The 71st Annual British Academy Film Awards are this Sunday, so it is once again time to run down the nominees.
This Sunday, the 71st BAFTA awards for Film will take place, marking the last major stop on the Awards Tour train before the Oscars at the beginning of March, whereupon this whole endless goddamn slog of an Awards Season will finally come to an end. Objectively, this is the weirdest Awards Season line-up in years – with only one true slice of Oscar Bait (Darkest Hour), and the next closest being a Christopher Nolan movie and a film featuring prominent fishman-fucking – but with the ceaseless, uniform, and seemingly ever-lengthening trudge towards the Oscars having gone on since early December, it’s hard to work up the excitement about it all. After all, “oh my God, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is an awards frontrunner somehow!” loses its shock when the same thing happens at EVERY awards ceremony over four endless months.
Still, though, we’re almost there, and I’m here to sort through the good, the bad, and the BAFTA of this year’s nominations list. Just like in the previous four years that I’ve been doing this – WHAT EVEN IS TIME ANYMORE – I’ll be running down the major categories, telling you who should win, who will win, and any additional snubs and commentary that I have to add. It’s a proven formula, just like my predictions, which you can take to the bank given that I have a record of 25-12 in correct predictions over the years! But, before we get into the meat of proceedings, we need to address the elephant in the room…
The Elephant in the Room
I, Tonya and Lady Bird should not be up for any awards, and I’d even push that declaration to include nominee-leader The Shape of Water. I don’t mean this in terms of subjective quality, particularly since I still have not seen Lady Bird, but then that’s the problem. I, Tonya does not release to the British public until next Friday, almost a full week after the ceremony itself has concluded. Lady Bird is supposedly in UK cinemas this Friday, but (at time of writing) unless you live in London with access to three of the most prestigious arthouse cinemas in the country, you get to eat shit for at least another week. Shape of Water releases on Valentine’s Day, which is actually pretty clever in all honesty, but takes the piss out of the eligibility dates so much that I want to disqualify it out of spite. By BAFTA’s own eligibility rules, any films submitted for awards consideration that didn’t have a UK release in 2017 must have been screened to the public by February 16th of 2018. It’s a loophole that they abuse every single year in order to make sure that their awards line up with the rest of Awards Season – kind of like how all American music festivals each year are now basically just very slight variations on that year’s Coachella line-up – but recently they’ve started chipping away at it to such an extent that they’ve broken their own rules.
Remember how Moonlight was nominated last year despite not officially opening in the UK until the week after the ceremony? Remember in 2015 when Julianne Moore was nominated for Still Alice despite that film not releasing in the UK until a month after the ceremony in THE MIDDLE OF GODDAMN MARCH?! If you want to get technical, Lady Bird will screen to a segment of the general public before the clock tips over to the 17th, and I, Tonya had a Cineworld Unlimited preview screening at the start of February which means that a small group of the general public have technically had the film screened to them, but it all still reeks of bullshit. Especially since over half of this year’s Best Film Not in the English Language nominees are made up of 2016 films that didn’t get UK releases until early 2017 and, consequently, were Oscar nominees in 2017. So, are we or are we not going to respect the arbitrary and anti-consumer mess that are UK release window disparities? Does this mean that La La Land could have been eligible for this year’s awards instead of last year’s if the producers had waited to submit – since any film released to the UK public from January 1st of the prior year is eligible for a nomination? Could The Commuter have put together an awards campaign despite not releasing until January 23rd of this year, since by your own contradictory rules it is eligible for awards consideration?
I recognise that I am coming off all Walter Sobchak with this rant, but there really is no goddamn excuse for this shit. I don’t care if it’s what all of the other awards bodies are doing, you are the BRITISH Academy of Film and Television Arts and, as such, should be forced to deal with BRITISH release schedules like the rest of us! And especially so given that 2017 was one of the best years in ages for Film, so there was especially no need to have to goose the rulebook in order to find suitable films to fill your slots! Get your shit together, BAFTA! Put it in a backpack, all your shit, so it’s all together!
