Previewing BAFTA

Posted by · 2:15 am · February 12th, 2011

In the 10 years since they moved up in the calendar to pre-Oscar status, the BAFTAs have hovered uncertainly between complying with awards trends across the pond, thereby establishing themselves as a viable precursor, and stubbornly standing by their own – as in 2007, when they opted out of the Coen Brothers-P.T. Anderson faceoff by picking “Atonement,” despite the film’s only other award coming for Best Art Direction.

This year, however, offers them the best of both worlds. Rewarding “The King’s Speech” will simultaneously allow them to co-sign a heavy Oscar favourite and preserve their national pride.

Add in the fact that a vote for the film also represents a vote for the much-mourned UK Film Council – oh, and that it just happens to be a smash hit with British audiences – and the royal biopic would likely have been a lock for the top prize even without the support of major US guilds.

(More, plus predictions, after the jump.)

How much of a sweep should we expect, however? Certainly, the last time all the abovementioned stars aligned for BAFTA voters – with “Slumdog Millionaire,” two years ago – the film cleaned up, taking seven awards. But such one-sided evenings occur less frequently here than they do at the Oscars. For one thing, BAFTA is far less reluctant to split Best Film and Best Director than AMPAS: the two awards have gone to the same film only 9 times in the last 20 years.

Meanwhile, BAFTA’s craft awards can be highly unpredictable – largely because, in a reversal of the Oscar voting process, the winners in these categories are determined by the relevant individual branch, with the nominees chosen by the general votership. It’s a process that has allowed for such idiosyncratic results as “Mulholland Drive” for Best Editing or “Vera Drake” for Best Costume Design, though disappointingly, they seem to have become more conformist in recent years.

This is a long way of saying that, while I expect a handsome haul for George VI and company, there’s plenty of room for other films to muscle in on the action. For example, David Fincher looks well positioned to extend the awards’ history of film-director splits, even if Tom Hooper is a local son; it’s worth noting that BAFTA denied two British directors of Best Film winners, Anthony Minghella and Sam Mendes, in the year of the Oscar victories.

The acting races, of course, are where most keen-eyed Oscar-watchers will be looking for signals. As we discussed on yesterday’s podcast, the ceremony’s late position in the awards calendar means they occasionally reflect underlying shifts in momentum that may or may not be silently brewing across the pond: recently, semi-surprise Oscar wins for Alan Arkin, Marion Cotillard and Tilda Swinton were all presaged by BAFTA.

Only one of the four categories can be taken to the bank: no prizes for predicting that the all-but-ordained Colin Firth will scoop his second consecutive Best Actor BAFTA tomorrow night. One, meanwhile, can be discounted as an Oscar bellwether: Helena Bonham-Carter will probably add a Best Supporting Actress award to “The King’s Speech”’s total, but with three of her Oscar rivals out of the running (Jacki Weaver ineligible, Hailee Steinfeld in lead and Melissa Leo curiously unnominated), there’s not much to be gleaned from the result.

Welshman Christian Bale will likely continue his streak in Supporting Actor, but Geoffrey Rush should not be discounted: he previously benefited from the Brits’ fondness for the Best Film frontrunner with a win for “Shakespeare in Love.”

The real race to watch, however, is Best Actress. “Black Swan” has been a ubiquitous presence (and hot talking-point) in the UK for the past month, and has a whopping 12 BAFTA nominations to show for it, so it’s logical to assume Natalie Portman will add yet another trophy to her cabinet here. Annette Bening’s upset win at Thursday’s London Critics’ Circle awards, however, has got me wondering.

Ostensibly just a meaningless critics’ prize (and Portman didn’t rule the critics’ circuit in the US, either), it still signifies that the divisive nature of “Black Swan” is a potential obstacle for the younger actress. I’m not gutsy enough to predict the upset, but it wouldn’t surprise me – and if Bening pulls it off, well, watch out.

Finally, a word on the one category I feel confident betting the house on “The King’s Speech” not winning: Best British Film. That may sound illogical – if a British film is the favorite for the big prize, how can it not be the Best British Film too? – but year after year, pundits forget that this particular award is determined by a small jury who know the state of the race. Instead of adding a pointless laurel to a dominant film, they tend to use the award to spotlight more left-field and/or independent British filmmaking.

