Espionage thriller "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and mute movie "The Artist" lead the race for Sunday's British Academy Film Awards, Britain's equivalent of the Oscars.
"The Artist" has 12 nominations and "Tinker Tailor" 11, with each up for best picture and director, and best-actor nods for the films' respective leading men, Jean Dujardin and Gary Oldman.
Bookies gave "The Artist" the edge, making the French film odds-on favorite to continue its awards-season success. It has already won three Golden Globes, and has 10 Oscar nominations.
George Clooney is the best-actor favorite for family drama "The Descendants," with Meryl Streep considered likely to win best actress for her much-praised performance as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady."
The British prizes, known as BAFTAs, are considered a strong indicator of likely success at Hollywood's Academy Awards, to be held on Feb. 26.
Stars including Clooney, Streep, Brad Pitt, Colin Firth and Judi Dench are due to brave the London cold and walk the red carpet before a televised ceremony, hosted by comedian, writer and actor Stephen Fry, at the Royal Opera House.
There are nine nominations for Martin Scorsese's Parisian fantasy "Hugo," six for moviemaking saga "" and five each for Deep South drama "The Help" and equine adventure "War Horse."
But many BAFTA-watchers are focused on the contest between French froth and British grit.
"The Artist," a buoyant black-and-white Gallic take on the golden age of Hollywood, has become an unlikely Oscars favorite.
"Tinker Tailor," an atmospheric adaptation of John le Carre's Cold War classic, has received rave reviews but has so far been snubbed during the U.S. awards season.
Both films are up for best picture, along with "The Descendants," ''Drive" and "The Help."
The best actor contest pits Clooney, Oldman and Dujardin against Brad Pitt for baseball drama "Moneyball" and Michael Fassbender for sex-addiction saga "Shame."
The best actress category includes two performers playing real-life icons — Streep as Thatcher and Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in "My Week With Marilyn." The other nominees are Berenice Bejo for "The Artist," Tilda Swinton for "" and Viola Davis for "The Help."
The multinational best-director contest pits Michel Hazanavicius for "The Artist" against Denmark's Nicolas Winding Refn, for the turbocharged "Drive," Sweden's Tomas Alfredson for "Tinker Tailor," Britain's Lynne Ramsay for "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and Scorsese for "Hugo."
Scorsese is also nominated in the documentary category, for "George Harrison: Living in the Material World," and is due to receive a special award for his contribution to cinema.
In recent years, the British awards have helped underdog films gain momentum for Hollywood success.
In 2010, Danny Boyle's "" won seven BAFTAs, including best film; it went on to take eight Oscars. Last year "The King's Speech" won seven BAFTAs and four Oscars, including best picture.