With the 2016 BAFTA Film Awards this coming Sunday, Callie Petch gives you a thorough rundown of the various nominees.
We are just about half a week away from the 69th British Academy Film Awards, our last stop before the 88th Academy Awards. It’s that night of the year where the (alleged) best and brightest talents of the film industry gather together under one roof in London to celebrate the past year in film, hear a bunch of awful Stephen Fry jokes that somehow keep getting worse with each passing year, and send the more discerning members of us film folk into apoplectic rages when stupid shit like Eddie Redmayne besting Jake Gyllenhaal for Best Actor happens. More importantly, it also gives those of us who have our own Oscar Betting Pools one last indicator of how things might go down on the big night at month’s end and to adjust our predictions as necessary, which is especially required this year since much of the awards are still theoretically wide open…
Or are they? Well, that’s what I’m here to help out with as, for the third year in a row (and fourth time in my writing career), I am here to guide you through all of the major categories, offering up my thoughts on who I think should win, who might actually win, and various other comments over such things as snubs or potential category frauds because I apparently love the look of my own typing. We shan’t cover everything, as we’d be here all night, but we’re gonna cover the stuff that will hopefully make you filthy rich come Monday morning when you take that Office BAFTA Betting Pool all for your greedy self. And if you follow these predictions and don’t win, well that’s your own fault for trusting a stranger on the Internet now, isn’t it? So, having already wasted a full week due to having to wait for Trumbo to come out: IT’S TIME TO MAKE SOME CA-RAY-ZEE MONEY!
Best Animated Film
Who Will Win: This, much like basically all Best Animated Film awards at all awards ceremonies the world over, is not unofficially known as “The Disney/Pixar Award” for nothing. It would be cool to see Shaun the Sheep swing in from out of nowhere and run off with the trophy whilst blowing raspberries on every direction, but this award was Inside Out’s the second it received its world premiere.
Other Notes: I complain about this every year, but it’s still worth bringing up: only three nominees? Really, BAFTA? You have to cap the animated nominations at 3? You sure you couldn’t have opened up 2 extra slots for, I dunno, basically any animated feature that came out last year and wasn’t named Strange Magic or Two By Two? Just wasn’t possible to squeeze in The Peanuts Movie, was it? Or how about The Good Dinosaur? If you can’t find 5 great animated features from the whole world in a given year, you’re not trying hard enough especially when 2015 could’ve been stocked solely with American animation.
Oh, and I recognise this isn’t the category, but not having Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow up for Best Animated Short is a complete joke, BAFTA. Sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done!
EE Rising Star Award
Nominees: John Boyega, Taron Egerton, Dakota Johnson, Brie Larson, Bel Powley
Who Should Win: I want to call category fraud on this, since she’s been acting in great movies and being superb in them for well over half a decade now, but I also don’t want to deny Brie Larson an award recognising her considerable talents. You see my dilemma.
Who Will Win: The Rising Star Award is voted on by the public and usually goes to the actor or actress with the biggest social media presence, hence why past winners include (for some reason) Adam Deacon, Shia LaBeouf and Juno Temple. It’s basically a popularity contest, which is true of all awards ceremonies but this one is based on popularity with the general public. John Boyega, for example, was just in the new Star Wars, he’s a good actor, and he’s charming as all hell, so he will be taking the statue home with him.
Other Notes: I’m rather looking forward to Eddie the Eagle, I must admit. Egerton displayed a good gift for comedy in Kingsman and I have some faith that director Dexter Fletcher won’t drown the film in excess sentimentality, so colour me hopeful for that one. Still pissed that The Diary of a Teenage Girl never got a wide release because everything I’ve heard about it makes it sound like something I’d adore. At least Bel Powley was magnetic in the otherwise drearily-dull A Royal Night Out, one of those charisma-filled performances that makes you wish she utilised those talents in something not-guff.
Outstanding British Film
Who Should Win: I keep passing it over for potential awards outside of Charlotte Rampling’s phenomenal performance purely because I still haven’t found the time (or money) to watch it again, but this is one award that 45 Years absolutely deserves to take home. It’s so far and away better than every single one of these non-Amy nominees that it’s kinda unreal, a perfect example of what British cinema is capable of when it is at its very best. It’s also on DVD and Blu-Ray now, so go! Mush! Buy it and watch it now!
