by Callum Petch (Screened: @jackanderson, Twitter: @CallumPetch)
There’s one last stop on the road to this year’s Academy Awards when it comes to voting bodies handing out awards for what were supposedly the best films of the last 12 months and that is the 67th Annual British Academy Film Awards; better known as the 2014 BAFTAs. And, in his infinite sunny optimism, our benevolent leaderhas allowed myself, the unofficial British branch of Screened.com, the pleasure of guiding you through the nominees in 11 of the major categories, giving you a clue as to who should win, who will win and other pithy observations that I can make in a vague attempt to make this process interesting and a vain attempt to make myself seem funny. Don’t take these predictions to mean that these are absolute dead certs, mind. BAFTA have yet to recognise my considerable talents, so I have no idea as to who is actually winning anything. These are just educated guesses. So don’t come crying to me if you lose money at the office pool/betting shop/loan shark convention. All that said, let’s begin the wild internet speculation! TITANS, GO!
Who Should Win: 12 Years A Slave, no question. You know those films that you go and watch, that you may have some issues and problems with, but you still enjoyed (in the sense of the word that you felt like your time was well spent and you were impressed by many facets of the film) and, in fact, the further removed you are from watching it, the more that film sticks with you and you realise that you’ve seen An Important Film? And I mean “An Important Film” in the sense that you can tell this will be the kind of film that’s talked about for decades afterwards and hailed as an important touchstone in the way that an issue was presented and treated by people, not in the “An Important Film” way that, say, Dallas Buyers Club is which, though no offence to the film itself (it’s pretty decent), is still a bog-standard biopic depiction of the Buyers Clubs that sprang up around America during the Aids crisis?
Yeah, that’s 12 Years A Slave. The further removed that I get from having experienced that film, the more I recognise its importance: a film about slavery that makes absolutely no attempt to water down the horror and physical and psychological trauma of its subject matter by either romanticising the South or using it as fuel for a revenge flick. This is not a feel-good movie, this is not comfortable viewing, this is bleak, oppressive and unbearable filmmaking; one which should, if there is any justice left in this world, finally kill the romanticised Civil War American South viewpoint stone cold dead. This is the kind of film that needs to win Best Picture, if only to send that message as loud as possible. It also helps that it is the best film of the nominees by a considerable margin.
Who Will Win: This is 12 Years A Slave’s award to lose, quite frankly. There’s been this weird narrative emerging recently where the press have positioned Gravity as 12 Years’ bitter, neck-and-neck rival, but I have a very good feeling that it’s just the press trying to inject some excitement into a foregone conclusion. Know, however, that if American Hustle or Philomena take the honours over 12 Years(Hustle has the momentum and Philomena has the “it’s a British film” advantage), I will, as the kids say, flip my metaphorical sh*t.
Other Notes: Philomena is the only one of the nominees I haven’t seen (ditto at the Oscars, too) because I genuinely thought that nobody was going to fall for this blatant piece of Oscar bait (and it looked like garbage). Disappointed to be proven wrong in that regard, but, nevertheless, I will refrain from crapping all over it sight unseen. Though I do believe it’s too inconsistent to fully deserve its placement in here, I am pleasantly surprised by Captain Phillips’ inclusion. More problematic, meanwhile, is American Hustle, a movie that is bewilderingly receiving all the nods of approval despite being the definition of “meh”. I can name 10 films from 2013 more deserving of its slot here (in fact, I did, technically) and let’s not even mention the masterwork that is Inside Llewyn Davis getting snubbed, shall we?
Who Should Win: Honestly, I dunno. Steve McQueen is one of the best filmmakers working today (I’m going to assume that you are already familiar withHunger and Shame) and his emotionally detached filmmaking style worked gangbusters for 12 Years A Slave. However, Alfonso Cuarón almost effortlessly kept Gravity held together. That film is the movie equivalent of a rollercoaster ride and if any one part of it was slightly below par, the whole thing would have been derailed. Cuarón avoided that with ease and he deserves immense props for it. But then there’s Scorsese and I love Scorsese and I want to see Scorsese win so that, if nothing else, I can hear him talk for at least 3 minutes. I’m not even going to pick, I’ll be fine with any of these three taking it.
Who Will Win: Momentum dictates that Cuarón has this one sewn up, he did recently take home top honours at the Director’s Guild Awards, but I’m not so sure. BAFTA are hard to read when it comes to these things, and I think McQueen has a great chance of snatching a surprise victory here, especially since, much like with the Oscars, no black director has ever taken home the statue (to my knowledge) so that makes a great story. It all depends if BAFTA want to pull off the Film/Director award split, like they did with The King’s Speech/The Social Network in 2011, or not, like withThe Artist in 2011. Gun to my head, I’d say that Cuarón takes it with Gravity handily losing Best Picture to 12 Years A Slave as a compromise.