Right, with that out of the way, let’s do this for real.
Best Animated Film
Nominees: Coco, Loving Vincent, My Life as a Courgette
Who Should Win: I really liked Coco, really did, more so than any Pixar film since Inside Out, and the finale turned me into a non-stop sobbing machine… but I’d say it’s still only mid-tier Pixar, mostly brought down by a poor opening 15 or so minutes – in fact, if I could, I would release a worldwide moratorium on animated features starting off with main character narration; that is a device that needs to be retired post haste. My Life as a Courgette, though, was by far the best animated feature of 2017, and likely still would have been even in a year that wasn’t so disappointingly meh on animated films. So, even though it fails BAFTA’s own eligibility rules (due to being under 70 minutes long), I am still rooting like mad for it because OH GOD I’M THINKING ABOUT ICARE AND CAMILLE AGAIN AND I CAN’T STOP CRYING.
Who Will Win: “The Disney/Pixar Award,” folks. Last year, it went to Kubo and the Two Strings in a major upset, which might lead some to think that we are finally going to see some variety in award winners. But, whilst I would be all for that, that hope ignores the fact that last year the nominee list grew to 4 entries purely to include both of the Disney films released that year (Moana and Zootopia) and Kubo almost definitely won as a consequence of that splitting of the vote. Don’t fully rule out Loving Vincent – it is one of those once-in-a-lifetime technical achievements that BAFTA loves rewarding (see also: Boyhood for Best Film in 2015), and surprises can happen – but this is Coco’s to lose because “The Disney/Pixar Award.”
Other Notes: A meh year for animated features overall doesn’t mean that there weren’t enough deserving films to get this up to five nominees, like I complain about every single year. I shall continue to stan for Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, and The Boss Baby is genuinely brilliant despite what your cynicism might assume – just going to leave this excellent piece on it by my friend Kyle Turner here. The big omission, though, although not really that surprising is The LEGO Batman Movie. Sure, it’s a toy commercial, and it’s a superhero movie, and there was another not-as-good LEGO movie that also came out last year that may have taken the shine off of it, but LEGO Batman was a hilarious love-letter to the character and it’s sad to see BAFTA pass over it when they deservedly rewarded The LEGO Movie back in 2015.
Outstanding British Film
Nominees: Darkest Hour, God’s Own Country, Lady Macbeth, Paddington 2, The Death of Stalin, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Who Should Win: With the exception of Darkest Hour, I have no major problems with this list. Two of them even made my Top 20 for the year! But as much as I think The Death of Stalin may secretly be the crowning achievement of Armando Iannucci’s career in the realm of political satire (and that is really saying something), I gotta go with Paddington 2. It is the film we need right now: a hopeful, sweet, modest, inclusive, and loving film about kindness and politeness that is just infectiously joyous to watch. I could take or leave that first Paddington, but the sequel is truly deserving of every plaudit thrown its way, I love it to pieces.
Who Will Win: Well you can throw out everything except Three Billboards and Darkest Hour, for starters, since those two are up for Best Film and it would look mighty stupid if they were upstaged here by God’s Own Country or the like, wouldn’t it? Things, however, get trickier after that. Yes, Three Billboards is still the film to beat for Best Picture, in spite of the ever-growing criticism and backlash – the constant invocation of Crash as a comparator by those leading the backlash may prove to be its doom come Oscar time, but BAFTA have gotten Best Picture “wrong” for three straight years now, and this year may be no different. But I have a weird feeling that they may go completely doolally and hand this to Darkest Hour as a consolation prize whilst giving Three Billboards Best Film. Why the hell not, right? It’s not like their nominations make logical sense as is, and Britain for some reason adores Noted Awful Human Being, Winston Churchill, so why not throw out all conventional wisdom and give it to Darkest Hour in order to make me lose my mind?
…nah, they’re just going to give it to Three Billboards. Gonna still yell about calling it if it does go to Darkest Hour, though!
