Entertainment & Arts

Benedict Cumberbatch to receive Bifa film honour

Benedict Cumberbatch Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cumberbatch is also up for best actor at the British Independent Film Awards (Bifas)

Sherlock and 12 Years A Slave star Benedict Cumberbatch is to be honoured at the British Independent Film Awards.

He will receive the Variety award at the London ceremony on 7 December for helping "focus the international spotlight on the UK".

The award coincides with the release of his latest film, The Imitation Game, in which he plays codebreaker Alan Turing.

The drama is up for four awards at the Bifa ceremony and has also been mooted as a potential Oscar contender.

"I am delighted to receive this prestigious award and would like to thank Variety and The Moet British Independent Film Awards for this incredible honour," the actor said in a statement.

"It is made even more special by the recognition of The Imitation Game in this year's nominations, a film I am very proud to be a part of."

Cumberbatch's roles include Atonement, War Horse, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Hobbit, in which he plays the role of Smaug, a dragon.

He studied drama at Manchester University before training at The London Academy of Dramatic Art, and first received acclaim for his portrayal of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in the 2004 BBC drama Hawking.

That role earned him his first Bafta Award, and he has also been rewarded for his roles in TV drama Small Island and, on the stage, Danny Boyle's Frankenstein, in which he alternated the roles of creature and Dr Frankenstein.

Other previous winners of Bifa's Variety Award include Jude Law, Kenneth Branagh, Liam Neeson, Sir Michael Caine, Daniel Craig, Dame Helen Mirren and Richard Curtis.

Last year, it went to director Paul Greengrass, who recently confirmed he would return to the Bourne movie franchise with Matt Damon.

Image copyright Press release
Image caption Political drama '71, set in Northern Ireland, has the most Bifa nominations

The Bifas celebrate British films made for less than £20m. This year's winners will be decided by a jury chaired by Tom Hooper, the Oscar-winning director of The King's Speech.

The contenders for best film are:

  • Calvary
  • The Imitation Game
  • Mr Turner
  • Pride
  • '71

In the best actor category, Cumberbatch will go head-to-head with Timothy Spall, who is nominated for his portrayal of JMW Turner in Mike Leigh's film.

The most nominated film is '71, about life in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, which is shortlisted nine times.

A complete list of this year's nominations can be found on the official Bifa website.

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