By Max Eshraghi
The BAFTA film awards have always been the Oscar’s slightly more unassuming younger sibling.
While it mightn’t be quite as renowned or lavish, we Brits can conclusively make claim to having one thing over on our transatlantic cousins: BAFTA, unlike the so-called Academy Awards, frequently gets it “right”.
A quick look back over BAFTA and Oscar history shows that where the Oscars may have gone for a movie that was “of the moment” or that celebrated a good-old slice of Americana, our wise and prescient BAFTA voters have seen fit to award a movie that has conclusively stood the test of time.
Consider the time BAFTA bestowed Best Film unto Brokeback Mountain whereas Oscar plumped for Crash. Or when BAFTA gave Best Actor to Jack Nicholson in Chinatown, while Oscar went for Art Carny in Harry and Tonto. Mickey Rourke for BAFTA. Sean Penn for Oscar. Fellowship of the Ring for BAFTA. A Beautiful Mind for the Oscar.
And perhaps most sinfully of all, Goodfellas was BAFTA’s Best Film of 1990. Oscar’s choice?… Driving Miss Daisy.
With that in mind, we have our own predictions to make for BAFTA 2018. We’ll have to wait until the 18th February to see if the eventual winners are as worthy as past ones, of course.
- Call Me By Your Name
- Darkest Hour
- Dunkirk WINNER
- The Shape of Water
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Dunkirk has been, perhaps surprisingly, ignored by most of the major awards bodies who have announced their winners so far. However, I think there are a few key reasons the film will triumph at the BAFTAs.
Firstly, it’s a phenomenal piece of large scale film-making, calling to mind the epics of David Lean, a comparison which can only play in its favour (the BAFTA award for Best Director is quite literally called the David Lean Award for Achievement in Direction as if to exemplify the point). War pictures, when done well, are classic awards fodder and this is one of the finest in recent years.
Secondly, it has won acclaim among UK critics as well as among audiences (it has an 81% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes), who pushed it into the top 20 all time top grossing films in the UK, so there is clearly mass support for what would be a popular winner.
Thirdly, we mustn’t forget this is Brexit Britain. Although I am perhaps half-joking when I list this as a factor, let’s consider the following: Brexiteers and Remainers clash daily however both seem to agree that this is a great nation with a proud history and an idiosyncratic way of doing things on the world stage.
No movie since The King’s Speech has, in my opinion, championed this unique “Britishness” better than Dunkirk. Casting those stiff-upper lip soldiers, sailors and civilians as heroes, when they only play supporting roles in American productions, has garnered the love and admiration of the movie-going public and I’m betting BAFTA voters will be similarly smitten.
We are/were a great nation and nowhere is this better exemplified than in this depiction of the event that quite literally coined the term “Dunkirk spirit”. The time seems right for a winner who celebrates and reminds us of this.
Dunkirk is the one to beat at BAFTA 2018.
- Blade Runner 2049 – Denis Villeneuve
- Call Me By Your Name – Luca Guadagnino
- Dunkirk – Christopher Nolan WINNER
- The Shape Of Water – Guillermo Del Toro
- Three Billboards… – Martin McDonagh
The two-horse race that has been running the awards season up to this point will continue here. It’s Del Toro vs Nolan: Battle of the Fanboy Darlings.
Del Toro has had the edge in the American awards up to this point (at the time of writing, The Shape of Water has just claimed the PGA award for Best Feature, putting it in good stead for the Oscars). He is the favourite for the Oscar, the movie itself being a beautifully idiosyncratic celebration of the eccentric, the other and the fantastical. However, I think the BAFTAs may go a different way.
At this point in his career, Chris Nolan feels a bit like Steven Spielberg in 1985. His filmography reads as a string of simultaneous commercial and critical successes and he has established himself as a “brand” (“Nolan-esque” can be considered as much an adjective as “Spielbergian” or “Hitchockian”). Nevertheless, he has received little love from the major awards bodies. Like Spielberg, one can’t help but think this feels like a case of commercial backlash. A victim of his own success, Nolan was snubbed for The Dark Knight and Inception, perhaps for having the stigma of a commercial popularist.