Who Will Win: Out of all of the categories we’re running down here, and this includes the wide-open Best Picture race, this is actually the one I’m least confident on. We can drop The Danish Girl and The Lobster for a start – the first because it’s garbage and the second because it has absolutely no hope in Hell of winning anything – and I have the very strong feeling that 45 Years is only here to make up for its bewildering snubbing in every other category. That leaves Amy, which has received a thunderous reception from critics and the public so is The Populist Choice, Brooklyn, which was shut out of Best Picture but is (for some reason) beloved by people who vote in awards ceremonies and has been racking up BP nominations most everywhere else so is The Insider Choice, and Ex Machina, which came out last January yet managed to remain in everyone’s brains all year and is now in various awards conversations (albeit for nothing major) making it The Dark Horse.
Honestly? I think this might go to Brooklyn. Amy has Best Documentary all sewn up – because, for some reason, The Look of Silence wasn’t nominated – and I’m pretty sure that Ex Machina will take Outstanding British Debut – which is an especially hilarious bit of category fraud, since Garland has been involved in films for well over a decade, even if this was his first time directing. But Brooklyn doesn’t have any kind of consolation prize lined up for it outside of this category so my guess is that it’ll nab this as a result. Again, though, this category is so open that I have no real confidence in my prediction, this could go either way.
Other Notes: Of course BAFTA would fall for the complete trash-heap known as The Danish Girl. I mean, if we didn’t keep rewarding Tom Hooper’s offensively bland and drearily dull filmmaking, he might actually disappear from all existence, like a fucking ghost stuck in purgatory or something, and that would be just dreadful.
Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Matt Charman and Joel & Ethan Coen (Bridge of Spies), Josh Cooley and Pete Docter and Meg LeFauve (Inside Out), Alex Garland (Ex Machina), Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer (Spotlight), Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight)
Who Should Win: Oh! Hello, Inside Out! Nice to see you outside of the Animation Ghetto! I’m sorry that you’re not actually going to win a BAFTA, but awards are overrated anyway! We know who the true winner is! …it’s you, I’m talking about you.
Who Will Win: My gut says Spotlight, as the film is one of those heavy dialogue-driven pieces about noble men (and a token girl) trying their damndest to find the truth that people who vote in awards organisations love dearly, but my head says Ex Machina, as Garland is a name having a full-on breakthrough moment who has never won before and whose film is unlikely to take home anything else (excepting Debut maybe). Unfortunately, I can’t hedge my bets as you need a solid prediction that you can borrow and/or throw back at me laughing if it’s wrong. Therefore, I’m gonna go with my head (even though my gut is nearly always right) and say Garland for Ex Machina.
Other Notes: Not actually a bad list, in all honesty, even with Ex Machina doing the usual Alex Garland thing of face-planting in spectacularly disappointing fashion 2 minutes before the finish line. I’d have swapped out Ex Machina with Taylor Sheridan’s script for Sicario, even if the ending scripted is nothing like the outstanding ending that was actually filmed. Pretty sure Tarantino’s only here because it’s his birth right whenever he makes a new film or something, which is a shame as, even though it is more than a bit flabby, The Hateful Eight is a great script. The Hateful Eight deserves more love in general, really.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: Emma Donoghue (Room), Nick Hornby (Brooklyn), Adam McKay and Charles Randolph (The Big Short), Phyllis Nagy (Carol), Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs)
Who Should Win: Even in a category as stacked as this, I have to go for Sorkin’s script for Steve Jobs. I have said multiple times that I think it might be the best film script that Sorkin has ever done – so chock to the brim with quotable lines, displaying a surprising amount of self-awareness from Sorkin, and utilising its literal three-act structure in interesting ways that keep it from feeling like a gimmick – and the more I think back on my viewings of Steve Jobs, the more I believe it. So I’m rooting for Sorkin, but I won’t complain if Donoghue or Nagy or even Big Short walk away with it instead.
