BAFTA Awards: Is ‘Candelabra’s’ Michael Douglas a Lock?

Michael Douglas Behind the Candelabra

Any idea that BAFTA has a British bias falters with Ben Affleck and Emmanuelle Riva, last year’s winners for director and actress.

When BAFTA voters diverge from the Oscars, history shows they are more likely to favor an overlooked American or an unexpected European than a Brit.

BAFTA loves British talent, of course, but not more so than the Oscars. BAFTA voters have a habit of snubbing Oscar-winning British directors, as both Tom Hooper and Sam Mendes can testify.

This year, once again, a strong contingent of Brits have great chances to be honored on both sides of the Atlantic. These include Steve McQueen, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender for “12 Years a Slave,” producer David Heyman for “Gravity,” Paul Greengrass for “Captain Phillips,” Emma Thompson and producer Alison Owen for “Saving Mr. Banks” and Judi Dench, Stephen Frears and Steve Coogan for “Philomena.”

Perhaps Ejiofor is a marginally hotter favorite at BAFTA than the Oscars, because he’s personally so well-liked in U.K. circles. Perhaps “Rush” — a British production despite its American director and Australian and German stars — will figure prominently in the minds of BAFTA voters.

But if anyone is going to disrupt the BAFTA/Oscar lockstep this year, the most likely candidate is Michael Douglas, along with Matt Damon and Steven Soderbergh for “Behind the Candelabra.”

As a TV movie, “Behind the Candelabra” is ineligible for the Oscars, but qualified for the BAFTAs. Douglas got a hero’s welcome at a BAFTA screening earlier in the year, and British voters could delight in giving Douglas the late-career kudos denied him at the Oscars.

One Brit who could get much more attention at BAFTA is Coogan. Something of a national treasure in Blighty, Coogan is a contender not just for his performance in “Philomena” but also for co-writing the script with Jeff Pope.

More intriguingly, BAFTA voters (many of whom are TV people) might be tempted by Coogan’s perf and co-writing credit in “Alpha Papa: The Alan Partridge Movie.” This TV spinoff has a shot at a nom for top British film, quite possibly alongside “Philomena,” “Rush” and “The Selfish Giant.” Coogan’s double debut as a screenwriter also qualifies him, bizarrely, for the outstanding British newcomer award, if the jury can pick out his writing contribution from his more experienced co-writers on both films.

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