As with every kudos announcement, the BAFTA Awards nominations revealed some surprises this morning. While frontrunners like “Birdman,” “Boyhood” “The Imitation Game” and “The Theory of Everything” continue to thrive, there were several notable inclusions and exclusions, like the complete shut-out of Martin Luther King Jr. biopic “Selma” and the Angelina Jolie-directed “Unbroken.”
Though there is no official count, estimates claim around 500 BAFTA voters are also Academy Awards voters, and nods from the British organization can be a bellwether for things to come at the Oscar nominations. Not always, of course — just last year, Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto failed to score BAFTA nods for “Dallas Buyers Club,” as did original screenplay winner Spike Jonze for “Her.”
So perhaps that’s good news for “Selma,” which failed to land a single nom from BAFTA. This was more surprising than “Unbroken” not registering, as reception to the latter film has been mixed. But “Selma” not only has a higher awards profile, but four of the stars (David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson and Tim Roth) are Brits. “Selma” also missed out on a PGA nomination this week, but that is largely attributed to the fact that screeners weren’t made available to voters. Which means it’s possible BAFTA voters didn’t receive screeners, either.
Oyelowo’s absence in the lead actor category wasn’t the only notable omission; Steve Carell was moved to supporting for “Foxcatcher,” pitting him against co-star Mark Ruffalo. Though he has been campaigned as lead, where he is nominated for SAG and Golden Globe Awards, the BAFTA voters decided differently. The Academy could also do the same, which would open more real estate in the overcrowded lead actor field.
The move was a boon to Ralph Fiennes of “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” who beat out a slew of other actors vying for a spot including Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper” and, most notably, Timothy Spall for “Mr. Turner.” Mike Leigh’s biopic has never quite gained steam in the States, but was expected to do better on its home turf — it only garnered attention in the below-the-line categories.
Fiennes was part of a strong showing for “Budapest,” which is one of only two films to receive nominations in every guild award announcement thus far, the other being “The Imitation Game.” The Wes Anderson movie received 11 nominations, more than any other film.
Also continuing to show surprising strength is Dan Gilroy’s “Nightcrawler,” the sleeper hit that has received love from all the guilds except the cinematographers branch. While Jake Gyllenhaal has been showing up on all the lead actor lists, Gilroy’s script also received a nod, as did the editing and — the most pleasant surprise — Rene Russo for supporting actress. It’s a happy day in the Gilroy clan, as the editor is none other than Dan Gilroy’s fraternal twin, John, and Dan happens to be married to Russo.
“Whiplash,” long the front-runner for supporting actor, also showed muscle in other categories, including editing and Damien Chazelle’s screenplay, which was placed in original after the Oscars qualified it as adapted. But the biggest news was that Chazelle also scored a directing nod.
Chazelle’s inclusion meant no room for “The Imitation Game” helmer Morten Tyldum, despite a strong showing for the film with nine nods. Though the movie looks to be a shoo-in for an Oscar nod, the director has always been on the bubble. Also on the bubble is James Marsh for “The Theory of Everything,” who managed to slip into the crowded director field with BAFTA. The film is eliciting strong support, with a total of 10 nominations.
There were a few surprises in the women’s acting fields. With Jennifer Aniston not eligible for “Cake,” Amy Adams was recognized for her turn in “Big Eyes.” And in the supporting race, British icon Imelda Staunton earned a nod for “Pride,” leaving the likes of Laura Dern (“Wild”), Jessica Chastain (“A Most Violent Year”) and Meryl Streep (“Into the Woods”) in the cold.
The BAFTA Awards will be held Feb. 8 in London with Stephen Fry hosting again.