''Cold Mountain,'' ''Rings'' lead BAFTA nominees. BAFTA tips ''Cold'' for 13 nods (though none for Kidman), followed by 12 for the hobbits

By Gary Susman
Updated January 16, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

”Cold Mountain” is about the American Civil War, but its British writer-director (Anthony Minghella) and star (Jude Law) have made the film a hometown favorite in London. So it appeared with Monday’s announcement of the nominations for the British Academy of Film and Television Awards, which were nonetheless dominated, as always, by Hollywood-financed productions. ”Cold Mountain” earned 13 nominations, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress (Renée Zellweger), leaving only Best Actress Oscar hopeful Nicole Kidman out in the cold.

”The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” did nearly as well with 12 BAFTA nods, including Best Film, Best Director (Peter Jackson), and Best Supporting Actor (Brit Ian McKellen). ”Girl With a Pearl Earring,” a dark horse contender in the States, earned 10 citations, including one for star Scarlett Johansson (she was nominated for Best Actress for her roles in both ”Earring” and ”Lost in Translation.”) ”Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” was recognized in eight categories, including Best Film, Best Director (Peter Weir), and Best Supporting Actor (Paul Bettany).

”Big Fish,” another Oscar dark horse, earned seven nominations, including Best Film and Best Director (Tim Burton). Also scoring seven nods was ”Lost in Translation,” including recognition for Best Director (Sofia Coppola) and Best Actor (Bill Murray). ”Mystic River,” a top contender in America, earned just four nods, including one for double nominee Sean Penn, cited for Best Actor for both ”Mystic River” and ”21 Grams.”

The BAFTAs, which actor Stephen Fry will host in London on Feb. 15, have become an increasingly important stop on the Oscar hopefuls’ publicity circuit over the last few years, since the ceremony no longer serves as an anticlimactic follow-up to the U.S. Academy Awards. ”Internationally the BAFTAS have grown in importance over the last five years,” Fry told Reuters. Before the awards show moved to a date before the Oscars, he said, ”The BAFTAS used to be a bit of a damp squib.”