Other Notes: Fun Fact: My mentioning of it will have been the first time that you will have thought about The Artist in two years.
Nominees: Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld (American Hustle), Bruce Dern as Woody Grant (Nebraska), Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort (The Wolf of Wall Street), Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup (12 Years A Slave), Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips (Captain Phillips)
Who Should Win: Much like with the Best Director category, I am undecided between three of the candidates. DiCaprio has been due forever and a half and, unlike other people who have been due forever by the time they get their due, he is on career-best form as Belfort. Unfortunately, he picked the time to do so when Chiwetel Ejiofor turned in a quietly superb performance as Solomon Northup. It’s not as showy as DiCaprio, not by a long shot, but Solomon’s quiet determination to survive and the slow erosion of his hope is expertly depicted by Ejiofor, a character actor who is now finally getting the dues he deserves. But then there’s the wildcard known as Tom Hanks, who was always strong throughout Captain Phillips, though not Tom Hanks levels of strong, but then went transcendentally incredible in those final 10 minutes, a sequence that was improvised need I remind you, and turned his work in here to career best levels. Gah, I don’t know! Throw a dart at a board! That’s the one I pick!
Who Will Win: With Matthew McConaughey nowhere in sight (he is going to go over at the Oscars so, if that annoys you, get your disappointment out of the way now so that the rest of us can be satisfied by the development), I see this field wide open all as. Any of the nominees are in with an equal enough chance of taking home the statue, with the exceptions of Bale and Dern, and trying to call it is a foolhardy endeavour. Of course, my entire life is a foolhardy endeavour, so I’m going to call it for Ejiofor by virtue of closing my eyes and pointing in the direction of the nominees on my laptop screen.
Other Notes: I’m going to assume that Christian Bale is purely up for this award for getting fat. That man is going to kill himself for his art, one day, just you watch. Also, although Bruce Dern is the definition of good in Nebraska (which itself is the definition of a good film), the fact that he’s getting plaudits thrown at him for his work in it but Will Forte and Bob Odenkirk go unappreciated for their much more nuanced work than just about everyone else in that film is just plain weird.
Nominees: Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser (American Hustle), Cate Blanchettas Jeanette Francis (Blue Jasmine), Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone (Gravity),Judi Dench as Philomena Lee (Philomena), Emma Thompson as P. L. Travers (Saving Mr. Banks)
Who Should Win: By process of the fact that I have only seen two of these films, I have to give it to Sandra Bullock, although she did impress the hell out of me inGravity. I hear that Blue Jasmine is brilliant, but it never played anywhere near me so I have to wait for it to hit Blu-Ray later this month.
Who Will Win: Flip a coin, there’s your answer. In all seriousness, this is a straight fight between Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett with Judi Dench as the wildcard, because Judi Dench is always the wildcard. I’m leaning more towards Blanchett as she’s the one with the momentum but that’s assuming that momentum actually means anything with the way that awards are handled.
Other Notes: As much as I like Amy Adams, she should be stricken from this and all other Best Actress in a 2013 Film lists for that abominable attempt at an English accent she slips into and out of at seemingly random points throughoutAmerican Hustle. You Americans may have accepted it, because you don’t know any better, but I and every single one of my friends and people who I’ve talked to in general can confirm that nobody in England does or has ever talked like that.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Muse (Captain Phillips), Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda (Rush), Bradley Cooper as Richie DiMaso (American Hustle), Matt Damon as Scott Thorson (Behind The Candelabra), Michael Fassbender as Edwin Epps (12 Years A Slave)
Who Should Win: You know, I could claim that this is a tough one to decide on, but I’d just be straight up lying and, quite honestly, I’ve never really been good at that. I want to see Fassbender take it. The guy was magnetic, repulsive and absolutely frakkin’ terrifying in 12 Years A Slave and deserves it 100%. Nobody else on that list came anywhere near close.
Who Will Win: Fassbender, finally giving him the BAFTA nod he should have received two years back for Shame. Seriously, people, watch Shame.