So it is that “An Education” lost to “Fish Tank” last year, “Slumdog Millionaire” to “Man on Wire” in 2008, “Atonement” to “This is England” in 2007, and so on. If “Four Lions” or “Another Year” pull out the win over Tom Hooper’s film tomorrow night, the only “surprise” will be that pundits insist on calling it one.

And with that, here are my predictions and preferences in each category. Feel free to share your own in the comments. I probably won’t be around to watch it myself, but enjoy the show.

Best Film
Will win: “The King’s Speech”
Should win: “Black Swan”

Best British Film
Will win: “Four Lions”
Should win: “Another Year”

Best Director
Will win: David Fincher, “The Social Network”
Should win: Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”

Best Actor
Will win: Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
Should win: Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”

Best Actress
Will win: Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Should win: Julianne Moore, “The Kids Are All Right”

Best Supporting Actor
Will and should win: Christian Bale, “The Fighter”

Best Supporting Actress
Will win: Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”
Should win: Lesley Manville, “Another Year”

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will and should win: “The Social Network”

Best Original Screenplay
Will win: “The King’s Speech”
Should win: “The Kids Are All Right”

Best Foreign Language Film
Will win: “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
Should win: ”I Am Love”

Best Animated Film
Will win: “Toy Story 3″
Should win: “How To Train Your Dragon”

Best Cinematography
Will and should win: “Black Swan”

Best Production Design
Will win: “True Grit”
Should win “Black Swan”

Best Costume Design
Will win: “The King’s Speech”
Should win: “Black Swan”

Best Editing
Will win: “The Social Network”
Should win: “Black Swan”

Best Make Up & Hair
Will and should win: “Black Swan”

Best Original Music
Will and should win: “Inception”

Best Sound
Will win: “Inception”
Should win: “Black Swan”

Best Special Visual Effects
Will and should win: “Inception”

Rising Star Award
Will win: Gemma Arterton
Should win: Tom Hardy

Carl Foreman Award (best debut by a British writer, director or producer)
Will and should win: Gareth Edwards, “Monsters”

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29 responses so far

  • 1 2-12-2011 at 2:27 am

    Brook said...

    I have to say, despite me not being wowed by her performance, Helena Bonham-Carter would give a hell of an acceptance speech.

  • 2 2-12-2011 at 5:02 am

    Andrej said...

    I’m not so sure they’ll miss out on Inception for editing, especially after reading how each branch votes only at its own category at the BAFTA. I think they’d go for the flashier, more complex work, despite the Oscar snub.

  • 3 2-12-2011 at 5:06 am

    Gareth Thomas said...

    I actually like that the branches decide the winners because in that way you avoid rediculous sweeps, so thumbs up to BAFTA and I hope AMPAS changes its rules (never going to happen).

  • 4 2-12-2011 at 5:07 am

    lily said...

    for the last two years, i completely agree with you on this except for the rising star award. i think garfield will win here, as this is voted on by the public (like kristen stewart winning over jesse eisenberg and carey mulligan last year). but tom hardy all the way!

  • 5 2-12-2011 at 5:11 am

    Manuel L. said...

    What are your thoughts on Lesley Manville’s chances?
    Based on her performance alone, she must be a major threat, right?

  • 6 2-12-2011 at 5:14 am

    loveantinoo said...

    Too bad Javier Bardem can’t be there, as Goya awards are the same night. Film academies should agree in a calendar.

  • 7 2-12-2011 at 5:26 am

    JJ1 said...

    I, too, am fascinated by what will happen with HBC/Manville.

    HBC seems like the obvious choice, and I believe she wasn’t won a BAFTA before.

    But they obviously love Manville and … come on … the performance is power house. Such a great race, there.

    Spoiler could be Amy Adams.

  • 8 2-12-2011 at 6:29 am

    Freddy Ardanza said...

    “Should win: Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network””….WTF?….Esenberg give an overrated performance in a mega-overrated film.

