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A Brief History of the Oscar – BAFTA Relationship

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One of the big awards shows, among many, inserted into the awards race now is the BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Awards.  When I first started, in 1999, no one in the Oscar race paid any attention to the BAFTAs because they were held after the Oscars.  This put a healthy divide between the two groups and really did seem to mean — this is what THEY thought, rather than they trying to influence or match the Oscars, as most groups now do.   But they switched their date in 2000 to be held before the Oscars and now they’re just one of the precursors on the road to Oscar.

The British invasion is a notable strain that runs through the Oscars and always has done.  While America has, I think, produced some of the best film directors in the world, the Brits really influence the actors branch, the biggest voting block in the Academy.  They used to be known for not so much matching Oscar as being able to push through movies like The Pianist, or an acting contender like Marion Cotillard.  But once Oscar shifted its date from March back to February, and all of the awards shows then shifted their dates back, you had near-uniform voting across the board.   You have to go back to 2008 to find a year that didn’t match up with Oscar’s Best Picture when Atonement won.

There are two things the BAFTAs tell us about their awards — they really really REALLY REALLY loved Argo enough to give Ben Affleck an acting nomination, and they seemed to prefer Ang Lee who is the only director who has gotten every director nomination in the race, from Globe to DGA to Oscar to BAFTA. Every other director is missing one of those.  That has led some to believe that Ang Lee and Life of Pi could be the surprise winners at the BAFTAs, thus throwing the race into even more equal flux.  Even without a Best Director nomination (note how when Spielberg didn’t get a BAFTA nod everyone said huh? what? But when Affleck didn’t get an Academy nod we had a panic on our hands on the 4th of July). Even without a director nomination, Lincoln still led the BAFTA nominations.

The BAFTAS, unlike Oscar, do not use the preferential balloting, either for the nominees or the winners.  Here is how they changed their voting:

Following extensive discussion, consideration and research over several years, the Film Committee has confirmed a move from a three-round voting system to a two-round system. This will be implemented in time for the 2012/13 voting period.

As per previous years, members will vote for both the nominations and the winner in the Best Film category and the four performance categories. Members will have the opportunity to opt in to chapters to vote for the nominees and winner in Animation, Documentary, Film Not in the English Language, and Outstanding British Film.

Individual chapters will now decide the nominees and members will vote for the winner in Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design, Director, Editing, Make-Up & Hair, Original Music, Production Design, Sound, and Special Visual Effects.

Since this is the first year they changed their voting, we have no precedent to go on.  Mucking things up even more is that the BAFTAs history can really only be counted from the year 2000 on. Many people make the mistake of searching out Oscar and BAFTA history but in fact, the only reason to ever look at history is to see pattern and influence of voting.  So in many ways they aren’t reliable, or as reliable, as some.  For instance, they are no help in seeing how they sided with Apollo 13 and The Color Purple vis a vis Ben Affleck.  The only time we’ve had a major split vote since the BAFTAs was when the Ang Lee and Brokeback mountain won there – so that was really no help.

The BAFTA membership is slightly larger than the Academy’s, at 6500.

Some stats:

  • Most of the time, the film with the most nominations wins, but not always.  Brokeback Mountain and The Pianist were the two post-date change that won without leading noms.  Atonement, Return of the King, The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker, The Artist all led or tied for lead for most nominations.
  • The only film to win Oscar’s Best Picture in BAFTA/Oscar 12 year history that wasn’t nominated for a BAFTA in either Picture or Director was Million Dollar Baby.
  • BAFTA BP winners always had a Best Director nomination.
  • All BAFTA winners for Best Director have been nominated for Oscar’s Best Director (that leaves only two this year, Haneke or Lee).
  • 8 BAFTA Best Actress winners in 12 years have gone on to win the Oscar. Only one wasn’t nominated, Scarlett Johansson for Lost in Translation.
  • 7 BAFTA Best Actor winners in 12 years have gone on to win the Oscar, all have been nominated.
  • The BAFTA Picture and Director have matched roughly 50% of the time.  When they matched, picture and director went on to win the Oscar except for three times.  Twice, the director only went on to win — Roman Polanski for the Pianist and Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain. Once, neither did – Peter Jackson, Fellowship of the Ring.

You can check out our current predictions over at Gold Derby.