With the BAFTAs fast approaching us this Sunday, It’s high time we took a look at the best of the less high-profile films nominated for this year’s awards. Last week we covered the year’s big-hitters like Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, and David O. Russel’s American Hustle.

Stephen Fry will be hosting the ceremony again this year for the 9th time, which will be broadcast exclusively on BBC One and BBC One HD from 9pm onwards, and there will also be a red carpet show at 8:30pm on BBC3 for those who want to watch the stars of this year’s cinema arrive. If you cant catch it this year, why not follow the Zavvi Twitter account where we will be tweeting throughout the event.

Here are three of my picks from the dark horses of this year’s ceremony:

THE GREAT BEAUTY (LA GRANDE BELLEZZA) by Paulo Sorrentino

Jep Gambardella dancing under a tree

Nominated for BEST FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Visually spectacular from the first frame to the last, Sorrentino’s film is an exaltation of Rome in all its grime and glory. The foreign film category this year is extremely tight with The Great Beauty up against the brilliant and utterly harrowing The Act of Killing, the incendiary Blue is the Warmest Colour and Haifaa al-Mansour’s ground-breaking Wadjda.

Sorrentino’s movie edges it for me, however, with its truly mesmeric cinematography and music that manages to  constantly subvert sacrosanct moments with sin, and vice versa; revealing Rome’s inner nature as a society where the sacred and the profane are never too far apart.

NEBRASKA by Alexander Payne

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Nominated for BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY, LEADING ACTOR and CINEMATOGRAPHY.

Alexander Payne’s muted, lilting comedic drama is also notable for its cinematography, shot entirely in black and white, which reflects the film’s exploration of nostalgia. It is, however, Bruce Dern’s turn as Woody Grant that I would pick for Best Leading Actor.

Despite remarkable performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, Bruce Dern steals it for me with his portrait of a faintly unpleasant, drunk old git. It might not be the most bombastic performance this year, but it was certainly the most convincing.

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS by the Coen Brothers

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Nominated for BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY, CINEMATOGRAPHY and SOUND.

The final pick on my list is the enjoyably meandering Inside Llewyn Davis by the Coen Brothers. Though it wasn’t the year’s most engaging, moving or ground-breaking film, in one regard it can hold itself as assuredly the best: its music.

Oscar Isaac’s renditions of early both real and imagined 60’s folk and the quality of the production are second to none. The use of Dave Van Ronk’s music alongside original classics performed by Marcus Mumford was a perfect balance.

Either way, the ceremony will be a celebration of a best of British and world cinema. Make sure you don’t miss our twitter live feed over at the Zavvi Twitter when the awards start on Sunday, and have a look at our other blog pieces while you’re here!

What are your picks for the best films of the last year? Find the full list of nominations here.

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