Other Notes: Consider me pleasantly surprised to see Daniel Brühl get a nomination for Rush. I may have been thoroughly disappointed by that film, but both Brühl and Chris Hemsworth were fantastic in it and, in a better world, would have had a better movie to hang those performances off of. Ditto on the surprise for Barkhad Abdi, receiving major nods (deservedly so) for his first ever cinematic performance. I honestly thought his work in Captain Phillips would go unnoticed by most award bodies and I’m glad to be proven wrong. I’m assuming that Bradley Cooper is here as a show of solidarity for having to have permed hair for a 2 hour+ movie cos it certainly can’t be down to his work in that film.
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Sally Hawkins as Ginger (Blue Jasmine), Jennifer Lawrence as Rosalyn Rosenfeld (American Hustle), Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey (12 Years A Slave), Julia Roberts as Barbara Weston-Fordham (August: Osage County), Oprah Winfrey as Gloria Gaines (Lee Daniels’ The Butler)
Who Should Win: Unquestionably, Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey in 12 Years A Slave. I’m just going to assume that you’ve all already seen the film and leave my argument at that. Oh, why, oh, why has she been nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category?! I mean, not only is she the lead actress in 12 Years, more problematically, she’s going to get steamrolled by....
Who Will Win: ...Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle. Look, I love Jennifer Lawrence just like you and every other human being on the planet (and if you don’t, you’re either deluding yourself or you haven’t seen her reaction to meeting Damon Lewis and a celeb news reporter ruining Homeland Season 3 for her), and she was by far the best thing about American Hustle but it’s not the Best Supporting Female Performance of 2013. I’m sorry, but it’s not, and that’s by a considerable margin. I mean, I’ll probably cease my complaining when she actually gets up on stage, but until then I’m going to keep sighing and shaking my head.
Other Notes: Now, more culturally aware readers may, at this point, be going: “Err, Callum, why is August: Osage County up for something? That didn’t come out in the UK until January 24th 2014. In fact, why are even half of these films, like Wolf of Wall Street and12 Years A Slave and American Hustle, up for awards as they didn’t get a UK release until post-December 31st 2013?” And that’s a very good question. One which I am assuming the BAFTA voting committee answers by yelling out in panic, throwing a smoke bomb on the ground and jumping out of the nearest window when confronted.
Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine, Joel & Ethan Coen for Inside Llewyn Davis, Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón for Gravity, Bob Nelson for Nebraska,Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russell for American Hustle
Who Should Win: The Coen Brothers for Inside Llewyn Davis. That is the absolute definition of a masterful frakkin’ screenplay right there. Simultaneously absolutely hilarious, endlessly miserable and sad and pleasingly melancholic, it’s a harder set of tones to juggle than one might think and, much like they’ve done for their entire career, the duo nail it effortlessly. There’s one line near the hour and ten mark that managed to provoke two separate responses from me on the two times that I have seen this film, both on extreme ends on the reaction scale but both perfectly acceptable reactions to it. Please give the Coens the nod, BAFTA! I beg of you!
Who Will Win: Well, not the Coens, I can guarantee you that much, and certainly not Bob Nelson’s script for Nebraska, either. I see this as a contest predominately between Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine and Singer and Russell for American Hustle and I’m more inclined to believe that Allen will come out on top because Allen usually comes out on top with these things. If you’re still not sold, then don’t put money on Allen but do put money on the crowd giving him a very muted reception if he does win.
Other Notes: No, I am not going anywhere near the latest allegations in the Woody Allen/Mia Farrow saga seeing as all I know is the limited information that has made available and which I have been informed is not the whole truth from either side. Let’s leave it at that. Also, no offense to Gravity and I had no problems with that film’s dialogue, but that’s not exactly a screenplay you sit down with and go, “Yes! This was absolutely the best part of that film!” Also also, no The World’s End nod? Well, I can’t say that I’m surprised, but I am disappointed.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope for Philomena, Richard LaGravenese forBehind The Candelabra, Billy Ray for Captain Phillips, John Ridley for 12 Years A Slave, Terence Winter for The Wolf of Wall Street
Who Should Win: You know, I was all set to just type the words “Terence Winter” and move on with my life, but a while back my friend Jackson pointed out that parts of The Wolf of Wall Street screenplay don’t fully sync up with what was depicted in the film, pointing out the “I f*cked my cousin because I didn’t want anyone else to f*ck her” exchange sequence specifically as something that wasn’t in the screenplay. This got me to wondering, “Well, if that brilliant sequence was improvised and not actually in the screenplay, then what else was improvised?” And now I don’t feel comfortable handing the award to this screenplay, because it seems like some of its best moments were made up by the actors as they went. So... I dunno. I hear that 12 Years A Slave was pretty good?
