‘The Revenant’ Wins Key BAFTA Awards with Final Oscar Voting Underway (Analysis)

BAFTA Analysis: 'The Revenant' Pulls Ahead
Jonathan Hordle/REX Shutterstock

Either it's still a race or falling into place, depending on how you want to look at it.

It used to be that the annual BAFTA Awards could make for a quirky, equally industry-authoritative alternative to the Oscars. A ceremony date that fell after the Academy Awards and an inverted voting schematic — whereby the entire membership decided nominations and the various branches determined winners — led to interesting results that weren’t in lockstep with the season.

Films like “Romeo + Juliet” could take down key design categories. Others like “The Usual Suspects” and “Speed” could come out on top in best film editing. Local pride could show through as films such as “The Commitments,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “The Full Monty,” which had little to no hope at the Oscars, could reign as best picture champs.

Things started to change 15 years ago. First came a two-month shift of date from April to just before the Oscars, right in the heat of awards season. The voting scheme kept things interesting for another dozen years but in 2012, BAFTA finally swapped it out for one mirroring the Academy’s, with the branches determining nominees and the whole membership choosing the winners. It became somewhat instructive, particularly to see how a varied, multi-branch membership would collectively view the best in production design, sound, visual effects, etc.

As I’ve written, you could really make the connection last year in a number of tight races. The BAFTA Awards signified, for instance, that Alexandre Desplat’s “Grand Budapest Hotel” score was stronger than the presumably frontrunning “Theory of Everything,” and that “Whiplash” was a strong contender in the editing and sound mixing categories it eventually won at the Oscars.

There are still differences, considerable ones, really. Last year’s best picture victor “Birdman” only secured one BAFTA prize, falling to “Boyhood” in the Brits’ best film and best director races. But more and more, it seems, the result of this ceremony feels a bit like an Oscar cheat sheet.

This year there are some points of nuance to note. For instance, in the supporting acting categories, Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) and Kate Winslet (“Steve Jobs”) walked away with trophies. But they were not facing Sylvester Stallone (not nominated due to “Creed” taking off very late in the U.K.) or Alicia Vikander’s “Danish Girl” performance (BAFTA-nominated in the lead category). In best visual effects, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” took down films like “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Martian,” but “The Revenant” was not nominated as it is with the Academy.

Beyond that, you could easily see a number today’s winners translating in two weeks’ time. Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”) and Brie Larson (“Room”) for lead acting honors, “The Big Short” and “Spotlight” for screenplay, “The Hateful Eight” for original score, “Mad Max” for film editing, makeup, production design and costume design — all strong repeat possibilities.

It’s worth mentioning, however, that “The Revenant” was not BAFTA-nominated in a couple of those below-the-line categories, so it could still upset “Mad Max’s” trajectory at the Oscars.

Alejandro G. Inarritu’s best director path would appear to be paved now after wins from the Directors Guild and BAFTA. And with “The Revenant” securing the best film prize, things might seem to be clicking into place. But in a season like this, it’s difficult to be too sure. And there again, nuance: “The Revenant” provided an opportunity for the Brits to celebrate Inarritu’s work this year after passing over it last year. There are also the particulars of the preferential ballot to consider, which I won’t bother dredging up yet again.

So depending on how you want to look at it (and bias is a heck of a thing), we either still have a race on our hands, or inevitability is finally setting in. Call it.

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  1. David Wood says:

    If Leo does not win the Oscar this year, he is prepared to expose the corruption in the voting process just like the FIFA. After that, there will be an investigation into those at the top management. Oscar committee better lets Leo win this time, although some think he does not deserve it!

    • teriekwilliams says:

      You’re reading too much into your own Leomania. But rest easy, he will win. He won the majority of the awards so far. His main competition is Michael Fassbender, and his momentum fell off before it began.

  2. Bill B. says:

    I thought I had this all figured out, but that turns out not to be true. The only two scenarios I now see is a dominant win for The Revenant including picture & director or a Spotlight win IF it upsets in either the editing (which it does not deserve) or the supporting actor category. I’ve read that Stallone is not the most popular person in Hollywood, as the SAG awards may have indicated, and he certainly has never been an acclaimed thespian & this is the 7th time playing the same role while Ruffalo is well liked & highly admired with two previous nominations & is the representative of a strong male cast that I thought would have gone to Keaton. Stranger things have happened.

    I guess a third and far more unlikely scenario is if Spotlight becomes the first film in 67 years to win best picture and only one other award.

