Why some BAFTA winners shouldn’t get their hopes up

Posted by · 11:50 am · February 17th, 2011

A number of people asked about the BAFTA outcome in our solicitation for Oscar Talk queries this week. We’ll be discussing last weekend’s awards on the show, but I thought I’d address those questions separately here.

A sample:

With the BAFTA below-the-line awards not all going to The King’s Speech (even things like Art Direction and Costume), as expected, is the extremely well-covered supposed sweep of the film still holding strong?

My answer: Yes, it is. Something the BAFTA does (which, frankly, the Academy should do, but more on that in a moment) is relegate all categories except Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Film and the acting fields to branch-specific voting. That means production designers decided that “Inception” deserved to win Best Production Design at BAFTA, costume designers decided that “Alice in Wonderland” deserved to win Best Costume Design and, indeed, directors decided David Fincher deserved to win Best Director.

Similarly, in the wake of (certainly impressive) guild wins by “Inception” as of late, some are wondering if the races for Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography are closer than we all thought. But again, this is specialized voting. The key, as always, is understanding the Academy’s process.

To recap, outside of the foreign, documentary and short film races (accounting for five categories), the entire membership of the Academy is voting for winners. So art directors are deciding what deserves Best Sound Editing. Sound editors are deciding what wins Bet Art Direction. It’s all one big pot with some takes on this or that race being educated ones, others, not so much.

I’ve always felt the Academy should adopt BAFTA’s system. There’s a reason a guy like Greg P. Russell has been waiting for years to win an Oscar while putting out quality work as a sound mixer (much of it award-worthy). He more often works on films that aren’t exactly Oscar bait, and the Academy at large just isn’t going to think “Transformers” deserves an award no matter how pristine and complex its sound mix is (not that most of them know from good sound mixing in the first place). They’ll spring for the film they liked better, a respected actioner, and voila, “The Bourne Ultimatum” is an Oscar winner.

Circling back to my original point, I wouldn’t put a lot of stock into the below-the-line categories at BAFTA when it comes to anticipating the Oscars this year. The same goes for Fincher’s Best Director win, which a number of people thought signaled some life in that field. When everyone has a voice, expertise goes out the window and it’s all about what they liked the most.

So a dominant showing for “The King’s Speech” throughout the categories is still very much your most likely scenario.

[Photo: The Weinstein Company]

→ 26 Comments Tags: , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

26 responses so far

  • 1 2-17-2011 at 12:31 pm

    Adam said...

    “When everyone has a voice, expertise goes out the window and it’s all about what they liked the most.”

    After all, everyone ‘finding their voice’ would seem to favor The King’s Speech, no? (wink).

  • 2 2-17-2011 at 12:34 pm

    Gareth Thomas said...

    This is what I’ve ALWAYS thought about the Oscars. They are supposed to be awards given by the winners’ peers. A Costume Designer’s peers do not include Sound Editors. It’s crazy.

    It’s the one thing I do really like about the BAFTAs and it avoids rediculous sweeps.

    Change the rules AMPAS, you know you want to!

  • 3 2-17-2011 at 12:55 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Adam: Glad you picked up on that. :)

  • 4 2-17-2011 at 1:16 pm

    Patryk said...

    Why aren’t the acting awards also branch-specific? I would think Actors know Acting better than Costume Designers or Sound Editors.

    At least they have the below-the-line voting methodology right.

  • 5 2-17-2011 at 1:17 pm

    Manuel L. said...

    I do think Fincher has a more than decent shot at the Oscar, but mostly because I believe some King’s Speech supporters will still vote for him instead of Hooper, and the Black Swan/True Grit/The Fighter backers who split their vote are more likely to vote for Fincher, IMO.
    And finally, I think there will be very few members who vote for TSN and someone other than Fincher for Best Director. So when all is said and done, Fincher takes it, but barely, since there will probably be A LOT of voters who go for the King’s Speech/Hooper ticket.

  • 6 2-17-2011 at 1:56 pm

    Alejandro said...

    Kris, don’t you think this year is like the Chicago/The Pianist year? Chicago was a well-liked movie (won 6 Oscars), but Polanski won directing. Besides, I don’t think the only thing The Social Network is going to win is Screenplay (and MAYBE editing). I’m sticking with Ficnher.

  • 7 2-17-2011 at 2:09 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I don’t, because David Fincher in 2011 without an Oscar is a LOT different than Roman Polanski in 2002 without an Oscar, not to mention all the campaigning Nicholson was doing on behalf of the latter.

    The King’s Speech is much more well-loved than Chicago was, too.

  • 8 2-17-2011 at 2:20 pm

    tom said...

    It might be pointed out that BAFTA’s tech winners have done a pretty good job of forecasting AMPAS’ choices recently despite that different voting system. It’d be odd that it suddenly ceased to be predictive now. You don’t want to dismiss data simply because it doesn’t match the current narrative.

    As much as Social Network enthusiasts overplayed their hand early in the season, I’d say King’s Speech folk need to be careful not to fall into the same trap.

  • 9 2-17-2011 at 2:25 pm

    j said...

    Yeah, and Fincher doesn’t have a previous Chinatown that won Actor/Director at Baftas & Director/Actor/Drama at Globes.