Who Will Win: Because Steve Jobs completely failed to make any kind of connection with the public, which is still baffling to me, everyone’s been distancing themselves from it, which I don’t get at all – if the film is great, who gives a damn if it doesn’t take with the general public – so I don’t see Sorkin taking home the statuette that is deservedly his. The Big Short, however, has been gaining a lot of buzz ever since Awards Season kicked off all those many moons ago and, since Carol stands absolutely no chance of winning anything ever, is probably going to be the one that takes home this category.
Other Notes: Extremely strong list, with the very notable exception of Nick Hornby’s simultaneously empty and ghastly-overwritten screenplay for inexplicable-critical-darling Brooklyn. I’m happy with any of these taking it, excepting Brooklyn which I’d swap out for Creed any day of the week. Yes, Creed, a film that is absent from this whole ceremony. We’ll come back to that soon.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Christian Bale as Michael Burry (The Big Short), Benicio del Toro as Alejandro (Sicario), Idris Elba as Commandant (Beasts of No Nation), Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes (Spotlight), Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel (Bridge of Spies)
Who Should Win: Holy shit, somebody actually nominated somebody in Sicario for something! Even better, that person is Benicio del Toro who puts in a fantastically subtle tour-de-force of a performance, manipulating the viewer and Kate Macer with the various different sides of his personality, slowly earning our sympathy in the process, that mask just how far across the line he’s willing to go until it’s far too late to stop him. It’s phenomenal work and he deserves a win, even if he really should be up for Best Actor instead of Supporting.
Who Will Win: With Sylvester Stallone nowhere in sight, this one is all Mark Rylance’s. Kinda surprising to me as, although he is great in Bridge of Spies, I thought that Rylance’s performance would have been too subtle and nuanced for awards recognition – this is a process, after all, that values actors who spend their time Acting as hard and as obviously as possible over those who do better, subtler work (something we’ll touch on again in two categories’ time). Glad to see I’m wrong in that respect.
Other Notes: So, when Steve Carrell’s career-best work is staring you right in the face, the Big Short performance you pick is Christian Bale’s rather broad glorified cameo? Really? It also goes without saying that I feel that Stallone should be here but we’ll touch on Creed properly in two categories’ time, so let me quickly also throw out suggestions for Seth Rogen and Jason Mitchell’s heartfelt performances in Steve Jobs and Straight Outta Compton respectively. In fact: Compton, there’s another one we’ll talk about later.
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue (The Hateful Eight), Rooney Mara as Therese Belivet (Carol), Alicia Vikander as Ava (Ex Machina), Julie Walters as Madge Kehoe (Brooklyn), Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman (Steve Jobs)
Who Should Win: Jennifer Jason Leigh, easy. Daisy, in theory, is a pretty empty character who has next-to-no agency throughout all of The Hateful Eight, somebody who really only exists to be an ineffectual punching bag for everyone else until late on in the film (which is a shame considering Tarantino’s prior history of female characters). However, Leigh’s absolutely magnetic screen presence adds so much extra depth and dimension to her character, her every sneer or reaction giving off the impression that she’s actually manipulating everyone to her advantage, and she always looks like she’s plotting even when she’s just sat eating disgusting soup. I really hope this Travoltas her career, minus the poor film choices Travolta actually made post-Pulp Fiction.
Also Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander are the goddamn leads of their respective movies and I refuse to endorse blatant category fraud.
Who Will Win: Kate Winslet has been winning or coming real close to winning most all of the Supporting Actress awards during this endless slog to the Oscars and I see no particular reason as to why that’s going to stop now, save for a last-minute Vikander shock. Hey, at least Steve Jobs is more deserving of it than The fucking Reader.
Other Notes: Really, now? Julie Walters? For Brooklyn? Really? You know, BAFTA, we probably wouldn’t make so much noise about how your awards line-up is so White that I have to wear special glasses when staring at it too long lest I go blind, if you resisted the urge to blatantly troll as hard as this. Especially since last year was a phenomenal year for women in film and you had a veritable treasure trove to choose from without resorting to this and blatant category fraud! No Mya Taylor, no Jada Pinkett Smith, no Tessa Thompson if you want to go the category fraud route, no Phyllis Smith if somebody would like to, for once, acknowledge voice work… It’s like you were actively trying to piss people off!
