Egads. The good – nice to see Drive and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – especially Gary Oldman — recognized. And doubly nice to see that they finally acknowledged Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for score (after shutting them out last year) and Lynne Ramsay nominated for Director. True, they always honor their own but this was an especially nice touch. And of course, Michael Fassbender in for Actor, always a good thing. Somehow, though, they put Bernice Bejo in lead (she is lead but we’re all pretending she’s supporting) and thereby shutting out arguably one of the best female performances of the year, Olivia Colman in Tyrannosaur – here was the best shot for the actress to be acknowledged for her fine work. Like our love-hate relationship with the 100 or so people who vote for the Golden Globes, at some point you have to just let it go. Not just the BAFTAS but all of it – not getting picked by them doesn’t speak to quality, but only timing, human nature and popularity — fleeting though it be. However, we should celebrate the good, and piss all over the bad. That, after all, is our right.
At any rate, the BAFTA could perhaps do more serious damage if these nominations were announced prior to Oscar nomination ballots closing. On the other hand, they appear to think not unlike Oscar voters, particularly since Oscar has a fierce and long standing worship of all things English – so much so that they even gave their Best Picture prize last year to a movie about a British King! Never feel sorry for a man who owns a plane.
But let’s look at some of the good things before ripping them a new one, which they righteously deserve.
Lynne Ramsay for Best Director
The Artist firms up its frontrunner status — it can’t lose the BAFTAS and likely can’t lose the Oscar
Bernice Bejo in lead – would have preferred Coleman in lead but it’s nice to see someone acknowledge Bejo’s leading role status.
Strong showing for the overlooked Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Drive. The former may get some Oscar love since there is some crossover voting. The jury is still out on how Drive will fit into the Oscar race, if anywhere.
Unfortunately the Artist firms up its frontrunner status. Both Hugo and The Descendants not coming into the BAFTAS so strongly. In a bit, we’ll look at whether that really matters, though. With the Artist leading here — we’re looking at a very dull race indeed.
NO Olivia Coleman, which is a damned shame.
NO Dragon Tattoo except in Score and Cinematography
NO Hugo for Best Picture
NO Alexander Payne for Best Director
NO David Fincher for Best Director
NO Rooney Mara for Best Actress
NO Screenplay nod for Hugo
You have to go all the way back to Million Dollar Baby (which didn’t qualify, I don’t think) to find a year when the Best Picture winner was not a BAFTA Best Pic nominee. Still, this lineup seems to signal we either will be seeing some surprises when Oscar noms are announced (Drive and Tinker Tailor in there) or else the BAFTAS will have a year that hasn’t matched Oscar’s Best Pic for the first time since 2008, when they had The Lives of Others and American Gangster in their top five but Oscar didn’t match them, choosing Juno and Michael Clayton instead. Is this a 2008 year? Hard to say since Oscar branched out to ten nominees it became much easier for BAFTA to match them. What happens this year is a complete and total mystery, in terms of nominations.
In terms of winning Best Picture, if you go by the BAFTA rule, you have to now rule out Hugo for the win — UNFORTUNATELY. And instead, you have The Descendants and The Help now as the only viable challengers to The Artist. Going all the way back to the year BAFTA changed their date to occur BEFORE the Oscars, the Best Picture winner was at least a BAFTA nominee for Best Picture, except, as I’ve said, with Million Dollar Baby, which was not eligible.
But we’re only talking ten years of BAFTOSCAR history. I’d like to think that we can still shape the frosting before it sets. But it’s looking more and more like this year will simply play out as many have been predicting since the whole thing began.
The herding cats nature of the BAFTAS can sometimes be refreshing. But in terms of the Oscar race it loses its influence since nomination ballots have long since been turned in. Although most readers of this website will likely disagree with me, I don’t think two of the movies nominated for Best Picture can get anywhere near Hugo. Not even close. I understand that British people think differently about American directors using British people. Just as British people tend to like movies about Americans that Americans don’t like as much (like American Gangster, for instance), the BAFTAs have really lost some of their significance to me today, by shutting out Hugo, what I consider to be the best film of 2011.
But happy for the Drive fans — of which there are many.