Past plaudits don’t guarantee future performance

BAFTA Preview

How good is BAFTA at predicting the future? Its prizes for British debut and short are about promise as much as achievement, so how many recent winners have gone on to forge notable careers?

In the first few years after it was introduced in 1998, the debut award seemed to act like a curse. Winners such as Richard Kwietniowski (1998), Asif Kapadia (2001) and Emily Young (2004) took six years to direct another movie, while Joel Hopkins (2002) took seven. Of these, only Kapadia has gone on to make more than one.

Lynne Ramsay (1999) and Pawel Pawlikowski (2000) moved onto their second projects more swiftly, Pawlikowski even winning a BAFTA for his soph pic “My Summer of Love.” But both slowed until completing their third movies this year.

Amma Asante, who won for “A Way of Life” in 2005, still hasn’t made another film.

There’s clearly no shortage of talent among these names. Ramsay and Kapadia will both be competing at BAFTA again this year, with “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and “Senna.” Perhaps it says more about how little structure there is to help even the most promising British newcomers to progress.

But from 2006 onward, BAFTA made a deliberate effort to identify filmmakers with better prospects. The hit rate for the debut award improved dramatically, with Joe Wright, Andrea Arnold, writer Matt Greenhalgh, Steve McQueen and Duncan Jones all advancing quickly onto one or several new movies.

Last year’s winner, Chris Morris for “Four Lions,” previously took the short prize in 2002. Paddy Considine, a contender this year for his directing debut “Tyrannosaur,” is also a former short winner.

However, in the past decade, the winner of best short was more likely to end up directing episodes of the long-running BBC daytime soap “Doctors” than making a feature film. Only two others, Hattie Dalton (“Third Star”) and Brian Percival (“A Boy Called Dad”), along with a handful of nominees (Sam Taylor Wood, Martin McDonagh, Tom Harper and David Yates) have managed to get a movie made.

BAFTA PREVIEW
Upsets at BAFTA on the wane? | Open field for bevy of British runners | Hurdling British reserve | Past plaudits don’t guarantee future performance

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