British coming-of-age play”Rocks” and American gig-economy Western”Nomadland” lead the race to the British Academy Film Awards

LONDON — British teen drama”Rocks” and American gig-economy Western”Nomadland” lead the race to the British Academy Film Awards, which are being handed out Sunday during a pandemic-curbed ceremony.

Hugh Grant, Tom Hiddleston and Priyanka Chopra Jonas are one of the presenters who will announce the winners from the stage of London’s Royal Albert Hall, but award recipients will take their honors remotely, and there’ll not be a black-tie viewer to cheer them on.

Prince William, who was due to attend and make a speech at his job as president of Britain’s film academy, also will be absent after the death of his grandfather, Prince Philip, on Friday.

“Nomadland,” Chloe Zhao’s drama about a middle-aged woman who travels the American West while living out of her van, and”Rocks,” Sarah Gavron’s coming-of-age narrative about a Black adolescent girl in London, are the leading contenders, with seven nominations apiece.

The British movie academy shook up its membership and its own voting rules last year in an effort to tackle a glaring lack of diversity in the nominations. In 2020, no girls were nominated as best director for the seventh year running, and most of 20 nominees in the lead and encouraging performer categories were white.

This year’s record of acting nominees is more diverse, and four of the six filmmakers nominated for best director are women: Zhao, Gavron, Shannon Murphy (“Babyteeth”) and Jasmila Zbanic (“Quo Vadis, Aida?”) . Also nominated are Lee Isaac Chung for the family play”Minari” and Thomas Vinterberg for the Danish dark comedy”Another Round.”

Nominated for best film include: Zhao’s”Nomadland,” Florian Zeller’s dementia play”The Father,” Kevin Macdonald’s Guantanamo Bay drama”The Mauritanian,” Emerald Fennell’s revenge comedy”Promising Young Woman” and Aaron Sorkin’s 1960s court drama”The Trial of the Chicago 7″

Lead actor nominees are Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”), the late Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Adarsh Gourav (“The White Tiger”), Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”), Mads Mikkelsen (“Another Round”) and Tahar Rahim (“The Mauritanian”).

The nominees for many outstanding British film — a group enlarged to 10 — are:”The Dig,””The Father,””Calm With Horses,””His House,””Limbo,””The Mauritanian,””Mogul Mowgli,””Promising Young Woman,””Rocks” and”Saint Maud.”

The British awards, also called BAFTAs, are often held a week or two before the Oscars and have been an important awards-season staging post. This year, both the British and Hollywood awards were postponed from their usual February berths because of the coronavirus pandemic.

BAFTAs in craft and backstage categories were handed out Saturday. The service opened with a tribute to Prince Philip, that had been the first president of Britain’s film academy in 1959 and that died Friday at age 99.

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” won two prizes, for costume design and makeup and hair.

Actor, writer and director Noel Clarke received the outstanding British contribution to theatre award, dedicating it to”my young black boys and women out there which never believed it could happen to them.”