LONDON -- It's spry versus spy as frothy silent movie "The Artist" and moody thriller "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" lead the race for the British Academy Film Awards, Britain's equivalent of the Oscars.
"The Artist" received 12 nominations and "Tinker Tailor" 11, with each film up for best picture and director, and best actor nominations for leading men Jean Dujardin and Gary Oldman.
The other best-film nominees announced Tuesday were "The Descendants," "Drive" and "The Help."
In a diverse field not dominated by any single film, there are also multiple nominations for "Hugo," "My Week With Marilyn," "The Iron Lady" and "The Help."
The nominations are another feather in the cap of "The Artist," a black and white French film about a silent film actor's fall with the rise of talkies.
And they are a boost for "Tinker Tailor," an atmospheric adaptation of John le Carre's espionage classic that has received rave reviews but has so far been snubbed during the U.S. awards season.
The best actor contest pits Oldman and Dujardin against Brad Pitt for "Moneyball," George Clooney for "The Descendants" and Michael Fassbender for "Shame."
The best actress category includes two performers playing real-life icons - Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in "My Week With Marilyn" and Meryl Streep as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady."
The other nominees are Berenice Bejo for "The Artist," Tilda Swinton for "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and Viola Davis for "The Help."
The prizes will be awarded at a ceremony at London's Royal Opera House on Feb. 12. They are considered an important indicator of prospects at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles two weeks later.
In recent years, the awards, known as BAFTAs, have helped small British films gain momentum for Hollywood success.
In 2010, Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" 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.
"My Week With Marilyn," the story of the movie legend's time shooting an ill-starred comedy in England, received six BAFTA nominations, including a supporting-actor nod for Kenneth Branagh, who plays Laurence Olivier.
He is up against Christopher Plummer for "Beginners," Jim Broadbent for "The Iron Lady," Jonah Hill for "Moneyball" and Philip Seymour Hoffman for "The Ides of March."
The supporting actress category features Carey Mulligan for "Drive," Jessica Chastain for "The Help," Judi Dench for "My Week With Marilyn," Melissa McCarthy for "Bridesmaids" and Olivia Spencer for "The Help."
The multinational best-director contest pits Denmark's Nicholas Winding Refn, for the turbocharged "Drive," against France's Michel Hazanavicius for "The Artist," Sweden's Tomas Alfredson for "Tinker Tailor," Britain's Lynne Ramsay for "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and Martin Scorsese of the United States for "Hugo."
The best British film category contains "My Week With Marilyn," racing documentary "Senna," sex-addiction drama "Shame," family tragedy "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."
Steven Spielberg's equine adventure "War Horse" was overlooked in the major categories but gained five nominations including cinematography, visual effects and music.
THE ARTIST Thomas Langmann
THE DESCENDANTS Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
DRIVE Marc Platt, Adam Siegel
THE HELP Brunson Green, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Robyn Slovo
OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
MY WEEK WITH MARILYN Simon Curtis, David Parfitt, Harvey Weinstein, Adrian Hodges
SENNA Asif Kapadia, James Gay-Rees, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Manish Pandey
SHAME Steve McQueen, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Abi Morgan
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY Tomas Alfredson, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Robyn Slovo,
Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN Lynne Ramsay, Luc Roeg, Jennifer Fox, Robert Salerno,
Rory Stewart Kinnear
BRAD PITT Moneyball
GARY OLDMAN Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
GEORGE CLOONEY The Descendants
JEAN DUJARDIN The Artist
MICHAEL FASSBENDER Shame
BÉRÉNICE BEJO The Artist
MERYL STREEP The Iron Lady
MICHELLE WILLIAMS My Week with Marilyn
TILDA SWINTON We Need to Talk About Kevin
