Benedict Cumberbatch nominated for the British Independent Film Awards

And the nominations for The Imitation Game begin! The award ceremony will be on December 7th.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Timothy Spall will go head-to-head at the British Independent Film Awards after both were nominated for the best actor prize.

Sherlock star Cumberbatch is nominated for playing codebreaker Alan Turing in World War Two drama The Imitation Game.

Spall, meanwhile, is recognised for his portrayal of artist JMW Turner in Mike Leigh’s period biopic Mr Turner.

British thriller ’71, about life in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, leads the field with nine nominations.

Its leading man Jack O’Connell is also up for the best actor award, as are Ireland’s Brendan Gleeson for Calvary and 17-year-old Asa Butterfield for X+Y.

The Bifas, which celebrate British films made for less than £20m, will be handed out at a ceremony in central London on 7 December.

Keira Knightley, Cumberbatch’s Imitation Game co-star, is the most established name on this year’s best actress shortlist.

Her competition includes Cheng Pei Pei, the Chinese star of Lilting, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, star of the slavery-themed Belle.

Mbatha-Raw, 31, is also up for most promising newcomer for her turn as a Caribbean slave’s daughter who was raised as an aristocrat in 18th Century England.

Other candidates for that honour include British model Cara Delevingne, cited for her work in Michael Winterbottom’s film The Face of An Angel.

Timothy Spall’s son Rafe joins Cumberbatch’s Sherlock co-star Andrew Scott in the best supporting actor category, which also includes Michael Fassbender.

Fassbender, the star of X-Men and Hunger, is recognised for Frank, based on cult comedian Frank Sidebottom, in which the actor’s face is largely obscured by an outsized papier-mache head.

The best supporting actress award, meanwhile, sees Fassbender’s Frank co-star Maggie Gyllenhaal go up against Pride’s Imelda Staunton.

Pride, about an alliance between gay rights campaigners and pitworkers during the 1984 miners’ strike, has seven nominations in all.

They include a citation for the best British independent film award, presented last year to Philippines-based crime thriller Metro Manila.

Mr Turner, The Imitation Game and ’71 are also up for that trophy, the evening’s highest accolade, as is Gleeson’s blackly comic Calvary.

The recipients of this year’s Moet British Independent Film Awards will be decided by a jury chaired by Tom Hooper, the Oscar-winning director of The King’s Speech.

The royal drama won five prizes at the 2010 Bifas including best film, best actor, best supporting actor and best supporting actress.

A complete list of this year’s nominations can be found on the official Bifa website.

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