He was among the nominations announced today at Bafta's HQ in central London by Hobbit star Luke Evans and Helen McCrory from the Harry Potter films.
The film's director Steve McQueen was also recognised with a nomination.
Also nominated was American chatshow host Oprah Winfrey for best supporting actress for her role in The Butler.
McQueen's tale of slavery in America's deep south is heavily tipped to do well at this year's awards season and was also nominated for best film alongside hit movies including American Hustle and Gravity.
Ejiofor faces competition for the leading actor gong from veteran Bruce Dern for his role in Nebraska and Hollywood stars Christian Bale, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.
Dame Judi Dench is nominated for the leading actress award for her role in Philomena along with American Hustle's Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Emma Thompson and Sandra Bullock.
The event, formally known as the EE British Academy Film Awards, is held in London on Sunday February 16.
Other big names among the nominations include Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon and Michael Fassbender who are all nominated for best supporting actor.
The best supporting actress category sees Jennifer Lawrence and Julia Roberts nominated along with Sally Hawkins for her role in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine and 12 Years A Slave star Lupita Nyong'o.
McQueen faces competition for the best director award from established names including Paul Greengrass and Martin Scorsese.
Space drama Gravity leads the pack with 11 nominations, one ahead of both 12 Years A Slave and American Hustle.
Comic and actor Steve Coogan is nominated for best adapted screenplay for his work with Jeff Pope on Philomena.
Kelly Marcel, who is due to write the script for the forthcoming 50 Shades Of Grey film, is among the nominees for the outstanding debut award for her work on Saving Mr Banks, about the making of Mary Poppins.
Also nominated in that category are Colin Carberry and Glenn Patterson who wrote Good Vibrations - the true story of Terri Hooley who ran a record shop in Belfast at the height of the Troubles.
American filmmaker Alex Gibney is nominated twice in the best documentary category for his films about drug cheat cyclist Lance Armstrong and whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
Here are the contenders for the main categories:
:: Best Film
12 Years A Slave
Bruce Dern for Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years A Slave
Christian Bale for American Hustle
Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf Of Wall Street
Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips
Amy Adams for American Hustle
Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
Emma Thompson for Saving Mr Banks
Judi Dench for Philomena
Sandra Bullock for Gravity
Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper for American Hustle
Daniel Bruhl for Rush
Matt Damon for Behind The Candelabra
Michael Fassbender for 12 Years A Slave
Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle
Julia Roberts for August: Osage County
Lupita Nyong'o for 12 Years A Slave
Oprah Winfrey for The Butler
Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine
Steve McQueen for 12 Years A Slave
David O.Russell for American Hustle
Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips
Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity
Martin Scorsese for The Wolf Of Wall Street
Outstanding British Film
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
Saving Mr Banks
The Selfish Giant
Outstanding Debut by a British writer, director or producer
Colin Carberry and Glenn Patterson for Good Vibrations
Kelly Marcel for Saving Mr Banks
Kieran Evans for Kelly + Victor
Paul Wright and Polly Stokes for For Those In Peril
Scott Graham for Shell
Film not in the English language
The Act Of Killing
Blue Is The Warmest Colour
The Great Beauty
Metro Manila Wadjda
The Act Of Killing
The Armstrong Lie
We Steal Secrets: The Story Of Wikileaks
Despicable Me 2
Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell for American Hustle
Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine
Alfonso and Jonas Cuaron for Gravity
Joel and Ethan Coen for Inside Llewyn Davis
Bob Nelson for Nebraska
John Ridley for 12 Years A Slave
Richard LaGravenese for Behind The Candelabra
Billy Ray for Captain Phillips
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for Philomena
Terence Winter for The Wolf Of Wall Street
Hans Zimmer for 12 Years A Slave
John Williams for The Book Thief
Henry Jackman for Captain Phillips
Steven Price for Gravity
Thomas Newman for Saving Mr Banks