But I digress, Dunkirk is his most conventionally “awards friendly” film to date. This could still be his Colour Purple at the Oscars (12 nominations, no wins) and Nolan may still have to make his Schindler’s List for his moment in the awards spotlight. This being the BAFTAs however, I think the British appeal will be strong – it’s Nolan’s for the taking.
OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
- Darkest Hour
- The Death of Stalin
- God’s Own Country
- Lady Macbeth (review pending)
- Paddington 2
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri WINNER
As ever in this category, a varied list of nominees; from the delightful tweeness of Paddington 2 to the hard-nosed, pitch-black vulgarity of Three Billboards. Darkest Hour channels that “Rule Britannica” pride but the movie itself is a little too by the numbers. The Death of Stalin, whilst a triumph for national treasure Armando Iannucci, perhaps feels a little too small as does the criminally under-seen Lady Macbeth1. Three Billboards has stormed to the head of the pack post-Globes in other awards shows and this is BAFTA’s opportunity to award a big prize to this haunting, emotionally complex work from Irish writer/director Martin McDonagh.
- Annette Bening – Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool [full review pending]
- Frances McDormand – Three Billboards… WINNER
- Margot Robbie – I, Tonya (review pending)
- Sally Hawkins – The Shape Of Water
- Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird (review pending)
Without a doubt the most competitive category of the night and it really could go one of three ways. Frances McDormand, as grieving mother Mildred Hayes, gets the meatiest of role of her competitors. This is the kind of role actresses kill for. McDormand’s Hayes is tough as nails, profanely eloquent and capable of great compassion and McDormand, already an Oscar winner – albeit more than twenty years ago – for Fargo, delivers an acting masterclass.
Sally Hawkins and Saoirse Ronan have home-turf advantage however. Both are more understated performances but there is a strong argument for claiming that Hawkins, in particular, has the more difficult role. I have felt all awards season that Lady Bird, despite starting out as a front-runner, will fall by the wayside for being more likeable than revolutionary and I think that will extend to the BAFTAs.
I’m going to say this category is McDormand’s with a very possible upset from Hawkins.
- Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread (review pending)
- Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
- Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour WINNER
- Jamie Bell – Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool (review pending)
- Timothee Chalamet – Call Me By Your Name
In 2012 Gary Oldman won the BAFTA for Best Actor for Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy. That performance was the definition of “understated”: Oldman’s Smiley was so subdued he barely had a pulse. It was not a showy performance. The point being if he can win for that, then Oldman, one of our greatest living actors playing one of Britain’s greatest historical figures under full prosthetics in all his blustering glory, is too good an opportunity to miss for BAFTA voters. Bet the house on it.
- Allison Janney – I, Tonya [review pending]
- Kristin Scott Thomas – Darkest Hour
- Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird WINNER (review pending)
- Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread (review pending)
- Octavia Spencer – The Shape Of Water
Another two-horse race between Janney and Metcalf. It’ll be close, largely dependant on which way the wind is blowing. However, I feel that Metcalf’s recognisably flawed mother in Lady Bird is the most heart-breakingly memorable of the two and more deserving of the BAFTA than Janney’s, at times, caricature-like performance.
- Christopher Plummer – All The Money In The World (review pending)
- Hugh Grant – Paddington 2
- Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards… WINNER
- Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
- Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards…
One of the more unpredictable categories of the ceremony.
Dafoe started out this season as the one to beat but now it’s looking increasingly like Rockwell. Hugh Grant’s “lucky to be here” inclusion is a testament to the immense good-will felt towards the lovable Paddington 2. Woody Harrelson is rightly included but outshone by co-star Rockwell. Christopher Plummer may get the award some thought he would get at the Globes for the frankly impressive feat of being an 88-year -old, delivering a five-star performance in just ten days.
But I think Rockwell will continue his winning streak at the BAFTAs. As a consistently brilliant supporting actor, this is his moment to shine.
