The best part of 40 years since Chariots of Fire screenwriter Colin Welland declared that “the British are coming”, it seems Hollywood now can’t get rid of us.
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A handful of homegrown movies popped up on the Oscars shortlists and there is no shortage of British talent appearing in the various categories, whether it’s in front of the camera or behind it.
So here are the Brits who will be competing for awards at the Oscars on 9 February...
Sir Sam Mendes and the 1917 crew
Britain’s biggest hope at the Oscars 2020 is definitely 1917 — a tale with a largely British cast and crew set in and around the trenches of the First World War. At the Golden Globes, Sir Sam Mendes won the award for Best Director and the movie won the prize for Best Picture (Drama) at the ceremony. Mendes and his crew will be hoping that his ambitious movie, presented as if in a single take, will wow Academy voters with its technical virtuosity. He also shares a surprise screenwriting nomination for the film with Scottish writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns.
Even if 1917 doesn’t entirely come out on top at the Oscars, it has pretty much guaranteed a big British win on the night. Roger Deakins is one of the most acclaimed cinematographers of all time and, now that he has won his first Oscar for Blade Runner 2049, it seems like an opening of the floodgates. If he doesn’t win for the technical ambition of 1917, it will be considered a major shock.
David Heyman (producer)
Best known for his work as a producer on the Harry Potter films, David Heyman has scored two Best Picture nominations this year. He has a producer credit on the Netflix divorce drama Marriage Story and on Quentin Tarantino’s hot favourite Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
It’s another year of Oscar success for Heyman, who was also a producer on Gravity, which won seven awards in 2014.
Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce
When you’re looking to cast a pair of famous religious leaders from Germany and Argentina, Hollywood would suggest that you should cast the net no wider than Wales. The Two Popes casts Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI and Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis — the current leader of the Catholic church. Both stars nabbed nominations at the Oscars 2020, with Pryce getting into the crowded Best Actor race and Hopkins securing a Best Supporting Actor nod.
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Pryce has never even been nominated at the awards before, despite his glittering career, while Hopkins famously won in 1992 for his work as serial killer Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.
British star Cynthia Erivo is only 33 years old, but she’s already only one award away from securing the coveted EGOT. She has two bites at securing the ‘O’ this year, with a pair of nominations for her work in Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet. Erivo might not seem like the most likely contender to emerge victorious in Best Actress, but she stands a real chance of winning Best Original Song for ‘Stand Up’.
Whatever happens, we’ll get to see a Cynthia Erivo performance at the Oscars, and that’s something worth treasuring.
Florence Pugh has had an almost unmatched year, appearing in three completely different, but equally impressive roles. She started the year as WWE superstar Paige in comedy biopic Fighting With My Family, spent the summer screaming in a field for Ari Aster’s Midsommar and then took on the challenging role of Amy March in Greta Gerwig’s new take on Little Women. It’s the final role that has secured her first Oscar nod, for Best Supporting Actress.
Next year, Pugh will move into the blockbuster arena with a role in Black Widow. She is a true rising star in Hollywood and will certainly have Oscar success coming her way in the very near future, even if it isn’t this year. She’s only 24, so she has plenty of time yet.
Elton John and Bernie Taupin
It’s very much a British affair at the summit of the Best Original Song race, with Cynthia Erivo’s main rival for the award likely to be the UK duo of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.
Their newly-penned song for Rocketman — (I'm Gonna) Love Me Again — was the winner of the Golden Globe and shared the gong at the Critics’ Choice Awards, so it looks like the best bet. Given the journey of these two men’s careers, it would be a lovely moment were they to win.
Chris Butler (director: Missing Link)
It has been a mixed year for stop-motion studio Laika when it comes to the success of Missing Link. On the one hand, the hugely ambitious animation flopped at the box office but, on the other, it emerged as the surprise winner of Best Animated Feature at the Golden Globes and today secured a nomination for the equivalent Oscar.
Read more: Butler on why stop-motion matters
Director Chris Butler did a terrific job of stretching the boundaries of what stop-motion can do with Missing Link and so it’s a delight to see him and his film achieving awards season glory.
Edward Watts (co-director: For Sama)
One of the most powerful entries in this year’s field for Best Documentary Feature is the intense, first-person Syrian War tale For Sama. It was Waad al-Kateab who was the filmmaker behind the camera and boldly placing herself in the centre of the story, but she was helped in wrangling the footage into a narrative by British filmmaker Edward Watts, who is known for his work at ITN and Channel 4.
For Sama could be considered the frontrunner for the Best Documentary prize, and with al-Kateab and Watts standing as worthy winners.
London-born Sandy Powell is one of the top names in the field of movie costume design, with 14 Oscar nominations and three wins under her belt prior to this year.
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Today, she secured a 15th nomination for her work alongside Christopher Peterson, navigating the various time periods of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. Only a fool would bet against her potentially winning yet again.
As well as securing some marquee nods, British talent is succeeding below the line as well. Members of the sound team on Ad Astra and Le Mans ‘66 are from the UK and visual effects specialists from these shores worked on many of the movies nominated in this category.
The British are everywhere, and we’re coming for the awards.