Other Notes: I think Three Billboards is fine, for the record. It’s fine. It’s just fine. A second viewing did not really change the thoughts I had on it at the London Film Festival, so go re-read that entry to save me repeating myself multiple times throughout this article. Pleasantly surprised by the inclusions of Lady Macbeth and God’s Own Country, so keep those two (along with the aforementioned Stalin and Paddington) and sub in for Darkest Hour and Three Billboards the criminally undersold T2 Trainspotting and Hope Dickson Leach’s inexplicably ignored The Levelling (she’s not even up for Outstanding Debut despite The Levelling being one of the year’s very best films). That’s all without even mentioning Terence Davies’ frequently overlooked A Quiet Passion and Alice Lowe’s riotous Prevenge. British cinema was pretty great in 2017, huh?
Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Get Out (Jordan Peele), I, Tonya (Steven Rogers), Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig), The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)
Who Should Win: I legit had morning showers months after having seen Get Out for the first time where I would suddenly be hit by a new realisation about Jordan Peele’s commentary on liberal racism that I hadn’t even considered before then, no exaggeration. If that’s not the mark of an all-timer of a screenplay, even before you account for the crackling dialogue and fantastically drawn characters, then I don’t know what is.
Who Will Win: This one’s tricky, because both Get Out and Lady Bird have been shafted in terms of nominations despite their status as The Film Fans’ Choices, and that means that they are both due consolation prizes, which normally come in the Screenplay category. Except that, as you know, they are both competing against each other and, as you may not know, BAFTA doesn’t honour by that unspoken code that often. Remember how Moonlight lost out on all four of its nominations last year, despite us prognosticators being insistent that it had to take home something, including losing one to Lion of all goddamn films? So, what I am basically saying is be ready for Martin McDonagh to take home this statue despite his screenplay being a complete mess. If it ain’t Three Billboards, it will almost definitely be Lady Bird, but I don’t see Lady Bird or Get Out leaving with anything on the night, so prepare your angry tweets accordingly.
Other Notes: Jettison everything except Shape of Water and Get Out – again, no offense to Lady Bird, but I haven’t seen it and I don’t support category fraud like BAFTA does. Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal seems disappointingly destined to forever be a cult film due to its central genre conceit, but that screenplay is a work of goddamn genius and let nobody spoil it for you if you’ve yet to experience it. Matt Spicer and David Branson Smith’s screenplay for Ingrid Goes West is viciously and uncomfortably insightful yet empathetic, Hope Dickson Leach’s The Levelling is a raw and painful open wound that reads just as heartbreakingly as it plays, and I don’t know why we keep snubbing The Big Sick for stuff but Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani palpably poured their souls into that screenplay and the results speak for themselves and what they’re speaking is “GIVE US SOME AWARDS RECOGNITION, DAMMIT!” I recognise that that equals six nominees in my new list, but cut me some slack, 2017 was too damn good.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: Call Me by Your Name (James Ivory), Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (Matt Greenhalgh), Molly’s Game (Aaron Sorkin), Paddington 2 (Paul King and Simon Farnaby), The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci and Ian Martin and David Schneider)
Who Should Win: Honestly? Right at this moment? I’m going to say Call Me by Your Name. Given a bit more distance from Call Me, I’ll likely come to my senses and credit Paddington 2 as deserving of this award, as King and Farnaby did a phenomenal job in finding new dimensions in old characters, penning delightful new characters, and bringing together the film’s various disparate threads in a satisfying manner whilst never overdoing (but also never allowing one to forget about) the immigration undercurrent. But the screenplay for Call Me by Your Name is just phenomenal, with its ever-evolving characters, radiating sexuality, and pained heartbreak, and whilst the film itself may never end up reaching greatness (for reasons we’ll come to soon), it’s not the fault of Ivory’s screenplay. If nothing else, he should get a BAFTA purely for that Michael Stuhlbarg speech, which is one of the most beautiful and fatalistically romantic things I have heard in my entire life.
