As he prepares to join the great and the good of the movie world at tonight’s British Academy Film Awards, Benedict Cumberbatch says that it’s been a great year for film.

The Sherlock star will join fellow Brit Eddie Redmayne and a host of American stars, such as Reece Witherspoon and Amy Adams, to find out if they have won a coveted Bafta at the annual awards ceremony in London.

The ceremony, at the Royal Opera House, is seen as a dry run for the Oscars.

Eddie and Benedict will be vying for the title of Best Actor for their roles in box office successes The Theory Of Everything and The Imitation Game respectively.

Eddie, who plays scientist Stephen Hawking, has been lauded by critics and already won a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe for the role.

Michael Keaton, Ralph Fiennes and Jake Gyllenhaal will also be up against the British pair.

Last night, many of the stars enjoyed a pre-Bafta bash at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s west London home Kensington Palace.

Benedict, who said it was a chance for the film industry to have some fun before the nerves kick in tonight, described British drama as being in a good place.

“Britain has had a great year across the board, across writers, producers, actors and directors. It’s a very, very good time.

“The Imitation Game is a wonderful film, I’m thrilled the story has been told, and I’m very excited.”

Eddie, who also attended the party, described his experience making the film and the reaction as “wonderful”.

“I was pretty intimidated by (playing Stephen Hawking) but I tried to use that fear to galvanise me to work harder. Fear is a great catalyst.”

Fellow nominee Ralph said award nominations are an extra boost after working hard on a film.

“You never know what’s going to happen to a film, you make it, you put everything in to it, and it’s a bonus when Bafta and the Academy give it a nod at the end of the year,” he said.

“I’ve loved seeing all the other films, I love Birdman, Selma, which sadly is not being appreciated much here, I loved The Theory Of Everything, Whiplash – I could go on.

“It’s a great crop of films and performances.”

Eddie’s on-screen wife, Felicity Jones, could triumph as well after she was nominated for the best actress award against stars including Adams and Witherspoon.

Felicity also faces competition from Gone Girl star Rosamund Pike and Julianne Moore.

Other nominations include nods for Keira Knightley and Imelda Staunton for best supporting actress and Steve Carell and Ethan Hawke for best supporting actor.

Among the other awards presented on the night is the Rising Star, which recognises the best new talent.

Unbroken actor Jack O’Connell is among those nominated along with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who starred in last year’s period drama Belle as a mixed-race aristocrat, and Margot Robbie, who first found fame playing Donna Freedman in TV soap Neighbours and has gone on to appear in The Wolf Of Wall Street.

Also in the running for the gong, formally known as the EE Rising Star Award, are Miles Teller, who has recently appeared in Whiplash, and his Divergent co-star Shailene Woodley. The award is the only Bafta decided by a public vote.

Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel heads the nominations list with 11, one ahead of Keaton’s Birdman and The Theory Of Everything.

The Imitation Game, which stars Benedict as Cambridge mathematics alumnus Alan Turing, received nine nods.

All four are on the shortlist for Best Film along with Richard Linklater’s Boyhood.

The battle for best British film sees the Hawking biopic face competition from ’71 – a drama set in Belfast in the early years of the Troubles – and Paddington, which starred Ben Whishaw and Nicole Kidman, and was based on author Michael Bond’s books about the marmalade sandwich-loving bear.

Also nominated is Pride – based on the real-life alliance between gay rights activists and striking miners in the 1980s – and science fiction thriller Under The Skin.

Watch the ceremony tonight on BBC1 from 9.00pm.
 

There is also a special red carpet show beforehand on BBC Three at 7.30pm.