Elton and Hanks expected at Baftas

Hollywood glamour is coming to the UK as movie stars troop up the red carpet for Britain's answer to the Oscars - The British Academy Film Awards.

Hollywood glamour is coming to the UK as movie stars troop up the red carpet for Britain's answer to the Oscars - The British Academy Film Awards.

Internationally known faces like Russell Crowe, Tom Hanks and Sir Elton John are among the stars heading to the Odeon in London's Leicester Square for the bash.

Teenager Jamie Bell is among the figures hoping to pick up a title as he goes up against Crowe and Hanks for best actor at the Baftas.

Billy Elliot - the homegrown hit in which Jamie stars as an aspiring ballet dancer - has picked up 14 nominations in total, tying with the martial arts fantasy Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

However, it is the Roman epic Gladiator, starring Crowe, which leads the field after being shortlisted for 15, including best film and best director for British film-maker Ridley Scott.

The film also holds out the possibility of a posthumous award for one of its stars, Oliver Reed, who died of a heart attack aged 61 in 1999 shortly before he completed work on the film. He is up against one of his Gladiator co-stars, Joaquin Phoenix.

The awards ceremony, to be hosted by Stephen Fry, has been brought forward several weeks from previous years to give it a more prominent position in the film calendar.

In past years it has been seen as something of a mopping up exercise after the Oscars, but this year it occurs a full month ahead of the US event.

Hilary Swank, an Oscar winner last year, Michelle Yeoh, Juliette Binoche and Sir Albert Finney are other nominees who will be attending the event.

And stars such as Goldie Hawn, Sir Elton John, director Robert Altman, Christina Ricci, Hugh Grant, Annette Bening and Dame Maggie Smith are expected to be presenting the winners with their prizes.

The ceremony itself is being shown live on Sky One at 6.45pm with highlights on BBC1 at 10.35pm.

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