Who Will Win: I mean, there is every chance that this could go to Paddington 2 – of all the categories I’ve predicted on over the years, this is the one I’ve most often been tripped up by, largely down to my forever underestimating the Weinstein influence (there’s something that now feels incredibly icky to type) – but it’s going to go to Call Me by Your Name. What else could they give it to? Molly’s Game? Maybe if the award was Most Screenplay.
Other Notes: Full disclosure, I have not seen Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. I could have at the London Film Festival, but it didn’t interest me and was due out Justice League weekend so I figured it would play near me or not make it to Awards Season contention and HA on both accounts, as it turns out. Maybe it’s great and deserves its three nominations (that’s one more than Get Out has). I wouldn’t know. As for snubs: yeah, it’s a mess, but John Walsh’s screenplay for T2 Trainspotting is the best we are going to get of the eventual drove of “White men left behind by society” movies that will be inbound soon, and is the best rebuttal to Trainspotting that one could make. In extra-long-shots, I’d also throw Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, Blade Runner 2049, and (really) Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi into the deserving mix. Ditto Logan, but that actually got an Oscar nomination so I guess it wasn’t really such a long-shot and is just a plain old snub.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Willem Dafoe as Bobby Hicks (The Florida Project), Hugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan (Paddington 2), Woody Harrelson as Chief Willoughby (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty (All the Money in the World), Sam Rockwell as Officer Dixon (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Who Should Win: …that’s the list? That’s it? I mean, I’ve seen worse and all of these people are very good in their respective films, although only Plummer is the best part of his film, but am I the only one who feels incredibly underwhelmed by this list? Eh, of the lot, I guess I’ll throw my weight behind Hugh Grant? I’ve always liked Hugh Grant, if I’m admitting deep shameful secrets to you all, especially when Hugh Grant is playing pompous self-involved snivelling twits, and he’s a lot of fun in Paddington 2. Hell, I guess even the fact that I’d only rate him the fifth best part of that movie is praise towards his performance, since that indicates a team player’s spirit to make sure the film stays firmly Paddington’s instead of Grant making off with it.
If I can pretend Harrelson was nominated for War for the Planet of the Apes, though, then I’ll root for him instead.
Who Will Win: Everybody loves Sam Rockwell, he is one of our finest character actors, and the acting guilds have been waiting forever for him to go and appear in something even vaguely “respectable” that gives him an actual character to play instead of coasting on his fountains of charisma so that they can give him trophies. He’s going over, with the only potential snag being that Three Billboards (for some reason) has two representatives here that could split the vote. Should that occur, it’s Christopher Plummer’s, but it’s unlikely to. I’ll see you back here again next year when Rockwell turns up as George W. Bush in a Dick Cheney biopic written and directed by Adam McKay and doesn’t everything about that sentence already sound perfect to you?
Other Notes: As pleasantly surprised as I am to see Willem Dafoe here, because that meant that The Florida Project can now be called a BAFTA Nominated Movie and I am kicking myself for not making it at least an Honourable Mention on my Top 20 of 2017, I’d honestly still strip this entire category out and start again from scratch. For one, I’d give Michael Stuhlbarg two slots for Call Me by Your Name and The Shape of Water (leaning more towards the latter if I had to only pick one). Ray Romano for The Big Sick, Michael Shannon for Shape of Water – yes, I am a hypocrite, sue me – Jason Mitchell for Mudbound (although Mudbound’s nature as an ensemble piece and its lack of a UK theatrical run for eligibility likely makes that one more contentious). But the last slot would be reserved for Jason Sudeikis’ career-redefining performance in Colossal and he would take it in a walk. Anybody who has seen Colossal will know why I say this, and anybody who has not seen Colossal yet needs to go and watch Colossal WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?!
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Allison Janney as LaVona Golden (I, Tonya), Lesley Manville as Cyril Woodcock (Phantom Thread), Laurie Metcalf as Marion McPherson (Lady Bird), Kristin Scott-Thomas as Clementine Churchill (Darkest Hour), Octavia Spencer as Zelda Fuller (The Shape of Water)
Who Should Win: Disqualifying both Janney and Metcalf for obvious reasons, HOW IS THIS LIST SOMEHOW WORSE THAN THE MEN’S CATEGORY?! Seriously, how do you nominate Phantom Thread but then nominate the wrong person?! It’s baffling! This whole list is baffling! And Scott-Thomas did absolutely nothing in Darkest Hour, so I guess that makes my pick Octavia Spencer by process of elimination. Yay?
