Five Ways the BAFTA can Throw the Oscar RaceFebruary 15, 2014 • By Sasha Stone
The BAFTA awards will be announced tomorrow morning. They will be trickling out on Twitter and won’t be shown on the BBC until two hours later. That might not be the best way to attract viewers but hey. All eyes will be on BAFTA winners to get a clue about this year’s Best Picture race — still wide-open (despite what the pundits are saying).
When you have two films tying at the Producers Guild (still the only guild to use the preferential ballot with ten nominees), one film winning the SAG ensemble and another winning the DGA you have Gravity inching ahead by a very slim margin. Without the DGA that makes it a tough slog for any other film but Gravity to win Best Picture going by statistics. The DGA winner usually calls Best Picture.
The years when there were splits during a preferential ballot the film with the most nominations always won.
1940 – Rebecca (nominated for 11, won 2)/John Ford for The Grapes of Wrath (nominated for 7, won 2)
1937 – The Life of Emile Zola (nominated for 10, won 3)/Leo McCarey, The Awful Truth (nominated for 6, won 1)
1936 – The Great Ziegfeld (nominated for 7, won 3)/Frank Capra, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (nominated for 5, won 1)
1935 – Mutiny on the Bounty (nominated for 8, won 1)/John Ford, The Informer (nominated for 6, won 4)
That was a long time ago and the Academy is a very different group of voters now. But given what we know about the kinds of films that win in a split, and how SAG ensemble has always figured into it, there is a good chance it won’t split. However, there is wisdom to found in large numbers and it’s very possible the voters will get their ducks in a row and do something that is completely out of character for them: vote in the “popular” film for director and the more difficult, challenging film for Picture. It just never goes that way.
Even though I’m one of many to be predicting 12 Years a Slave to win Best Picture, both at Gurus of Gold and at Gold Derby, if I were betting money I’d say Gravity wins both. But here are several ways the BAFTA might alter the race.
1) Gravity wins Picture and Director (not British Film but straight up Picture). I figure this is likely to happen since Gravity is a feel good, uptick movie. That happens, all of the pundits here will likely redistribute their predictions to put Gravity on top.
2) Steve McQueen wins Best Director, which seems unlikely given the sweep for Cuaron. The entire BAFTA membership now votes for all categories so you can mostly forget the quirky oddities that used to happen with them. Now you’re looking at another big consensus vote. Cuaron thus far has the consensus vote so it seems logical he will win. Why am I predicting Steve McQueen? I’m the patron saint of lost causes. Either way, I doubt Oscar pundits will switch to McQueen from Cuaron to win the Oscar.
3) Cuaron wins Director, 12 Years wins Best Picture that edges things even more slightly towards what the pundits and some critics groups seem to be suggesting the Academy do with their votes. But in my experience voters don’t do “should votes.” They simply vote for what they like best.
4) Leonardo DiCaprio wins Best Actor as many are suspecting. This last minute wave of buzz appears to be in DiCaprio’s favor but is that just the internet or is it real? Hard to say. Either way, there is no McConaughey in competition there. No actor has won the Oscar without at least a SAG nomination since the SAG began, but this might be the year that changes.
5) DiCaprio does not win Best Actor but someone else does — Christian Bale or Chiwetel Ejiofor. That means McConaughey likely has the Oscar. But this year there seems to be no category that isn’t ripe for an upset, except Visual Effects.
I will probably not do very well in my BAFTA predictions since I’m going against the consensus on many of the categories over at Gold Derby. But it’s really easy to just look around and predict what everyone else is predicting. It’s more interesting to me to try to predict the potential surprises.