Sunday, February 8, 2015

BAFTA Clarifies Some Races, Obscures Others

So the EE British Academy of Film and Television Awards just wrapped up not long ago, but you won't get to watch the ceremony until later tonight because for all their fine cinematic tastes, the organization still hasn't evolved past their daft custom of broadcasting the show after all the winners are all public knowledge. Get with the times, BAFTA!

Anyway, I'm not really interested in the program so much as the results. Boyhood shrugged off last night's possibly crippling DGA loss to keep its Oscar hopes afloat. Also winning for the film were Patty Arquette (lock) and director Richard Linklater (not so much a lock).

Other big winners include The Grand Budapest Hotel with five, and The Theory of Everything and Whiplash with three. Oscar frontrunner Birdman took home only a single honour for Emmanuel Lubezki's virtuoso cinematography.

But what I was hoping this last major precursor of the season could really do is help illuminate some of the Academy's more unpredictable races. The British Academy is, after all, similar in membership size to AMPAS, and can therefore offer some clues on what sort of films will appeal to a large group in certain categories.

In some categories the Brits' picks have helped assure me of my initial instincts, such as the Best Original Screenplay and Best Makeup triumphs for The Grand Budapest Hotel. I may still be wrong about them, but I'm certainly more at ease with those guesses now than I was before.

And yet, there are other contests that have thrown me for a loop. This crowd clearly loved The Theory of Everything, handing it Best Adapted screenplay and British Film over Oscar heavyweight The Imitation Game, but they passed on Johann Johannsson's very awards-friendly score. That prize ended up going to Alexandre Desplat's more idiosyncratic (and admittedly better) music in
The Grand Budapest Hotel. I'd love to see Desplat finally win an Oscar, and all the better if it's for one of his finer works, but could this still be Johnasson's?

And then there's Best Film Editing and Sound Mixing, which went to the brilliantly electric post-production work of Whiplash. Again, these are Oscar wins I'd love to see, but might the Academy be more impressed with the war movie conventions that were so expertly pulled off in American Sniper?

Don't even get me started on Best Foreign Language Film. That one's a complete mystery to me.

Bottom line: There are a number of tight races with genuine suspense behind them this year, including Best Director and Best Picture. We'll all be complaining the morning after when our favourites have lost and whatnot, but until then, this is a real edge-of-your-seat season, and I love it!

Here are all the winners with some added commentaries.

Best British Film: The Theory of Everything
I had pegged The Imitation Game -- which still feels like an Oscar spoiler -- to land this one, but apparently the Hawking biopic has been a bigger hit in the UK. Its impressive nomination tally with BAFTA speaks to that.

Best Original Music: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Sweet choice. Desplat's quaint Eastern European styings for the film were bound to find some love with this group, although I still think The Theory of Everything is in a better Oscar position. Hope I'm wrong.

Best Documentary: Citizenfour
Get your Oscar speech ready, Ms. Poitras.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling: The Grand Budapest Hotel
This category is gonna be a bloodbath for the Oscar win. All three contenders have distinctive and compelling hooks to earn votes. But this BAFTA victory is enough to lean me towards predicting Grand Budapest.

Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Well, duh.

Best British Short Film: Boogaloo & Graham
This Oscar-nominated short is swift, funny, and super cute. Could possibly win the Oscar, but more on that tomorrow.

Best British Short Animation: The Bigger Picture
Another short nominated by the Academy, although this one will have a much tougher time finding love with that group. It's kind of a downer.

Best Editing: Whiplash
The right call, but will the Academy echo it? I have no idea what's going to happen. Whiplash has the BAFTA, Boyhood and Grand Budapest the ACE, Critics Choice Birdman wasn't even nominated, and the most typical winner of the Oscar nominees, American Sniper, hasn't won any editing prizes! G'ah!

Best Sound: Whiplash
Yes, yes, a thousand times YES! Please let this repeat on Oscar night!

Best Animated Film: The LEGO Movie
Again, I don't know whether Phil Lord and Chris Miller are enjoying all these victories or if it's all just more salt in the wound.

Best Special Visual Effects: Interstellar
The VES may recognize Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' technological proficiency, but ask a broad hodgepodge of industry folk and they'll always go for the more prestigious-looking option.

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
'Nuff said.

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Will this be the film's only Oscar win? That's a distinct, tragic possibility.

Best Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer: Pride
Need to see this one. Eventually.

Best Cinematography: Birdman
Can't beat Chivo. He'll likely win the ASC one week from now, and then the Oscar the week after that. What an amzing two years he's had, and he may well be back in the mix next year for Inarritu's The Revenant.

Best Original Screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel
This win is key. With the WGA Awards rendered largely moot due to many ineligibilities and the fact that they announce their winners only a few days before Oscar voting closes, this is the only industry group that can shed any light on which way this category will ultimately go.

Best Film Not in the English Language: Ida
Classy choice. Unfortunately, I'm not sure this clears up the Oscar picture in this head-scratcher of a category. Leviathan has the Globe and their air of importance, Ida has the BAFTA and classical 'Holocaust movie' vibe (though it's really post-Holocaust), Timbuktu has great reviews, Tangerines is the sort of snoozerific film that would have won under the old system, and Wild Tales clearly stands out from the pack by being a comedy.

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Theory of Everything
This is obviously the hometown favourite, but with Weinstein pulling the strings stateside, I'd still be surprised to see The Imitation Game lose the Oscar.

Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Poised to be a similar craft category juggernaut on Oscar night.

Rising Star Award: Jack O'Connell
Looks like all that getting beat up by Miyavi has payed off!

Best Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
This will help the sting of last night's DGA loss go down a little smoother. And it maintains my rooting interest in the Academy splitting the Picture/Director/Screenplay honours between Inarritu, Linklater, and Anderson. God, I hope so!

Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Shame. I mean, Redmayne is great in this movie and all, but he's got so much more ahead of him. Riggan Thompson is like Michael Keaton's career piece.

Best Actress: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Cruisin'. And she deserves it too for all those magnificent performances over the years. Looking forward to her Oscar win.

Best Picture: Boyhood
So where does that leave us? I maintain that the PGA-SAG-DGA trifecta for Birdman is more significant, but maybe Linklater will get his consolation prize in Best Director? This is gonna be a tense couple of weeks...


  1. I guess my theory of Grand Budapest sweeping didn't pay off. Oh well. I wasn't really expecting it to.

    I hope that Wes Anderson gets an Oscar at this year's telecast, because I have been a fan of his for many years! Wes and How To Train Your Dragon 2 winning at the same ceremony, if Roger Deakins was winning, it would be a PERFECT ceremony.

  2. I think Editing - Whiplash and Sound - Whiplash got cleared up for me.
    Sound Editing is looking tricky. I'm leaning towards Interstellar.

  3. And Original Screenplay - Boyhood, seems like a decent bet.