Who Will Win: Allison Janney is currently on what I have dubbed “The J.K. Simmons Tour” and she is a lock for it here. Certain other sources would have you believe that Lesley Manville could upset everyone thanks to hometown pride but, whilst not without merit, I highly doubt that will happen. Janney, just like Simmons, is basically a saint in the world of character acting, her role is a scenery-chewing display of pure venom that goes completely against how we normally see her, she gets the film’s best lines and upstages the up-and-coming star for whom this is supposed to be their showcase… Holy shit, I, Tonya really is just a less-great version of Whiplash…
Other Notes: With respect to Janney, who is really good in a very good movie; strip it out and start again. Forcibly carve Tiffany Haddish’s name into the statuette for her star-making turn in Girls Trip before you go any further, then start filling out the ranks. Vicky Krieps for Phantom Thread – assuming she doesn’t actually qualify for Lead Actress; I can’t explain why cos spoilers, but the film is deliberately tricksy about who the real lead is right up until the credits – Dafne Keen for Logan, Allison Williams for Get Out, and either Ana de Armas for Blade Runner 2049 or Tessa Thompson for Thor: Ragnarok (delete according to personal preference). See how much better that list looks already?
Nominees: Jamie Bell as Peter Turner (Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool), Timothée Chalamet as Elio Perlman (Call Me by Your Name), Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock (Phantom Thread), Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington (Get Out), Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill (Darkest Hour)
Who Should Win: Shiiiiiit, you’re going to make me pick between Day-Lewis and Kaluuya? God, you are evil! See, I will be perfectly honest with you, I actually went into Phantom Thread ready to tear it down, at least a little bit, because I’ve never been able to fully get into Paul Thomas Anderson movies and I’ve actually found Day-Lewis to be a bit too Acting-y in his most celebrated roles for my tastes. But, goddamn, if he isn’t absolutely sensational in Phantom Thread (and the film itself is too) with such a magnificent performance of a difficult controlling ‘genius’ with deep-seated psychological issues, and all without ever once giving off the impression that he is doing anything other than just being Reynolds Woodcock. It’s the performance of his that finally made me understand that chorus of “Greatest Actor Ever” chants… and it’s going up against Daniel Kaluuya’s perfect turn as Chris in Get Out. Entire courses need to be taught on the way that Kaluuya is able to make Chris simultaneously a perfect reflection of the audience’s reactions as the story goes on (and how he communicates that) and a three-dimensional thinking and feeling character in his own right, I am not even exaggerating. OH GOD, DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE!
Who Will Win: Gary Oldman for his terrible turn as Fat Bastard in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Now, look, Gary Oldman chews scenery. It’s what he does. You hire Gary Oldman, he is almost definitely going to give you the kind of enjoyably hammy “I don’t give a fuck” performance that I like to call The Gary Oldman Special. But here, buried beneath terrible prosthetics, the “IDGAF” that typifies great (terrible) Oldman performances has been replaced by way too much tangible effort, the kind designed to court awards bodies by showing them just how much the actor in question is ACTING. All bluster and blubber and yelling, so much goddamn yelling… It’s not just Oscar Bait, it’s incredibly boring and even actively annoying to watch, and anybody with sense would laugh it out of the room. Unfortunately, awards bodies adore that shit, and Oldman has been “due” ever since The Artist robbed him in 2011, so apparently it’s time. Sigh.
