Cate Blanchett: Jon Furniss/WireImage
February 14, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Just in case Oscar voters care, the British Academy of Film and Television has added its tuppence worth regarding who deserves top honors in this year’s movie awards race At the BAFTAs, given out at a London ceremony on Saturday night, The Aviator was the top prize winner, earning four prizes, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress, for Cate Blanchett. Right behind Howard Hughes was Vera Drake, which won three prizes, including Best Actress (Imelda Staunton) and Best Director (Mike Leigh). The two films will face off in many of those same categories in two weeks in Hollywood.

Aviator‘s Leonardo DiCaprio lost Best Actor to Ray‘s Jamie Foxx; alas, Foxx was a no-show, so the Brits weren’t treated to one of his now-trademark acceptance speech Ray Charles sing-alongs. Supporting Actor went to Closer‘s Clive Owen. In what’s likely a preview for the Oscars, Charlie Kaufman won Best Original Screenplay for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor won Best Adapted Screenplay for Sideways.

A couple years ago, the BAFTAs moved forward by a month so as to precede the Oscars, and if they’re not quite a forecaster for the Hollywood prizes, then they’re at least a key marketing stop for American stars trying to promote awards-worthy movies to the increasingly all-important overseas audience. Still, despite the overwhelmingly American slant to the nominees, there were a few homegrown winners as well. The award for Oustanding British Film of the year went to My Summer of Love, while Amma Asante (A Way of Life) was recognized as the best new British filmmaker. And of course, there were Owen, Staunton, and Leigh, who may yet bring back some gold from the colonies in two weeks.

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