Nominees: Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo (Trumbo), Matt Damon as Mark Watney (The Martian), Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass (The Revenant), Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs (Steve Jobs), Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe (The Danish Girl)
Who Should Win: …are you shitting me? No, for real, is this a joke? Is this the actual list of Best Actor nominees, BAFTA? These are the best performances by men that occurred last year? You’re actually serious?! Good fucking lord, people, look at that goddamn list! The best performances (Fassbender and Cranston) are decent but not spectacular, and the rest either aren’t acting (Damon), are hollow and empty (DiCaprio), or are offensively terrible (Redmayne). Jesus fuckmothering Christ… …hmm? I guess I’m rooting for Fassbender, I don’t fucking care.
Who Will Win: DiCaprio, obviously. Duh. Hell, one could argue that this field is intentionally weak so that his awful, lifeless, empty work in the awful, lifeless, empty Revenant wouldn’t be upstaged by anyone else and he can finally get his goddamn Oscar before he kills himself trying. Y’all know that we shouldn’t be encouraging this shit, right? 1) Acting awards should go to the person who actually put in the best performance of the past year, not because they were unfairly overlooked in the past and therefore are “due” a make-up trophy for that. 2) Performances where actors or actresses put themselves through Hell yet contain no actual character work or depth do not deserve awards; they’re just as bad as performances that are purely tics and affectations lacking any soul. We might as well give the Jackass crew Oscars in that case.
Other Notes: I’m sorry, I still can’t get over how fucking atrocious this category is and how it embodies BAFTA’s White cis straight privilege so totally. Benicio del Toro should be here, not in Supporting. Jacob Tremblay was amazing in Room, why is he not here? Ryan Reynolds’ work in The Voices is 700x better than everybody nominated. Why in God’s name are we rewarding Eddie Redmayne’s borderline-offensive portrayal of a trans woman completely lacking any semblance of character with nominations? Why are we all sleeping on Samuel L. Jackson’s career-best work in The Hateful Eight? Where is anybody from Straight Outta Compton? Shameik Moore for Dope? Michael B. Jordan for Creed?
Look, I don’t think that anybody at BAFTA is an evil moustache-twirling racist looking to keep Black folk down by denying them recognition if the film they’re in isn’t related to slavery somehow. What I do think they are, though, is inadvertently ignorant. Without meaning to, they gravitate towards White Male cinema and especially Oscar Bait aimed directly at the stereotypical BAFTA member above all other cinema, and so films that don’t fit that criteria are shuffled to the bottom of the deck and most likely never make it to their eyeballs in the first place. Given the choice between a “respectable” Drama directed by the man responsible for The King’s Speech and another Rocky movie or a biopic about a gangsta rap group, they’ll go for the former every time. I’d put money on it.
And that’s why you get awards line-ups like this. BAFTA voters are not Internet forum commenters, but they’re also not aware enough of their own biases, privileges, and comfort zones to actually make any change, content instead to keep rewarding warmed-over slop because it’s what they’re comfortable with rather than try to engage with any cinema that’s not explicitly for them. And it’s going to stay that way if we don’t start making noise about this, the same scale of noise we’ve been making over “#OscarsSoWhite”. After all, these awards ceremonies unfortunately do matter – The Revenant is actually a bit of a bomb thanks to its ridiculous budget, but nobody’s saying so because of all of the awards attention it’s gotten.
Nominees: Cate Blanchett as Carol Aird (Carol), Brie Larson as Joy Newsome (Room), Saoirse Ronan as Ellis Lacey (Brooklyn), Maggie Smith as Miss Mary Shepherd (The Lady In The Van), Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener (The Danish Girl)
Who Should Win: I have always said that Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara’s work in Carol are not two separate performances but, in fact, one performance with each woman working seamlessly in tandem with each other to cultivate the sexual tension and connection that the film needs in order for it to start approaching its fullest potential. Awards bodies, however, are always so bloody insistent on having to decide who is the Lead and who is the Supporting in these things, so the pair have been split up. It feels sort of wrong for me to root for Blanchett when, again, she and Mara should be fighting for the prize together, but I guess it’ll do considering.
