Robbie and Allison Janney are among those who say they will repeat the gesture, which was a powerful statement by the A-list against a culture of sexual harassment and abuse.

- 'Justice and equality fund' -

It is not yet clear whether the Duchess of Cambridge will follow suit, however, when she attends with her husband Prince William, president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta).

Last year she wore a black Alexander McQueen gown with white flowers, but may be wary of being seen to breach royal protocol by aligning herself with a public protest.

In an open letter published Sunday before the awards, around 200 British stars demanded an end to sexual harassment and abuse.

Signatories, including Kate Winslet, Emma Watson, Emma Thompson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Keira Knightley and Saoirse Ronan, expressed solidarity with the Time's Up movement in the United States and called for donations to a new "justice and equality fund" for victims.

The letter to The Observer newspaper is addressed to "dear sisters", as was a similar statement by US actresses last month, and calls for an international movement to stamp out a culture of abuse exposed by the Weinstein scandal.

Timed to fall between the Globes and the Oscars, the Baftas' choices often mirror those of its American heavyweights.

"The Shape of Water", a story of love between a mute cleaning woman and a mystery merman-like creature, is leading the pack just as it has been across the Atlantic.

Aside from the best film and best director nods, Del Toro is up for original screenplay, Sally Hawkins is nominated as leading actress and Octavia Spencer for supporting actress.

The British-produced "Three Billboards" has nominations for best film, director and original screenplay for McDonagh, while Frances McDormand is up for leading actress, and Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson for best supporting actors.

Gary Oldman's turn as Churchill in "Darkest Hour" won him a Golden Globe and an Oscar nod, and has also put him in line for a Bafta.

In the leading actor category he is up against Timothee Chalamet ("Call Me by Your Name"), Daniel Day-Lewis ("Phantom Thread"), Daniel Kaluuya ("Get Out") and Jamie Bell ("Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool").

"Darkest Hour" has also been nominated in the best film and outstanding British film categories, while Kristin Scott Thomas is up for supporting actress for her role as Churchill's wife Clementine.

Robbie is nominated for leading actress for "I, Tonya", alongside McDormand, Hawkins, Annette Bening ("Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool") and Saoirse Ronan ("Lady Bird").

© 2018 AFP