Other Notes: Don’t let my immense displeasure over Gary Oldman’s preordained victory or the fact that I have not seen Film Stars Don’t Blah Blah Blah overtake the fact that this is the first time in at least three years where I don’t think the Best Actor category is complete garbage! Sure, the wrong person is going to win, but do you know how happy I am to actually have somebody I can genuinely root for, for once? Two, even! And Timothée Chalamet is super-cute, so he can stick around too! To make this category perfect, or at least close to perfect, sub out Oldman and Bell – perhaps, maybe, look, it’s Lionsgate’s fault for not distributing it decently – in favour of any combination of Andy Serkis in War for the Planet of the Apes, Hugh Jackman in Logan, Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049, and Kumail Nanjiani in The Big Sick. But, even still: progress!
Nominees: Annette Benning as Gloria Grahame (Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool), Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito (The Shape of Water), Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding (I, Tonya), Saoirse Ronan as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Lady Bird)
Who Should Win: I stand by my insistence that Sally Hawkins should have had all Best Actress statues FedExed to her home already. Frances McDormand is outstanding in Three Billboards, perhaps the best performance she has ever given in a career where she just plain does not give bad performances, but Sally Hawkins in Shape of Water was on another level to almost everybody else last year. The way she communicates Elisa’s deep sadness, sexual frustration, and purity without ever once threatening to turn into a cartoon (and also without non-signed dialogue) is a masterclass in performance, and especially vital since she effectively becomes the soul of the film no matter how much Michael Shannon’s Strickland tries to enforce his will over it. Even with Guillermo del Toro being at the height of his filmmaking powers, Shape would have completely collapsed were Hawkins not up to the incredibly difficult task he sets out for her, and she manages it with grace and ease.
Who Will Win: So it’s a good thing that she’s actually in with a good chance of winning a statue, then. All season long, it’s been a fight between Hawkins and McDormand, with the two trading the honours at various ceremonies; McDormand taking the televised ones, Hawkins taking the more specialist critic-focussed prizes. And Hawkins does have the home field advantage, especially since I have a feeling that BAFTA have been kicking themselves ever since they gave Jennifer Lawrence’s abysmal turn in American Hustle Best Supporting Actress over Hawkins’ in Blue Jasmine back in 2014 and have just been gagging for a chance to right that wrong. That said, I’m still calling it for McDormand, because she has the momentum and Mildred is the showier role at the right social time. I’m honestly fine with either taking it, but it’s most likely going to be McDormand.
Other Notes: Thanks to category fraud, there’s nothing here outside of McDormand and Hawkins. So strip out the ones that should not be here and Benning (sorry not sorry), and buffer the category with the three performances that can actually give Hawkins and McDormand a proper fight. Of the films actually released in the UK during 2017, Aubrey Plaza’s gleefully awkward and deeply pitiable turn as Ingrid in Ingrid Goes West was the finest of the year and deserves way more plaudits and attention than she’s gotten. Ditto Cynthia Nixon’s embodiment of Emily Dickinson in A Quiet Passion, one of the finest communications of depression and self-loathing I have yet witnessed in film. And for British flavour, but no token admission, Ellie Kendrick’s grief-stricken lead turn in The Levelling was one of the year’s most devastating performances. This is all also without mentioning Florence Pugh for Lady Macbeth, Anne Hathaway for Colossal, Wu Ke-xi for The Road to Mandalay… Lots of quality to pick from. Still, guess it’s fitting that the year Best Actor finally got its shit together would be the year that Best Actress largely fell apart.
Nominees: Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name), Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049)
Who Should Win: Oh, sweet! A surprise but fully-deserved nomination for The Best Director Working Today, and his second in as many years! …oh, shit! Now I have to pick between Villeneuve and del Toro! Damn you, monkey’s paw! Then again, could del Toro have made Blade Runner 2049 not only phenomenal, but superior as a film to the original sci-fi landmark? Maybe, come to think of it, actually. Shit. Err… I’ll get back to you on this.
Who Will Win: del Toro has been hoovering up long-overdue and completely deserved statues for his work on Shape of Water all season long, and I don’t see that coming to a halt on Sunday. Nolan isn’t going to upset because his style is too clinical and detached, and he is forever destined to be one of those directors who just never gets recognised by awards bodies. If anybody pulls off the upset it’ll be McDonagh for Three Billboards, but that will only happen if they are planning on giving Shape of Water Best Film, and will also be accompanied by justifiable riots in the streets.
