Previous winners have included James McAvoy, Tom Hardy and Juno Temple; Chiwitel Ejiofor, Emma Stone and Tom Hiddleston have all been nominated; and the 2014 BAFTA Rising Star nominees, announced today at their Piccadilly HQ, are Dane DeHaan, George MacKay, Lupita Nyong'o, Will Poulter and Lea Seydoux. BAFTA created the Rising Star accolade in 2006 to honour Mary Selway, who discovered a heap of exciting young talent during her 25-year casting director career before she died in 2004, but also as part of a concerted mission to make themselves a more glam, sexier proposition on the annual awards-season treadmill.
McAvoy was BAFTA's inaugural Rising Star, followed in succession by Eva Green, Shia LaBeouf, Noel Clarke, Kristen Stewart, Hardy, Adam Deacon and Temple. The nominees are selected by a jury which this year included BAFTA Deputy Chair Pippa Harris, actress Gemma Arterton and several UK entertainment journalists. The candidates, therefore, are generally well chosen, although Twitter cat-callers immediately demanded to know why Seydoux had been shortlisted over her "Blue Is The Warmest Colour" co-star Adele Exarchopoulos, who would arguably seem a snugger fit with the other four nominees.
Actors with substantial bodies of work behind them have always made the Rising Star shortlist when they're having breakthrough years. But given that Seydoux landed the Cannes Film Festival's version of a rising-star award, the 'Female Revelation', six years ago and has been nominated twice for Most Promising Actress at the French Cesars, is BAFTA arriving late to the party, we asked Seydoux after the ceremony?
"I don't know," she demurred. "I'm very excited to be nominated, I think I would faint if I won. The fact that the public vote for it is very encouraging. And 'Blue Is The Warmest Color' has been very successful in the UK, no? Very few French films get recognized here."