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The champagne is on ice and the red carpet is being rolled out as some of the biggest names in Hollywood gather for the Bafta film awards.

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The event is the biggest movie bash of the year in the UK and is seen as an accurate pointer for Oscar success.

One of the night’s most intriguing contests sees Margaret Thatcher face screen siren Marilyn Monroe as the actresses who play two of the 20th century’s most famous women go head-to-head.

Black-and-white silent film The Artist is the award frontrunner with 12 nominations, while Cold War thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has 11 nods despite being shunned at the Golden Globes.

Meryl Streep looks set to continue her awards run, with a nod for best actress for her portrayal of the former prime minister in The Iron Lady.

She is up against Michelle Williams for her role as Monroe in My Week With Marilyn, and Tilda Swinton as the mother of a killer in We Need To Talk About Kevin.

None of the Bafta nominees go away empty-handed. They all get a gift bag stuffed with top of the range goodies including a leather notebook, jet and silver cufflinks and a selection of beauty products.

They also get bottles of Disaronno liquor and champagne to toast their success or drown their sorrows as appropriate.

Comedian Stephen Fry hosts the awards at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden tomorrow – beamed out on BBC1.

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