Well sing from on high, readers, let jubilation reign, let the Ferrero Roche be snapped up at half price along with some unpronounceable bottles of plonk. It’s that time of year once again when the film industry cherry picks the most palatable and lauded of its offerings from the last twelve months and decides which one is most deserving of a statuette that probably resembles the light switches in Trump tower. Or you could just call it the BAFTAs if you’re short on time.
Joking aside, however, 2018 was a strong year for British cinema on the whole and that is more or less what the BAFTAs are meant to showcase, and as a result the ceremony has historically been a far less reliable forecast for the Academy Awards than, say, the Golden Globes usually is (which doesn’t bode well for this year’s Oscars, but that’s another story). So with the nominations announced and the bookies’ odds narrowing like BlacKkKlansman’s chances in the best picture category, let’s address the big questions that everyone is asking: what’s going to win? Who’s been snubbed? How do I know all this? And should we still care?
Jumping right in with best picture then, it seems that Roma and The Favourite are the, ahem, favourites following the Golden Globes, although Green Book has defied expectations so far which is impressive for such a patronising piece of marshmallow-like trash. As I say, BlacKkKlansman is sort of the rank outsider here which, considering the other nominee concerning race relations in America is Green Book, is soul-crushing. For some however it’s the outstanding British film category that will be the big talking point of the night; it being BAFTA’s bread and butter after all.
Once again, The Favourite seems a likely champion, especially if it loses best picture to Roma, although Bohemian Rhapsody may clinch it based again on the Globes. But, for the record, it shouldn’t. If it were up to me, Lynne Ramsay’s visceral psycho-thriller You Were Never Really Here would take the cake in this and several other categories; Ramsay’s lack of a best director nod should fill us all with guilt.
Elsewhere the field of competitors is a bit more evenly spread. Best British debut is likely to go to Michael Pierce and Lauren Dark for their broiling drama Beast. Best documentary – though it’s a close race between all the nominees – seems as though it will go to Peter Jackson’s moving Great War restoration They Shall Not Grow Old which almost made me forget all that forty-eight frames Hobbit rubbish. Almost.
Best film not in the English language should go to Shoplifters or Cold War if all is right with world, however if it goes to Roma because Alfonso Cuaron’s spellbinding film has not won elsewhere then all will be very wrong with the world. One of the greatest injustices lies with the best animated film category. Yes, Into the Spider-Verse should win because it’s awesome but with a mere three nominees that do not include Early Man the field seems slightly anaemic. To quote Geoffrey Cox (and I’m as surprised as you are that I just typed that); BAFTA, ‘what are you playing at?’
‘if the British public make the right choice, they’ll give the rising star award to either Letitia Wright or Lakeith Stanfield’
Further down the field there are more neglected films appearing in the technical categories (editing, sound) such as First Man (though Claire Foy has a supporting actress nod) or even Barry Jenkins’ sweeping romance If Beale Street Could Talk, nominated for one award only. In the performance categories the nominations are predictable and fairly safe; Olivia Colman, Rami Malek, Amy Adams and Mahershala Ali are all safe bets (although I’d be giving supporting actor to Richard E. Grant just to make up for all those years Withnail and I has gone underappreciated).
The remaining nominations are all fairly arbitrary and could be picked in much the same way. I will say that Fantastic Twists and where not to use them shouldn’t be anywhere near an awards ceremony this year and that if the British public make the right choice, they’ll give the rising star award to either Letitia Wright or Lakeith Stanfield.
‘It’s audiences, not panels of judges who decide the worth of a film in this day and age’
In short, the usual complaints with the awards season are present as ever (where’s John David Washington’s best actor nomination? Why aren’t Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone nominated for leading actress?) and the big question posed at the start still lingers like a New Year’s hangover: should you still care?
The answer: probably not. With the Oscars struggling to find someone in Hollywood desperate enough to lose what little credibility they have left by hosting this year’s event (I hear Louis CK’s calendar is freeing up by the hour) it all points to the conclusion that us proles just aren’t that interested in seeing a room full of people in outfits that cost more than tuition fees congratulate themselves for three hours, when the films they’re congratulating themselves for are rarely the best films released that year. It’s audiences, not panels of judges who decide the worth of a film in this day and age, votes are cast with wallets and streams, and we curate our own media bubble of cinema and TV. I can’t be alone in having made wonderful discoveries from doing just that. So, on February 10th, maybe instead of sitting through the ceremony, you can find something better to watch.
Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e5/BAFTA_Cymru_Awards.jpg – by Hraybould