    However, I would love to be so wrong and see George Miller win.

    • Curious why Spotlight is the only other situation you can envision. Big Short’s PGA is meaningless? Also, Bale is a very strong possibility if you’re sensing weakness for Stallone.

      • teriekwilliams says:

        Didn’t I tell the Christian Bale “chatter” was empty.

      • teriekwilliams says:

        If you don’t win, you were never really strong. This Bale “chatter” seems misleading because it hasn’t resulted in anything, which is one of the ways it’s different from Crash or Birdman. Birdman became the odds-on favorite after it’s SAG, PGA & DGA wins. I myself predicted it to win.

        Crash won the SAG for cast, which was an overlooked indicator as the actors branch and homophobia launched Crash to a win. It also had wins from previous organizations, which Bale lacks. Denzel’s 2001 win is the closest analogy to Bale I could come across. And it’s highly rare, which is why Bale would be a wild bet… the total opposite of the “smart money.”

        P.S.: The Crash win is sorely regretted. In 2015, hundreds of Academy members were polled by the Hollywood Reporter, and voted for Brokeback Mountain. Crash director Paul Haggis admitted he didn’t think it deserved Best Picture.

      • teriekwilliams says:

        What steam has Bale picked up? Arkin won the BAFTA. Did Bale? Did he win ANYTHING of note? Since 2001, which actor with 6 nominations total and no major wins beat a favored actor with far more nominations & major wins? If so, what were the circumstances (Denzel won in 2001 because of Crowe’s tabloid issues). If Bale won the BAFTA, Globe or SAG, I could understand the belief that he might win. But he’s won one insignificant award in a special category.

        Lastly, stats are results of chatter that materialized into wins. The chatter for Bale so far is pretty empty in the result department. Back during the Globes, I saw a possibility. But now. No. So what I am to bet on? Immaterial chatter, or the stats/chatter/results that favored Stallone (or Rylance) since day one?

        And so yes, you view this differently. You listen to words that don’t bring results. I watch people’s actions, which are always the better indicator and fuel the predictions/handicapping. Do remember, chatter said Brokeback Mountain & Boyhood would win. The chatterers gasped when words of the envelope were read.

      • I’m not telling you to bet on anything. I’m picking Stallone, who is likely to win. But Bale is stronger than people seem to know, based on anecdotal evidence. Both things can be true at the same time.

        “Chatter,” by the way, actually said “Crash” would win. Ask around with anyone who covered the 2005 race. Lots of “Crash” talk in the final lap, which few (save David Carr, rest his soul) believed. And certainly the “chatter” was clearly all in “Birdman’s” favor last year, so if you think otherwise, you must just fly by the seat of your pants this time of year.

      • teriekwilliams says:

        I don’t know how you assume I hate the Big Short. I gave it an 8 out of 10 on IMDb. I think Christian Bale is an excellent actor, but I also think of the 5 nominees, he’s the weakest in terms of performance and Steve Carell was 10 times better. But I’m not basing my opinion of Bale’s chances on that.

        I’m basing my opinion on the fact that many people talk about Bale, but he’s won NOTHING of any importance and nominated for the least amount. This season, Rylance, Stallone & non-nominee Elba have won more. And who is the last actor to stroll into the Oscar winning 1 single small-time award and won the Oscar? These are tell-tale signs that this chatter is what’s meaningless. So my opinions are based on predicting/bookkeeping sites and stats. How about you? Chatter.

      • I presumed based on your comment about Bale. Apologies.

        It’s not unheard of for a performance to gather steam in the end. The freshness of it drives it. Alan Arkin won nothing prior to BAFTA/Spirit just before the Oscars, for example. Either way, stats don’t decide these things. I’m conveying what’s out there, and what’s out there is support for Bale. Not saying he will win, but of course I never said that. I said he’s a strong possibility.

        And so we’re clear: You’re saying prediction sites and stats are meaningful, but “chatter” from the people actually voting for these things is meaningless? Interesting, but instructive — perhaps you and I just view all of this differently.

      • teriekwilliams says:

        The “meaningless” stats have correctly predicted winners before, and the handicappers have correctly used them to make money. Second, for all the “strong possibilities,” Bale HAS NOT WON a single major award. Last, CHRISTIAN BALE WAS BORN IN WALES BUT IS NOT WELSH. He said himself, “I was born in Wales but I’m not Welsh – I’m English.” By your logic, his South African father who is English is not English is South African.