  • 9 2-12-2011 at 7:42 am

    Alex in Movieland said...

    actually, Guy,

    Geoffrey Rush won that year for Elizabeth, not for Shakespeare… even though he was nominated for both :)

  • 10 2-12-2011 at 7:54 am

    Graysmith said...

    It’d be interesting if Amy Adams won for Best Supporting Actress. I can’t let go of the notion that Adams could pull an upset at the Oscars, and seeing as she is only one of three BAFTA nominees for the film that has to be a sign of strength and support for her. If she managed a BAFTA win I’d nearly go so far to say that she’ll win the Oscar too, but even if she doesn’t I still think she could very well pull it off.

    Leo’s frontrunner status is fading following her faux pas, and while many (like Ebert, Kris and Anne) seem to hedge their bets on Steinfeld to upset, she’s still a kid and they rarely win.

    On the other hand, you have Amy Adams who many felt gave the better supporting actress performance in The Fighter, who pulled off a BAFTA nomination even though the film didn’t do that well otherwise, and who, as Scott Feinberg points out, has joined a group of only seven other women who managed three supporting actress nominations in six years.. And all but two of them won an Oscar (Ritter and Close).

    Barring a BAFTA win, it’s probably going to be a longshot at best.. But it really wouldn’t surprise me if it happened.

  • 11 2-12-2011 at 8:18 am

    JJ1 said...

    Regarding Oscars, Supporting Actress is so wacky. Leo has won everything. I thought she was good. But I always thought Adams was better; and would have been winning everything that Leo has been. Then Leo isn’t even nommed by the Brits. Throw in an underplayed, but overdue HBC, Steinfeld (with cateogry confusion), & Weaver, and I don’t have a friggin’ clue where it’s all headed.

    Even if Adams wins Supporting at BAFTAs, I wonder if it’s too late.

  • 12 2-12-2011 at 8:19 am

    Mike M. said...

    These predictions look spot-on, but I think Lesley Manville will win over Helena Bonham Carter. She has a much larger, more dramatic role, and BAFTA occasionally rewards performances that are not Oscar-nominated.

  • 13 2-12-2011 at 8:38 am

    Afrika said...

    ” though disappointingly, they seem to have become more conformist in recent years.”

    I don’t get this “hipster mentality” sometimes. Being conformist isn’t always a bad thing. The Hurt Locker, for example, was an effective and wildly entertaining war movie. Did people want Avatar to win? *scratches head*

    You are trying to see patterns where patterns don’t exist. There is no buzz for Amy Adams. If someone is going to pull an upset, it will Helena Bonham Carter.

  • 14 2-12-2011 at 10:03 am

    Tom said...

    I think Moore being nominated in the same category is a deathwish for Bening, with whom I think she’ll definitely take votes from. I think second in line after Portman might actually be Steinfeld.

  • 15 2-12-2011 at 10:06 am

    Graysmith said...


    Yes, as if there is so much buzz and so many things pointing towards HBC winning. *rolls eyes*

  • 16 2-12-2011 at 10:08 am

    Anita said...

    Should win: Tom Hardy? Not Emma Stone?

  • 17 2-12-2011 at 10:10 am

    julian said...

    I agree with you 100%, Tom! Moore will cancel Bening out and Steinfeld is the real runner-up in this race.
    Amy Adams is not going to win the Oscar in supp actress…a BAFTA will be too little too late (and frankly, up against HBC and Manville on British soil, she doesn’t stand a chance there either).
    A win for HBC at the BAFTAs, though, will make supp actress a three horse race at the Oscars! That could make for an exciting evening, yet, I still feel this is Manville’s to lose. She is so good in that part and so close to a lead, that she is going to be tough to ignore (even with all the TKS love in the house).

  • 18 2-12-2011 at 11:40 am

    Afrika said...

    I disagree with Moore canceling out Bening. The inclusion of Moore shows stronger support for The Kids Are All Right. The voters already know Bening is the frontrunner so I doubt , so the votes will be coming to her not Moore.