Who Will Win: It’s going to Terence Winter in the sole award that The Wolf of Wall Street will actually leave with on the night. I’d bet money on it being WoWS’ only win, but I kinda need to save the money for transport to this Arcade Fire concert I’ve got tickets for in June, so... yeah.
Other Notes: Non-Americans may be asking, “Callum, why is Behind The Candelabra up for awards? Wasn’t that a TV movie?” In America, yes. In the UK, however, it managed to find a distributor and got a cinema release where, guess what, it made money. So maybe let Hollywood know that next time it shoots down a movie for being “too gay”, hmm?
Outstanding British Film
Who Should Win: You might notice something about all but two of these nominees. That something would be that, excluding The Selfish Giant andPhilomena (and even that’s debateable, for we all know the power that The Weinstein Company can exert on its releases), none of these are exactly British movies. Some (some, not all) are at least partly funded by British coin, some were shot in England and some... well, Saving Mr. Banks and Mandela use a British actor or two and that’s enough for qualification, I guess? Look, I don’t feel comfortable handing this award to films that aren’t truly British, which is why it goes to The Selfish Giant. I haven’t seen it, but I’ve heard it’s good and it’s way more British than bloody Gravity is!
Who Will Win: None of the ones that aren’t also nominated for Best Picture, so let’s get that out of the way. Quite honestly, I see this being the award thatPhilomena picks up. Gravity isn’t winning Best Picture, as we’ve already discussed, but it’s also likely to take home other awards and Philomena isn’t. Plus, Philomena is the more obviously British film and BAFTA have been taking heat for this category ever since the nominees were announced, so this would save face quickest for them.
Other Notes: Was 2013 really that crappy a year for British film that you couldn’t find six nominees to fill out an “Outstanding British Film” category? Look, you can keep Philomena and The Selfish Giant. You know what else was apparently good? Good Vibrations, nominated under Outstanding British Debut (which I skipped as I’ve seen precisely zero of those nominees) yet completely shut out here. Again, The World’s End is sat right there! There! You’ve got four already! If you’re desperate, you could put Rush back in there, too! Point is, there were British films worth everybody’s time released last year and you could have easily filled the category with them without having to stretch its definition to the absolute limit.
Best Animated Movie
Who Should Win: Frozen. How is this even a debate, really?
Who Will Win: That sound you’re hearing is that of The Disney Animation Awards Dump Truck(TM) pulling into the car park of the BAFTA offices to collect yet another trophy for Frozen. If you have money on anything else, you are wilfully burning your cash away. Know that.
Other Notes: Man, 2013 was a miserable year for Feature Animation, wasn’t it?Wreck-It Ralph was technically from 2012, From Up On Poppy Hill was technically from 2011, Monsters University really wasn’t that great... that just left Despicable Me 2, which was fun but flawed and forgettable, and Frozen, which I am adamant will be worthy of a re-rating to 5 stars once I see it again. That’s pretty much it. 2014, meanwhile, has already had The Lego Movie and Mr. Peabody & Shermanand it’s only two months old! Here’s hoping that I’m talking about snubbings in this category, next year, and not lamenting the state of Western feature film animation.
EE’s Rising Star Award (Voted by the public)
Who Should Win: Nyong’o was spectacular in 12 Years A Slave, yes, but Dane DeHaan has been impressing me for close to half a decade by this point (where are my fellow In Treatment fans? All seven of you...) so I’m rooting for him, here. If nothing else, I want him to pull out of the career tailspin he’s about to get involved in by following that stupid bloody Metallica movie with a role in The Amazing Spider-man 2.
Who Will Win: How the hell should I know? Since when have The Public conformed to what makes sense or is blindingly obvious?
Other Notes: Will Poulter may be familiar to a bunch of you as one of the kids from Son of Rambow, Eustace from one of those Chronicles of Narnia films they keep making for some bewildering reason, and that-one-guy-but-who-cares-JENNIFER-ANISTON-BOOBIES from We’re The Millers. He’s been nominated because he’s about to appear in The Maze Runner, otherwise known as Attempt To Find The Next Harry Potter/Hunger Games/Some Young Adult Book Series That Will Print Money #6,201. So, there’s that.
Well, those are all of the major awards. Or, at least, the awards I’m prepared to go through because it is gone 1am and this Word document is now into its seventh page. If you want a full list of the nominees, you can find them here. Think I’ve got any of the categories wrong? Think that any of the categories themselves are just plain wrong? Or just want to quizzically question the BAFTA eligibility rules? Leave them in the comments below and roll on Sunday!