Cold War monster movie "The Shape of Water" led nominations Tuesday for the British Academy Film Awards , as organizers announced a new female host and promised to fight sexism and sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry.
Guillermo del Toro's fantastical thriller scored nominations in 12 categories, including best picture and best director, for the U.K. equivalent of the Oscars.
Del Toro said the nominations were vindication for an ambitious, genre-crossing movie "so in love with cinema that it fuses melodrama, musical, spy thriller, comedy."
"You toil and you never know whether you are going to be well received, what the destiny of the movie is," the Mexican director told The Associated Press.
Scorching tragicomedy "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" and Winston Churchill biopic "Darkest Hour" received nine nominations apiece for the BAFTA prizes, considered an indicator of likely success at Hollywood's Academy Awards.
Martin McDonagh, who wrote and directed "Three Billboards," said he was thrilled by the positive response to the film and its "strong and outrageous and nuanced" central character, played by Frances McDormand. The story of a mother avenging the rape and murder of her daughter won four trophies at the Golden Globes in Los Angeles on Sunday.
"You never know if a film that is as dark as this, and has as many strange shifts in tone as this, is going to connect," McDonagh said.
The BAFTA nominations brought good news for two movies snubbed by the Golden Globes: Christopher Nolan's visually dazzling war picture "Dunkirk" and Jordan Peele's comedy-horror story "Get Out."
The British academy embraced "Dunkirk" with nominations for best film and best director, among other categories. "Get Out" gained nominations for its British star, Daniel Kaluuya, and for original screenplay.
Winners will be announced at London's Royal Albert Hall on Feb. 18, two weeks before the Oscars.
The ceremony will be hosted by "Absolutely Fabulous" star Joanna Lumley, who is taking over from longtime master of ceremonies Stephen Fry.
Best-picture nominees are "The Shape of Water," ''Three Billboards," ''Darkest Hour," ''Dunkirk" and sun-dappled romance "Call Me By Your Name."
Best-actress nominees are McDormand for "Three Billboards," Annette Bening for "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," Margot Robbie for "I, Tonya," Sally Hawkins for "The Shape of Water" and Saoirse Ronan for "Lady Bird."
Best-actor contenders are Daniel Day-Lewis for "Phantom Thread," Gary Oldman for "Darkest Hour," Kaluuya for "Get Out", Jamie Bell for "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool" and Timothee Chalamet for "Call Me By Your Name."
Supporting-actor nominees include Christopher Plummer for "All the Money in the World." Plummer was a last-minute replacement for Kevin Spacey, who was cut from the already completed film following allegations of sexual misconduct.
Best-director contenders are del Toro, McDonagh, Nolan, Denis Villeneuve for "Blade Runner 2049" and Luca Guadagnino for "Call Me By Your Name."
Nominees for best British film — a separate category — are "Three Billboards," ''Darkest Hour," chilling comedy "The Death of Stalin," gay rural romance "God's Own Country," period drama "Lady Macbeth" and ursine adventure "Paddington 2."
The BAFTA awards ceremony is likely to echo the political tone of the Golden Globes, where many attendees wore black as a statement against sexual misconduct and Oprah Winfrey made a rousing speech calling for change.
BAFTA chair Jane Lush said the British film academy was determined to see the disturbing recent revelations become "a catalyst for real, lasting change."
Kristin Scott Thomas, who received a supporting actress nomination for playing Clementine Churchill in "Darkest Hour," said it's about time.
"The inequality is just insane, whether it's pay or whether it's opportunity," Scott Thomas said. "It's just enough, already.
"It will change," she said. "It's changing already. And now that the bullying has been highlighted — whether it's sexual bullying or just plain old bullying — men are starting to wake up to the fact that actually it's not acceptable. They have woken up to it, and they know they're not going to be able to get away with it anymore."
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