VIOLA DAVIS The Help
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER Beginners
JIM BROADBENT The Iron Lady
JONAH HILL Moneyball
KENNETH BRANAGH My Week with Marilyn
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN The Ides of March
CAREY MULLIGAN Drive
JESSICA CHASTAIN The Help
JUDI DENCH My Week with Marilyn
MELISSA MCCARTHY Bridesmaids
OCTAVIA SPENCER The Help
OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER
ATTACK THE BLOCK Joe Cornish (Director/Writer)
BLACK POND Will Sharpe (Director/Writer), Tom Kingsley (Director), Sarah Brocklehurst
CORIOLANUS Ralph Fiennes (Director)
SUBMARINE Richard Ayoade (Director/Writer)
TYRANNOSAUR Paddy Considine (Director), Diarmid Scrimshaw (Producer)
FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
INCENDIES Denis Villeneuve, Luc Dery, Kim McGraw
PINA Wim Wenders, Gian-Piero Ringel
POTICHE Francois Ozon, Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer
A SEPARATION Asghar Farhadi
THE SKIN I LIVE IN Pedro Almodovar, Agustin Almodovar
GEORGE HARRISON: LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD Martin Scorsese
PROJECT NIM James Marsh, Simon Chinn
SENNA Asif Kapadia
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN Steven Spielberg
ARTHUR CHRISTMAS Sarah Smith
RANGO Gore Verbinski
THE ARTIST Michel Hazanavicius
DRIVE Nicolas Winding Refn
HUGO Martin Scorsese
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY Tomas Alfredson
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN Lynne Ramsay
THE ARTIST Michel Hazanavicius
BRIDESMAIDS Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig
THE GUARD John Michael McDonagh
THE IRON LADY Abi Morgan
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS Woody Allen
THE DESCENDANTS Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
THE HELP Tate Taylor
THE IDES OF MARCH George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon
MONEYBALL Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan
THE ARTIST Ludovic Bource
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
HUGO Howard Shore
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY Alberto Iglesias
WAR HORSE John Williams
THE ARTIST Guillaume Schiffman
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Jeff Cronenweth
HUGO Robert Richardson
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY Hoyte van Hoytema
WAR HORSE Janusz Kaminski
THE ARTIST Anne-Sophie Bion, Michel Hazanavicius
DRIVE Mat Newman
HUGO Thelma Schoonmaker
SENNA Gregers Sall, Chris King
TINKER TAILOR SOLIDER SPY Dino Jonsater
THE ARTIST Laurence Bennett, Robert Gould
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 2 Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan
HUGO Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana MacDonald
WAR HORSE Rick Carter, Lee Sandales
THE ARTIST Mark Bridges
HUGO Sandy Powell
JANE EYRE Michael O'Connor
MY WEEK WITH MARILYN Jill Taylor
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY Jacqueline Durran
MAKE UP & HAIR
THE ARTIST Julie Hewett, Cydney Cornell
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 2 Amanda Knight, Lisa Tomblin
HUGO Morag Ross, Jan Archibald
THE IRON LADY Marese Langan
MY WEEK WITH MARILYN Jenny Shircore
THE ARTIST Nadine Muse, Gerard Lamps, Michael Krikorian
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 2 James Mather, Stuart Wilson, Stuart Hilliker,
Mike Dowson, Adam Scrivener
HUGO Philip Stockton, Eugene Gearty, Tom Fleischman, John Midgley
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY John Casali, Howard Bargroff, Doug Cooper, Stephen Griffiths,
WAR HORSE Stuart Wilson, Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson, Richard Hymns
SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN Joe Letteri
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 2 Tim Burke, John Richardson, Greg Butler,
HUGO Rob Legato, Ben Grossman, Joss Williams
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White
WAR HORSE Ben Morris, Neil Corbould
ABUELAS Afarin Eghbal, Kasia Malipan, Francesca Gardiner
BOBBY YEAH Robert Morgan
A MORNING STROLL Grant Orchard, Sue Goffe
CHALK Martina Amati, Gavin Emerson, James Bolton, Ilaria Bernardini
MWANSA THE GREAT Rungano Nyoni, Gabriel Gauchet
ONLY SOUND REMAINS Arash Ashtiani, Anshu Poddar
PITCH BLACK HEIST John Maclean, Gerardine O'Flynn
TWO AND TWO Babak Anvari, Kit Fraser, Gavin Cullen
THE ORANGE WEDNESDAYS RISING STAR AWARD (voted for by the public)