Other Notes: So, the reason why Call Me by Your Name, despite an excellent screenplay and fantastic performances by Chalemet, Stuhlbarg, and Armie Hammer, never manages to become truly great is because Guadagnino’s direction is absolutely terrified of playing into the homosexuality of its two leads. Initially, his distant direction might seem like it’s going to pay off by becoming more intimate once Elio and Oliver start becoming more intimate, but his decision to literally pan away from that moment – followed by not changing his distant, borderline chaste framing in the film that comes after – puts that theory to bed. For a story pivoting around a gay romance and accompanying romantic and sexual awakening, this is obviously murder. (Allow me to again plug Kyle Turner’s take on this cos it lines up with mine but is better communicated.) McDonagh, meanwhile, directs his messy screenplay incredibly messily and that’s why a) nothing but the jokes stick in the film and b) where the misreading over the film being a “racist redemption” story is coming from because he’s not skilled enough at hands-off directing. Nolan’s work on Dunkirk is too cold for my tastes, but I may just need to watch the film again in a more chipper mood.
So, who would I replace those three with? Jordan Peele is the obvious “how in the hell did that guy get snubbed?” pick, which ties back in to BAFTA’s history of snubbing Black films and Black filmmakers (something I have been yelling about for the past several years), and since he did the best directing job of anybody last year he should have been here. James Gunn and Matt Reeves are more outside picks, since they worked on major franchise blockbusters, but both also did career-best work on the finest films of 2017. Edgar Wright has somehow never been up for a BAFTA and Baby Driver would have been the perfect time to rectify that, Dee Rees did lyrical work on Mudbound, Hope Dickson Leach debuted with the skill of an old pro on The Levelling, and, despite the mixed reception and eventual punchline status of the film as a whole, you cannot deny that Darren Aronofsky directed the hell out of mother!.
There were options, is what I’m getting at.
Nominees: Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Who Should Win: Well, since it was the best film of 2017 by several country miles, as well as the most culturally relevant and the one that captured the zeitgeist more than any other work of art in 2017, I have got to throw my support behind Get O… hmm? … …what do you mean, “they didn’t nominate Get Out?” Why wouldn’t they? Darkest Hour is here, as is the highly-controversial Three Billboards. They would have to know how it looks if they snubbed Get Out but included those two! Because otherwise they would look like absolute out-of-touch fucking twits, and that just would not do! No, no, Get Out has been nominated, and it’s going to fight Shape of Water to the death, and all of these other nominees will get in the sea, so then this year’s ceremony won’t look like an absolute fucking joke! That is what has happened and what is going to happen and I will not hear otherwise.
Who Will Win: They’re not going to give it to Call Me by Your Name because the buzz has died for that. They’re not going to give it to Dunkirk because it’s too emotionally cold for Academy sensibilities. They’re not going to give it to The Shape of Water because of the fishman fucking. And they are not going to give it to Darkest Hour because they are not complete and total fucking idiots. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is going to win the top prize because nothing else makes sense according to the BAFTA metric. It may not take home top prize at the Oscars (because the BAFTAs and the Oscars haven’t lined up on Best Film honours for the past three years), but it is going over here, sans the mother of all surprises should the fishman-fucking not hobble Shape of Water. Or maybe Jordan Peele running on-stage, clobbering the Three Billboards producers from behind, and cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase to steal the title out from everyone’s collective nose.
Please let that last one happen.
Other Notes: Seriously, no Get Out is an absolute goddamn crime and indicates that those new, supposedly revelatory BAFTA inclusivity rules cannot come into effect fast enough – assuming you are idealistic enough about awards ceremonies to believe that they will substantially change things, anyhow. As for everything else, my Top 20 Films of 2017 series is still up on the site and, despite The Post and Phantom Thread being great films, is still unchanged (save for The Shape of Water slotting in somewhere) due to an underwhelming Awards Season Movie line-up this year. So, go read that instead for a far better list than this shite.
Callie Petch sees a fever dream before them now.