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Best Director Nominee: Mike Leigh

Film: Vera Drake

Previous best director wins for movie: BAFTA

Previous Oscar wins/nominations:

Nominated for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Secrets & Lies (1996)
Nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Topsy-Turvy (1999)

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Bio: Intense. Genuine. Depressingly realistic. These are some of the words that could describe Leigh’s repertoire, be it the 1993 dark comedy Naked, the 1996 family drama Secrets & Lies or the rousing 1999 Topsy-Turvy. That’s because the veddy British director is a realist. Actors know that when they sign up for a Leigh project, they do so blindly, getting only the most rudimentary scraps about their characters. Leigh relies on extensive rehearsals, during which the actors improvised their characters. “I like to work individually with every actor and have him or her live through the whole life of the character, all the way through,” he tells EW. And Vera Drake, which Leigh also wrote, is no exception. Lead actress Imelda Staunton digs deep to play a 1950s London housewife who dabbles in abortion practices, only to be brought down by the law for her troubles. Like we said, Leigh likes to keep it real.

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