BAFTA Awards: The Brits Spread the Love, but Will the Academy Do the Same?

Dev Patel BAFTA
ANDY RAIN/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Ever since the British Academy of Film and Television Arts shifted its voting procedure to mirror the American Academy’s — i.e., the separate branches determine nominations in each category while the entire membership chooses winners throughout — the annual BAFTA Awards have become slightly more instructive where predicting the Oscars is concerned.

Particularly in toss-up below-the-line categories, the winners across the pond can give an indication of what might happen on these shores — “Whiplash” winning best film editing, for instance, or “The Grand Budapest Hotel” winning best original score. Mark Rylance’s supporting actor Oscar victory last year was also presaged in the U.K.

It’s not an exact science. But it’s the first true window of the year into how a broad group of film artists perceives the season’s contenders in various categories. So while BAFTA’s crossover membership with the American Academy is minimal, it’s worth noting their choices when trying to gauge what could happen over here.

So, for those expecting anything approaching a sweep for “La La Land” at the Oscars this year, the immediate quest is: Did the Brits just douse those flames?

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With Damien Chazelle’s musical gobbling up a record-tying 14 nominations from the American Academy, many have been left wondering how close it could also come to the record for wins (11). For a while it frankly seemed like there wasn’t much competition in a number of categories, but we could have more of a race on our hands in those fields than we thought.

BAFTA voters notably spread things around in the crafts this year: editing for “Hacksaw Ridge,” sound for “Arrival,” costumes for “Jackie,” production design for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Though “La La Land” ultimately won score and cinematography, it appeared to be slowed down at every other turn, until it came to the major categories, where it predictably won best film, best director and best actress (Emma Stone).

In all, the British Academy awarded 14 different films Sunday, a stunningly liberal display. Only “La La Land,” “Lion” and “Manchester by the Sea” walked away with multiple honors. Will the American Academy be so generous? Or have they fallen head-over-heels in love with a movie they’ll be all too happy to check off in just about every category?

We’ll know soon enough. Final balloting begins tomorrow.

A few other BAFTA notes:

– Screen Actors Guild winner Denzel Washington (“Fences”) was not nominated today, paving the way for “Manchester by the Sea” star Casey Affleck. That category will be a nail-biter until the envelope is opened, it seems.

– Dev Patel’s supporting actor win for “Lion” over SAG winner Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) might be a shocker to some, but remember that “Lion” just opened in the U.K. and there has been a ton of press as of late. “Moonlight,” meanwhile, doesn’t open until next week. Patel is also a London guy, more of a lead in his film, and there isn’t the same urgency to reward a movie such as “Moonlight” across the pond as there is here. None of that is to take away from Patel’s win, however. He’s fantastic in the movie and clearly someone to keep an eye on for the upset on these shores.

– The BAFTA animated category was full of three Disney movies and then “Kubo and the Two Strings.” It’s entirely possible Disney support splintered off and allowed an easier track for the Laika film, and there could be some danger of that here as well, given that “Zootopia” and “Moana” are both nominated. But the presence of art house films like “The Red Turtle” and “My Life as a Zucchini” keeps things interesting at the Oscars. I still anticipate a “Zootopia” victory, but this was a nice feather in Laika’s cap.

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  1. Jay Bern says:

    Haven’t watched the Oscars in a few years and no longer even record the show. For people who tout inclusiveness and “loving the world,” the actors spew anger, hate, bitterness and superiority. Why watch this? Lion and La Land deserve biggest share of awards.

  2. mariejenkins11 says:

    fghf

  3. David smith says:

    I agree, there was a split among the amaintion voters and it’s pretty easy to see it! Just do a google trend in the U.K. over the past month with Kubo, Dory, and Zootopia. Look at just how closely Zootopia and Dory have been over this time and just what little interest Kubo had. It’s not hard to find a pattern.

    I seriously doubt this will happen with the Academy. Zootopia has just two many awards already and clear support along with to much going for it.

  4. Robert O'Dell says:

    Affleck should win as should Stone and La La Land.

  5. m Zidann says:

    Manchester By the Sea rightly won screenplay and actor.

  6. AllWiledUp says:

    Good for Kubo and the Two Strings. Hope it takes the Oscar too. Best film of 2016 animated or live action.

    • Jacen says:

      I hope so as well. The Red Turtle I would be fine with, too. But I suspect that the Academy will give it to Disney/Pixar, because the animated award has really devolved into the Disney/Pixar Award for Family-Baiting Cartooning.

      And I disagree with Ahsoka below; the Academy has nominated many worthy films/roles the past ten years. With some notable exceptions, they’ve done a good job improving themselves in the wake of their Dark Knight (not for) best picture fiasco. I might not alway like some of the films, but at least they are all (usually) acclaimed and are worthy of discussion for best of the year (and last year’s crop was especially strong).

    • Ahsoka says:

      The academy awards have a lot to do in order to redeem itself from the joke is has become for the past say 10 years. BAFTAs are doing pretty good. I just hope Isabelle Huppert wins best actress because she clearly gave the best performance in 2016. And Viola Davis is in serious need of an Oscar. Long overdue for both of these phenomenal actresses.

      • Jay Bern says:

        Many of the films and performances are exceptional. It’s the presentation itself – gaudy, promotional and way too political – that I can’t waste time on.

      • crossie says:

        Of course, Viola Davis’s being upset four years ago to Streep was predicted (and ignored by pundits after) the BAFTAS, so … I don’t know if I have a point there.

        TRIVIA!

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