Who Will Win: This is Brie Larson’s year and she absolutely deserves it. She’s been due a true breakthrough for a long while, but her work in Room is absolutely the best work of her storied career so far so I won’t have any complaints at all when she picks up the statuette on Sunday night.
Other Notes: Other than the excess Whiteness of the nominee list, I don’t really have any complaints here. Unlike with the Actor offerings, this past year was an embarrassment of riches for actresses and I don’t envy anybody who has to chop that field down to just five. I think Charlotte Rampling absolutely needed to have been in there, and I would love to have seen Emily Blunt up there for Sicario, but otherwise I can’t really complain. I mean, once you swap out Ronan – who is let down by the film around her, ditto Tom Hardy in Legend – and (arguably) Smith for Rampling and Blunt, how else do you fit in Amy Schumer, Melissa McCarthy, Tessa Thompson, Charlize Theron, Rinko Kikuchi, Amy Poehler, Nina Hoss…
Nominees: Todd Haynes (Carol), Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant), Adam McKay (The Big Short), Ridley Scott (The Martian), Steven Spielberg (Bridge of Spies)
Who Should Win: I am still in awe of Todd Haynes’ work on Carol. If I had the time at the time, I would have written a long piece about how Carol succeeds where The Danish Girl fails – they both, in theory, have very similar themes – because Haynes shoots and directs Carol with a Queer eye and a Queer sensibility whereas Tom Hooper shoots and directs The Danish Girl with a Straight eye and a Straight sensibility… but, well, you know that I don’t have any time anymore. Hell, I don’t even have the time to be writing this, yet I’m doing so anyway. Anyways: Haynes all the way.
Who Will Win: I still don’t think he’s going to go over at the Oscars, because almost nobody has won the Best Director gong two years in a row, but I am pretty confident that Alejandro G. Iñárritu is going over here, as Linklater won over him last year so the “repeat winner” factor isn’t an issue. If that doesn’t happen, then my next best guess is McKay who I have this weird feeling is going to take home the Oscar come month’s end.
Other Notes: Swap out Iñárritu for Denis Villenueve’s work with Sicario, or George Miller’s work on Mad Max: Fury Road, or Marjane Satrapi’s work on The Voices and you’ll have a list free of any complaints from me. Seriously, The Revenant is boring soulless garbage, folks, and Iñárritu’s “ooh, look at me, I can do long takes and make fancy schmancy ‘important’ movies, la de da di da” directing style for this film is actively grating. Get on the right side of history.
Nominees: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Carol, The Revenant, Spotlight
Who Should Win: Go and re-read my bit on Carol on my Top 20 Films list.
Who Will Win: Now that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Time was this Spotlight’s award to lose, but buzz has died down significantly on it since it came out. That buzz has instead been soaked up The Big Short which has somehow come out of nowhere – and I’m not just talking about awards, the quality of this one came out of nowhere for me, even though it’s by Adam McKay so I really should have seen it coming – to become the frontrunner to beat. But The Revenant took the Drama Golden Globe and that’s important because Birdman wasn’t even nominated there, last year, and that acts like a make-up award, which gives Revenant a shot here at the BAFTAs because Boyhood went over Birdman last year. And there’s also always the chance that Bridge of Spies may sneak in out of nowhere, although I’m more confident that that and Carol are going to be the nomination hogs that don’t leave with anything…
The race really is that wide-open. I could genuinely see all but Carol taking the prize. But, gun to my head, I’m gonna have to firmly predict… Revenant. It has the buzz, Birdman was shut out for all but Cinematography here last year, and it’s the exact kind of boring, empty picture that nonetheless carries the veneer of respectability and “importance” that institutions like BAFTA love. So, there, I’m guessing The Revenant. Don’t hold it against me if I’m wrong, though.
Other Notes: Keep Big Short and Carol, replace the rest with any combination of the following: Inside Out, Creed, Mad Max: Fury Road, Sicario, The Look of Silence. Or, you know, just copy and paste my fantasy booking, whichever works.
There’s the rundown. The BAFTAs take place on February 14th. If you have any insights or predictions, drop them in the comments below!