The BAFTA will be announcing their nominations tonight. Remember, what happens right now is what matters for Oscar nominations. These being released right in the sweet spot is perfect timing to boost a contender. Will they boost Dunkirk by adding a supporting nod for Mark Rylance? Will a key movie be left off and, thus, send the race into a tailspin of expectations?
The first thing you need to know about the BAFTAs is that they changed their voting a couple of times over the years. When people look back on BAFTA history prior to 2000 they are looking at a group that voted AFTER the Oscars. Since 2000, they do it all before the Oscars. They also swapped their voting procedures in 2013 to get rid of the long list and push their nominations date back further to early January. They vote to choose five nominees instead of choosing from the long list. Their whole membership votes on both the nominees and winners for top five categories – film and the acting awards. For the rest of the categories, the individual branches choose the nominees and the whole voting body pick the winners.
The second thing you need to know is that BAFTA has five Best Picture nominees and five Best Director nominees. With so few nominees, it’s a great way to see which films are strongest across many different voting groups. Since the Academy expanded the Best Picture ballot, every Best Picture winner has been at least a Best Picture nominee at the BAFTAs. And before that, you have to go back to 2004 (with Million Dollar Baby) to find a year when Oscar’s Best Picture was not on their list.
In terms of director, there doesn’t seem to be the same kind of rigid match as Picture. Both Moonlight and Spotlight won Best Picture at the Oscars without a BAFTA director nomination. But before that, you again are left with going all the way back to the Million Dollar Baby stat. All in all, Picture is probably more important than Director but with BAFTA the rules are so new that we really can’t rely on any kind of precedent.
Because of the Academy’s odd preferential balloting system we can’t even rely on which films lead nominations, but I would say that the BAFTAs can really help Dunkirk and Christopher Nolan if they pull a King’s Speech on it and it leads the nominations by landing in nearly every category. I also suspect The Shape of Water will do really really well with them. They probably like Lady Bird. They probably like The Big Sick. They probably LOVE Three Billboards. I’m betting Call Me By Your Name will be their thing too.
People will probably assume that Get Out gets the shaft here, given the BAFTAs odd relationship with films about the black experience, although Moonlight was in last year. But I guess I won’t be surprised if it’s left off the nominees. Darkest Hour could also surge in a way it hasn’t leading up to the Oscar nominations.
The BAFTAs haven’t matched Best Picture with the Oscars since 12 Years a Slave in 2013. Boyhood beat Birdman, The Revenant beat Spotlight, La La Land beat Moonlight. I’m going to go ahead and draw the conclusion that these wins show you how the Academy wins might have gone without the preferential ballot. Maybe, maybe not. Who can say?
We will be watching to see which five actresses make it into the Best Actress lineup; many think Judi Dench will get in for Victoria and Abdul rather than Meryl Streep or Jessica Chastain.
We will know some time tonight (around 11:30 p.m. Pacific) what the BAFTAs will reveal. What are your predictions?