In the eight years since the BAFTAs moved a month ahead of the Oscars, the two academies have gradually converged in their selections, culminating last year when they picked the same five nominees and winner for best picture.
Whether the Brits actually influence their American cousins or BAFTA voters are swayed by Hollywood tastes, or they just naturally tend to agree, is impossible to know. But the overlap in membership between the two organizations, along with the strong British presence in Hollywood and vice versa, makes London’s Royal Opera House a key waystation en route to Hollywood’s Kodak Theater.
One must be careful in drawing conclusions from individual awards. When BAFTA plucks a surprise winner, such as Marion Cotillard or Tilda Swinton, it can reveal which way the Oscar winds are blowing. But winds can change or blow differently in London and Los Angeles, as last year when Mickey Rourke took the BAFTA, but Sean Penn picked up the Oscar.
Nonetheless, analysis of the past eight years across the 10 major categories — film, director, the four acting and two script prizes, plus editing and cinematography – reveals certain trends.
n You almost certainly won’t win an Oscar if you don’t get nominated for a BAFTA.
n If you win a BAFTA, you will get nominated for an Oscar.
n Editors and cinematographers on either side of the Pond are more likely to disagree than actors, writers and directors.
n BAFTA and the Academy have drawn appreciably closer in the past four years.
The last time anyone won an Oscar after failing to get a BAFTA nomination in the 10 main categories was three years ago, when Guillermo Navarro took the lensing statuette for “Pan’s Labyrinth.”
The BAFTA-Oscar accord is strongest in the acting sections. They have picked the same actors to win 11 out of 12 times in the past three years.
Supporting actress is the section where BAFTA and Oscar agree most often. They have chosen the same winner seven times in eight years, diverging only in 2005, when Thandie Newton took the BAFTA and Rachel Weisz won the Oscar — but that was because BAFTA nominated Weisz for lead actress instead.
Denzel Washington in “Training Day” and Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman in “Million Dollar Baby” are the only actors to win Oscars without BAFTA nods (leaving aside Weisz and Jim Broadbent, who won Oscars and BAFTAs for different roles in the same year).
But “Million Dollar Baby” is an exceptional case, because BAFTA members didn’t see it in time to vote for it.
Halle Berry and Charlize Theron also won Oscars for films that missed the BAFTA deadline; both got nominated for BAFTA the following year. Such scheduling snafus have become less common in recent years.
The only actors to win a BAFTA and then fail to get an Oscar nod are Bill Nighy and Scarlett Johansson in 2003 and Newton in 2005. BAFTA winners for editing and cinematography are much more likely than actors to miss out on an Oscar nom. The writers often disagree over their nominees but end up picking the same winner.
Just to underline how quirky the relationship remains, the category with the least consensus is the biggest one. BAFTA and AMPAS have only chosen the same best film twice in the past eight years: “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”