EE RISING STAR AWARD (VOTED FOR BY THE PUBLIC)
- Florence Pugh
- Daniel Kaluuya WINNER
- Josh O’Connor
- Tessa Thompson
- Timothee Chalamet
For putting in not one, but two impressive performances in critically acclaimed movies this year, Timothee Chalamet could rightfully take this. However, there is a general sense this is just the beginning of a meteoric rise for Chalamet. Comparisons to Leonardo DiCaprio in 1993 when he was Oscar nominated for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape are not without merit.
Daniel Kaluuya’s inclusion provides BAFTA voters a perfect opportunity to reward the well-liked Get Out for its star-performer. Kaluuya’s performance was a mix of explosive emotional outbursts and non-verbal subtleties and he is as deserving as Chalamet.
- Jordan Peele – Get Out
- Steven Rogers – I, Tonya (review pending)
- Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird (review pending)
- Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor – The Shape of Water
- Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards… WINNER
BAFTA is often unpredictable when it comes to writing categories. This year’s original screenplay contenders are a particularly outstanding bunch making prognosticating more difficult than usual.
The Post screenplay by Liz Hannah was shut out entirely, demonstrating the quality of nominees this year. Get Out and the Shape of Water, whilst both refreshingly original concepts, were perhaps a little too light on outstanding dialogue. Lady Bird has a real shot at the title here, however Three Billboards is likely to take this one.
McDonagh is a previous BAFTA winner for writing the gloriously profane In Bruges, which is another strong indicator for a Three Billboards win.
- Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, David Schneider – The Death of Stalin
- James Ivory – Call Me By Your Name WINNER
- Matt Greenhalgh – Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (review pending)
- Aaron Sorkin – Molly’s Game (review pending)
- Simon Farnaby, Paul King – Paddington 2
Call Me By Your Name clearly has BAFTA support as demonstrated by it triumvirate of Director/Picture/Actor nominations.
Although it is almost certain not to win those three, BAFTA voters may see a good opportunity to reward this touching tale of young love in what is a weaker field than the Original Screenplay category. There is potential for a Death of Stalin upset however.
Blade Runner 2049 – Benjamin Wallfisch, Hans Zimmer
Darkest Hour – Dario Marianelli
Dunkirk – Hans Zimmer
Phantom Thread – Jonny Greenwood
The Shape of Water – Alexandre Desplat WINNER
Blade Runner 2049 – Roger Deakins WINNER
Darkest Hour – Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk – Hoyte van Hoytema2
The Shape of Water – Dan Laustsen
Three Billboards… – Ben Davis
Baby Driver – Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
Blade Runner 2049 – Joe Walker
Dunkirk – Lee Smith WINNER
The Shape of Water – Sidney Wolinsky
Three Billboards… – Jon Gregory
Beauty And The Beast – Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
Blade Runner 2049 – Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
Darkest Hour – Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
Dunkirk – Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
The Shape of Water – Paul Austerberry, Jeff Melvin, Shane Vieau WINNER
Beauty & The Beast – Jacqueline Durran WINNER
Darkest Hour – Jacqueline Durran
I, Tonya – Jennifer Johnson
Phantom Thread – Mark Bridges
The Shape of Water – Luis Sequeira
MAKE UP & HAIR
Blade Runner 2049 – Donald Mowat, Kerry Warn WINNER
Darkest Hour – David Malinowski, Ivana Primorac, Lucy Sibbick, Kazuhiro Tsuji
I, Tonya – Deborah La Mia Denaver, Adruitha Lee
Victoria & Abdul – Daniel Phillips
Wonder – Naomi Bakstad, Robert A. Pandini, Arjen Tuiten
Baby Driver – Tim Cavagin, Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater
Blade Runner 2049 – Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Mark Mangini, Mac Ruth
Dunkirk – Richard King, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo, Mark Weingarten WINNER
The Shape of Water – Christian Cooke, Glen Gauthier, Nathan Robitaille, Brad Zoern
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Stuart Wilson, Matthew Wood dfg
SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
Blade Runner 2049 – Gerd Nefzer, John Nelson WINNER
Dunkirk – Scott Fisher, Andrew Jackson
The Shape of Water – Dennis Berardi, Trey Harrell, Kevin Scott
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Nominees TBC
War For the Planet of the Apes – Nominees TBC