Bright and early tomorrow morning -- or just as you're about to go to bed, depending on where you are -- the British Academy of Film & Television Arts will announce their annual film nominations. And predicting those has got slightly less easy in the last two years, since BAFTA brass revised their voting system and ditched those telltale pre-nomination longlists. 

Voting now works very much along AMPAS lines, with individual branches determining nominees, and the whole membership voting on winners in all categories. (It used to be the other way round.) And while that is likely to make the final awards more predictable than they used to be -- gone, I fear, are the days of left-field technical wins like "Mulholland Drive" for Best Film Editing or "Vera Drake" for Best Costume Design -- it ups the likelihood of surprise and discernment at the nomination stage. (Gone, I hope, are the days when the mass vote would ensure head-scratching nods like "The Iron Lady" for Best Original Screenplay or Frieda Pinto for Best Supporting Actress.)
 
Still, some things are easy enough to predict about tomorrow's announcement -- as they are about the awards race in general, which BAFTA has increasingly reflected since shifting its place in the calendar to precede the Oscars 13 years ago.
 
No prizes for guessing that "12 Years a Slave" will comfortably lead the pack, nor that "Gravity" will secure a sizable haul of nominations. In addition to being dominant forces in the US awards race, they have strong British rooting factors: Steve McQueen has never been nominate by his BAFTA compatriots before, but they'll proudly claim him now, while Alfonso Cuaron's space spectacular comes from UK super-producer David Heyman, and was made with a host of British below-the-line talent. The samer goes for "Captain Phillips," from British director (and former BAFTA winner) Paul Greengrass -- expect a healthy tally.
 
For all that, none of those films are likely to be eligible (even under BAFTA's reasonably generous criteria) for the Best British Film award -- nearly every year, at least one film scores both there and in the Best Film category. (You'd have to go back to 2001 to find a Best Film lineup with no British productions in it.) The likely crossover title this year, of course, is "Philomena," which has been warmly received by domestic critics and audiences (it's the 12th-highest grosser of 2013 in the UK), and should hit BAFTA voters right where they live. If it shows up in the Best Film category tomorrow, you can keep considering it an outside threat for an Oscar nod.

The home favorite could, however, be crowded out by a gaggle of more quintessentially American contenders that may seem likelier Oscar plays than BAFTA favorites -- but never underestimate the voters' allegiance to Oscar buzz. ("The Help," for example, made little impact commercially or critically in the UK, yet there it was on nomination morning.) From that group, "American Hustle" would appear to be the biggest threat -- though BAFTA voters largely resisted Russell's last two Oscar-favored efforts. "The Fighter" and "Silver Linings Playbook" were nominated only for acting and writing, though Russell surprised with a Best Adapted Screenplay win last year. "Hustle"'s buzz should be loud enough this year to get one of his films into the top races for the first time.

Like Russell, Alexander Payne is less favored by BAFTA than he is by Oscar: "Sideways" scored a solitary writing nod in 2004 (though, again, he won), while "The Descendants" cracked a Best Film nod, but missed for Best Director. Something tells me "Nebraska" hasn't registered enough in the UK to snag more than acting and writing recognition, but it could be a spoiler. And the position of "The Wolf of Wall Street" is hard to read. The film hasn't been extensively screened, while the critical debate over the film that is currently raging in the US has yet to make its way over here -- that may be a plus or a minus. "Hugo" scored a fat pile of BAFTA nods, including Best Director for Scorsese, but missed out in the top category; I wonder if "Wolf," albeit with less below-the-line padding, might follow a similar path.

Anyway, my BAFTA nomination predictions in all categories are on the next page. Who do you think/hope will show up tomorrow? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

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