BAFTA unveiled its 2020 film nominations Tuesday morning. “Joker” came out on top with 11 noms ahead of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “The Irishman.” Here are some of the takeaways before the film world convenes upon London for the awards ceremony in early February.
1) It’s Margot Robbie vs. Margot Robbie
The odds of Margot Robbie scoring a best supporting actress accolade are surely high, if she can just beat herself. The star has two noms in the same category, for “Bombshell” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” As well as taking herself on, she competes against Laura Dern (“Marriage Story”), Scarlett Johansson (“JoJo Rabbit”), and Florence Pugh (“Little Women”). Johansson also scored two noms, albeit in different categories, with her other nod coming for best actress and “Marriage Story.”
2) People of color won’t win any BAFTA Film acting awards in 2020
BAFTA voters did not learn from the fallout from the all-white acting nominations lineup three years ago, once again selecting supporting and best actor lists featuring no people of color. BAFTA conceded the 2020 scenario is “infuriating” and shifted the blame onto the wider industry. Either way, it reflects badly on the organization and the wider biz, and social media lit up with recriminations.
3) More women feature, but no female best director nom again
BAFTA said 36% of all noms were for women and that it is on course for gender parity. The number of women directors featured rose from eight last year to 13 this time with noms in shorts and British film categories among others. But there was still a glaringly female-free best director category in a roster replete with heavyweight male helmers. BAFTA highlighted those all-star industry names in the best director lineup, but that excuse felt flimsy given no woman has now featured in the category since Kathryn Bigelow in 2013.
4) Real life stories take center stage
Whether it is “The Irishman,” “1917,” “Rocketman,” “Sorry We Missed You,” or “The Two Popes,” real life had a role to play in many of the movies nominated. BAFTA film committee boss Marc Samuelson said the interest in projects based on real events “reflects the time we live in.” In tumultuous moments, movie-makers are looking to dramatize events from the past to appeal to movie-goers of the present.
5) Hollywood is coming to London
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” got 10 noms and Hollywood will loom large when the BAFTAs are dished out at the Royal Albert Hall on Feb. 2. Tarantino’s latest tied with Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” and trailed only Todd Phillips’ “Joker” in terms of number of noms. The three took 31 between them. No other film got into double figures.
6) The old school holds sway
Some of the biggest filmmakers in the business are vying for accolades. Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and Sam Mendes all feature in best director in what BAFTA film committee boss Marc Samuelson told Variety “is a year when some of the absolute top dogs have hit, arguably, career bests or highlights.”
On the acting front, Al Pacino gets his first nom since “Dick Tracy” in 1991, for supporting actor in “The Irishman.” Joe Pesci, nominated in the same category, features for the first time at the BAFTAs since “Raging Bull” in 1982. Closer to home, British actor Jonathan Pryce is nominated for “The Two Popes,” his first BAFTA nod since 1996. Anthony Hopkins also gets a nom for “The Two Popes,” his first since 1994.
7) Tarantino might finally land a BAFTA
Quentin Tarantino has never won a BAFTA. He could be on stage three times this time out, with nominations for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” in best film, best screenplay, and best director. Tarantino talked about plans for a book, a play, and a series during a recent career retrospective in London. He’ll return to the British capital hoping to add a BAFTA to his awards haul.
8) “The Irishman” hoping to avoid a repeat of the Golden Globes
It is Groundhog Day for “The Irishman,” which received the (equal) second largest number of nominations for the 2020 BAFTAs, as was the case at the Golden Globes. Netflix will be hoping history does not repeat itself in London after a being completely snubbed at the Globes. Win or lose, chunks of the U.K. industry – notably certain exhibitors – remain opposed to Netflix pictures featuring at all at the BAFTA Film Awards. The streamer registered 23 noms in all, the most of any distributor.
9) Non-English-language film continues to crossover
“Parasite” was expected to feature in the non-English-language and perhaps some other categories. It transpires it will go up against “Joker,” “1917” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and “The Irishman” in the main best film category and hoping to repeat the success of another non-English-language entry, “Roma,” which walked away with best film last year. “Parasite” scored four noms in all.
10) BAFTA is making a difference – slowly
BAFTA rightly took a lot of flak for all-white actor noms and an all-male best director lineup. But the British Academy is pushing for change, in its membership, in the industry, and, ultimately, in the makeup of its awards. The organization has several schemes and programs designed to boost diversity and gender equality. Former Breakthrough Brits and Rising Stars including Jessie Buckley, Florence Pugh, and Taron Egerton scored noms. The hope is that as BAFTA pushes new voices to the fore, they have a platform that will result in more diversity at its Film Awards.