Predicting the BAFTA awards

Posted by · 5:44 pm · February 9th, 2013

Tomorrow night’s BAFTA Awards are the last televised stop on the awards calendar before the Oscars, and in a year where several key races remain unsettled, they’ll be watched even more eagerly than usual by awards pundits. (Well, “followed” if not “watched” — I, for one, won’t have access to the live broadcast of the show, annually shown on a quaint tape-delay system that suggests the BBC hasn’t quite got to grips yet with a little thing called the internet. But I digress.)

Like the Academy, the BAFTA voters lavished attention on an apparent frontrunner, only to undermine it by eliminating it from the Best Director race. The difference, of course, is that the British and American groups dealt this backhand to different films. Where the Oscars left Ben Affleck (as a director, at least) out of the party, the Brits decided Steven Spieberg could afford to sit this one out, despite handing “Lincoln” a field-leading 10 nominations. This truly is the season of mixed signals.

Spielberg’s omission is only semi-surprising — “Lincoln” has enjoyed a respectable commercial and critical reception in the UK, but it’s obviously far from the phenomenon it was Stateside. Still, some might put it down to the BAFTAs’ new voting system system this year which, like the Academy, finds the Best Director nominees determined by a comparatively small chapter (ie. branch) of the voting group. BAFTA used to allow all members to vote in all categories at the nomination stage, determining the winners through branch-specific voting — a process that has resulted in some quirky choices over the years.

By flipping the system, the awards are falling even further in line with the Oscars — and we’ll find out tomorrow if the change results in more predictable consensus frontrunners winning than usual. 

In any event, BAFTA embraced “Argo” wholeheartedly, shocking onlookers by adding a Best Actor nod for Ben Affleck (his first and only individual acting mention of the season.) Though “Life of Pi” — a genuine box office story in the UK — seemed to be surging around the time of the nominations, I’ve a feeling BAFTA will follow the lead of the Globes and the Guilds by crowning Affleck’s tidy Hollywood thriller. Whether across-the-pond affection for Affleck runs deep enough to secure him Best Director into the bargain remains to be seen. BAFTA splits the Best Film and Best Director prizes rather more often than the Academy, but that again, was likely a result of the chapter voting — I expect we might see less spreading of the wealth than usual.

Still, if Ang Lee manages to sneak past Ben Affleck tomorrow night to win his third Best Director BAFTA, this very unusual race could get even harder to read. With nine nominations and impressive local box office, “Life of Pi” feels due more than just a technical award or two, and could even be a spoiler in the Best Film race too. Of course, if commercial clout were a consideration for these voters, UK box office record-holder “Skyfall” would have been nominated in the top race — as it stands, I predict it’ll receive the consolation prize of Best British Film. Best Film nominee “Les Mis” would logically be the favorite there, though I sense that film’s momentum has slowed enough for a so-called “upset” to strike here.

Other things to look out for tomorrow: Can Emmanuelle Riva add fuel to her Oscar campaign with a win for Best Actress? Given that US favorite Jennifer Lawrence’s film hasn’t really connected with British audiences and scored a mere pair of Oscar nods, I like Riva’s chances. Will the Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score races — which mirrored the Academy’s choices 5/5 — also foretell the Oscar winner? And can “Frankenweenie” get ahead with a win in a Best Animated Feature lineup where, conveniently enough, “Wreck-It Ralph” was watching.

Anyway, all will be revealed soon enough. Until then, here are my best guesses as to what will win in each BAFTA film category — and what should. You can remind yourself of the nominees at The Circuit.

Best Film
Will win: “Argo”
Should win: “Zero Dark Thirty”

Best British Film
Will and should win: “Skyfall”

Best Director
Will win: Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”
Should win: Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”

Best Actor
Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
Should win: Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”

Best Actress
Will and should win: Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”

Best Supporting Actor
Will and should win: Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”

Best Supporting Actress
Will win: Anne Hathaway, “Les Misérables” 
Should win: Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”

Best Original Screenplay
Will win: “Amour”
Should win: “The Master”

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will win: “Argo”
Should win: “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Foreign Language Film
Will win: “Amour”
Should win: “Rust and Bone”

Best Documentary
Will and should win: “The Imposter”

Best Animated Film
Will and should win: “Frankenweenie”

Best Cinematography
Will and should win: “Skyfall”

Best Production Design
Will and should win: “Anna Karenina”

Best Costume Design
Will and should win: “Anna Karenina”

Best Film Editing
Will win: “Argo”
Should win: “Zero Dark Thirty”

Best Makeup and Hair
Will win: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Should win: “Anna Karenina”

Best Original Score
Will win: “Anna Karenina”
Should win: “Argo”

Best Sound
Will win: “Skyfall”
Should win: “Django Unchained”

Best Visual Effects
Will and should win: “Life of Pi”

Best Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
Will win: Bart Layton and Dimitri Doganis, “The Imposter”

Rising Star Award
Will win: Suraj Sharma
Should win: Elizabeth Olsen

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