  • 10 2-17-2011 at 2:25 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “You don’t want to dismiss data simply because it doesn’t match the current narrative.”

    Actually, that’s EXACTLY when you want to dismiss data. What matters is now, not what has historically been the case.

    But your last point is well taken. Not that I’m a TKS enthusiast (I’m not), but I have gotten the sense that it’s been too much too fast for the film this month and last, much like it was for TSN in December.

  • 11 2-17-2011 at 2:36 pm

    Loyal said...

    I can’t believe it’s been just 27 days since The King’s Speech won the PGA.

  • 12 2-17-2011 at 2:52 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I can’t believe it’s been that long, actually.

  • 13 2-17-2011 at 3:07 pm

    Jeremy said...

    Here’s my issue Kris: You aren’t a sound mixer. Yet you’re capable of discerning high-quality sound design from mediocre sound design. I’m not disputing your credentials (or your opinion), just pointing out that smart, knowledgeable people involved with the movie business should in theory be able to make informed decisions about various branches of cinema, not just their own narrow areas of expertise.

    Of course, perhaps I’m being naive in suggesting that the Academy is comprised of smart, knowledgeable people, but I’m not sure I can support restricting members’ voting based on their resume.

  • 14 2-17-2011 at 3:56 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Key words: “in theory.” I also went to film school and learned plenty about sound design while I was there. And, of course, I make my living writing about film in some detail.

    Someone who may have started out with an interest in clothing and ended up a costume designer in the film business doesn’t necessarily have a similar path.

    Now, I don’t mean to be sweeping with this generalization. But the proof is rather in the pudding when you look throughout the years.

    It ought to be argued about critics, too, for that matter. Dustin Hoffman once told me he thinks filmmakers should be critics, or that critics should at least know what it is they’re critiquing beyond some abstract idea of a film’s artistic value. I think it’s a fair point.

  • 15 2-17-2011 at 4:15 pm

    Craig said...

    I think Fincher’s still got a shot, so much that I’m still not sure which way I want to send my best director prediction. Do I play it safe and go with Hooper, or do I predict a split which, if it happens, could help me win a few pools?

  • 16 2-17-2011 at 4:37 pm

    DarkLayers said...

    On the should note, Mark Harris recently suggested branch voting too. Though ampas and bafta matched in many areas last year.

  • 17 2-17-2011 at 4:44 pm

    Scott Coleman said...

    lol at adam’s comment

  • 18 2-17-2011 at 4:56 pm

    Nelson said...


    Where did you go to film school?

  • 19 2-17-2011 at 5:40 pm

    Tom said...

    The BAFTAs gave Slumdog 7 awards and the Oscars gave them 8. The only difference was that the BAFTAs don’t have a song award.

    Is there as much love in the Academy for The King’s Speech as there was for Slumdog Millionaire?

  • 20 2-17-2011 at 5:50 pm

    Jeremy said...

    Regarding the Hoffman comment, I have to disagree. I don’t think critics should have to meet some sort of objective standard or have to acquire any sort of license in order to properly evaluate cinema. Especially when you consider that movies are typically made for the public at large, I have no problem with an outsider to the industry offering an opinion on a movie’s subjective value. Otherwise you’re just making the entire industry way too insular.

  • 21 2-17-2011 at 6:09 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Nelson: North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA, as it’s now called).

    “I have no problem with an outsider to the industry offering an opinion on a movie’s subjective value.”

    Fair enough. I feel the same way. But shouldn’t you then lend the same consideration to Lisa Schwarzbaum’s opinion, for instance, that you do the guy who works at the video store?

  • 22 2-17-2011 at 6:09 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “Is there as much love in the Academy for The King’s Speech as there was for Slumdog Millionaire?”

    I’d say at least as much.

  • 23 2-17-2011 at 6:15 pm

    Jeremy said...

    “But shouldn’t you then lend the same consideration to Lisa Schwarzbaum’s opinion, for instance, that you do the guy who works at the video store?”

    I suppose it depends how well the opinion is articulated. I disagree with A.O. Scott probably have the time, but I consider him the best critic in the country because he’s a tremendous writer, and I can always follow the rationale he has in forming his opinion. (Manhola Dargis is another story.) So for me, persuasiveness turns perhaps as much on communicative skills as it does on inherent knowledge of filmmaking, though there’s obviously a minimum baseline for both.

  • 24 2-17-2011 at 6:20 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Nevertheless, I don’t think it’s insular or elitist to think that those who do something are probably better suited to critique it.

  • 25 2-17-2011 at 7:18 pm

    brian said...

    Kris, did you go to UNCSA at the same time as David Gordon Greene?

  • 26 2-19-2011 at 11:13 am

    Adam K. said...

    I still think it’s rather misguided to think the directors’ race isn’t close when one person has won the DGA and the other has won literally EVERYTHING else: not just critics’ awards, but BFCA, GG, BAFTA. Hooper has won one award. Fincher has won dozens.

    I think the DGA in general is a better indication of best picture than best director. It’s voted on by lots of TV directors, etc. who are more mainstream (and Hooper is one of them), and they only have one category in which to pick their favorite film. I really think it’ll be close between Fincher and Hooper when TKS fans have lots of other categories to give it their love.