        Considering you can’t get your facts straight and obviously are basing 100% of your opinions about Bale’s chances on thin air, I’ll stand by own position that Bale is not a strong possibility and WILL NOT win the Oscar.

      • I know plenty about the stats. I’m largely responsible for much of their proliferation after doing this for 15 years.

        You said “his native England.” He’s not a native of England, he’s a native of Wales, however he may identify. Maybe be clearer next time.

        You obviously NEED the Bale chatter to be based on thin air because you’re invested; you hate “The Big Short.” Totally fine. But truth doesn’t stop being truth just because you don’t like it. He’s a strong possibility. I’m truly sorry if that bothers you but maybe be invested in things that actually matter instead.

      • Bill B. says:

        I realize that Spotlight and The Big Short are more or less in very similar situations. I just don’t feel that there is quite as much appreciation for TBS as there is for Spotlight. I certainly could be wrong. Unless there is some strong backing for one of them regardless of merit, neither is probable or deserving to win for editing against the likes of Mad Max & The Revenant, so I look elsewhere and can’t find anything other than supporting actor & I think the well liked Ruffalo has a better chance than the difficult Bale winning a second Oscar so soon. There is no doubt that Stallone is the favorite, but I am looking for a way another film can win other than the The Revenant, but maybe there just isn’t. Despite my personal preference of Mad Max and Room, I don’t think any film has a chance at best picture other than the three we are talking about & it’s really hard to come up with a scenario for others to win over The Revenant. Besides a best picture winner only winning two awards, the only other long shot possibility that I can see if TBS or Spotlight shockingly takes the director award and I don’t think many foresee either beating both Innaritu & Miller. Despite Miller’s stunning work, Innaritu seems invincible at this point as he did a terrific job, the film is both a critical and commercial success, he won the DGA and, sad to add, he is the only minority in a major category. I very much personally agreed with the BAFTA’s picture & director choices last year. Not as much this year.

      • teriekwilliams says:

        How is Bale a “strong” possibility. He has the least amount of award season nominations of any of the nominees (6 total) and has only won the Critics Choice Award for Best Actor in a Comedy (a fringe category outside of the main lead/supporting categories). He lost the BAFTA in his native England, and the Globe & SAG so far. And of all the nominees, it was the weakest performance.

        Stallone is pretty strong. If he has any competition, it won’t be Bale.

      • Because you’re looking at meaningless stats and I’m speaking anecdotally. He’s revered and people loved him in the film. Think what you wish from the sidelines but he’s very much in the conversation. (And FYI, Bale is a native of Wales, not England.)

        “And of all the nominees, it was the weakest performance.”

        As long as we’re clear that THIS is why you have such strong feelings here…

  3. david k says:

    The Oscars become anticlimactic after all these shows. Move it to mid January and be done with it.

  4. Dan Matthews says:

    I’ve just checked the odds, and in each of the the major categories, it is clearly a one-horse race.

  5. Jorge says:

    Bias? What bias? I mean if it’s not obvious to you at this point that TheRevenaRoomBigShortSpotlight is gonna win Best Picture then I can’t help you!!!;-)

    • So right, it’s a three way race now instead of a two way race. JMHO, but I’ve never put much faith in the Baftas. Once in a while they vote the same way as the Academy, but not that often, especially in the best picture race. I still think the two strongest contenders are Spotlight and The Big Short. The Revenant was just a lot of grunting and snow. Maybe men liked it more, but it had no real impact.

      • teriekwilliams says:

        From 2008 to 2014, the BAFTA & The Oscars agreed on Best Film 6 out of 7 times, which is a better track record than SAG. Only the PGA has a better track record.

        The Revenant’s BAFTA win is likely result of gaining too many awards to deny it the top prize. Voters had too much respect for the scope of it’s technical achievement. It may have no impact for you, but it was more than grunting & snow. Maybe for some women, it’s too dark, grim and violent to see beyond anything else. But for film buffs, it’s very Terrence Malick. It also plays to the theme of survival/revenge which is popular now (Walking Dead and all). Plus, Leo often draws a lot of butt-kissing for everything he does.

        Neither Spotlight or the Big Short could win with only 2 awards (Screenplay & Film). It won’t happen at the Oscars either. The Big Short needs editing to realistically win. Given The Revenant’s awards momentum and streak of Globes & DGA, it’s become a hard film to beat.

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