    Who said anything about buzz pointing towards Ms. Carter? yes! she doesn’t have a ton of buzz but her chances are a lot more realistic than that scenario you were struggling to put together for Amy Adams LMAO!!!

  • 19 2-12-2011 at 12:38 pm

    ann said...

    I don’t know about david fincher winning best director, it seem like the social network will be similar to departed at the bafta (I’m not even confident about adapted screenplay). I’m not sure about tom hooper winning either, as bafta don’t like to award new directors. The best comparison would be sam mendes, won every director awards, but still lost the bafta. I’ve noticed their like award auteur, so I think it’s between Nolan and Darren Aronofsky.

  • 20 2-12-2011 at 1:07 pm

    ryan said...

    I’m wondering… what would do more damage to The King’s Speech’s momentum when it comes to Best Director if Tom Hooper doesn’t win at the BAFTAs. (Note: I mean in non-Best Picture and Colin Firth categories, haha)

    Would a David Fincher win mirror the Polanski situation of 2002? Because then Fincher could possibly take the director prize at the Oscars. And since, Social Network is positioned to take editing and True Grit for cinematography… does that weaken The King’s Speech in other below-the-line categories?

    If Christopher Nolan wins, does that put him in the mind of the voters when it comes to Original Screenplay? Which that puts art direction and score at risk for The King’s Speech… and in a way, gives Fincher an edge for director.

    Actually… what’s people’s thoughts on score? I feel like that’s been getting overlooked, since Social Network lost its love and no one really talks about The King’s Speech’s score.

  • 21 2-12-2011 at 1:45 pm

    sam said...

    amy adams would have to win the bafta to show if she has any strength with winning the oscar and i hope she does win. don’t the academy and bafta members overlap some?

  • 22 2-12-2011 at 2:22 pm

    Aaron said...

    If there’s a really huge upset at BAFTA, it’s going to be Hailee Steinfeld winning best actress. I know it’s highly unlikely, but if it does, then the Academy can go ahead an engrave her supporting actress Oscar.

  • 23 2-12-2011 at 2:35 pm

    JJ1 said...

    What makes you think that Steinfeld winning in Actress would position her for win in Supporting (espesh if the Brits think she’s Lead anyway).

    If HBC wins the BAFTA, I think she comes through as a bigger threat to Leo than anyone. We just don’t know the undercurrents.

    Aside from SAG, which she lost, I don’t see anything pointing to a Steinfeld win right now.

    I just don’t. Nothing other than her being a potential spoiler and a charming youngster with the press.

    I see Steinfeld, Adams, and HBC on an even keel. All 3 have been nommed (in the industry awards), all 3 lost to Leo.

  • 24 2-12-2011 at 2:40 pm

    JJ1 said...

    I didn’t mean that to sound, assy, Aaron. Reading it back, it comes across that way, and that wasn’t my tone. I just don’t necessarily think that Steinfeld winning BAFTA Lead would make much of an impression at the Oscars. Just my opinion. :)

  • 25 2-12-2011 at 8:21 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    I don’t get the support for the little girl. Do her supporters here believe she gave the best female performance of the year in either category?

    I’m rooting for Helena and Annette at both the Oscars and the BAFTAs.

  • 26 2-12-2011 at 11:14 pm

    j said...

    Oh I did not know that most Bafta winners are chosen by the branch. I suppose that indeed would hurt the chances of a king’s sweep.

  • 27 2-13-2011 at 12:59 am

    Stephen Holt said...

    Props to Guy. Really enjoy his sharp, smart writing, esp. on this topie.

    Me I’ve always felt Helena Bonham-Carter was going to do a Tilda, as they say, and come from behind and win both BAFTA as you predict, and the Oscar, too. Everything points to an upset in this wild category this year. Best Supporting Actress I mean.

    And when confused AMPAS voters look to the Brits. Or more specifically to the BAFTAS. Each year their importance and influence grows…

  • 28 2-13-2011 at 9:34 am

    Afrika said...

    Mr. Holt, I couldn’t agree more.

  • 29 2-13-2011 at 3:49 pm

    JJ1 said...

    I, too, agree with Mr. Holt.