Posted Feb 15 2018
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Last Word Calls The BAFTAs 2018

It is indeed that time again, and this year doesn’t the whole Awards Season thing seem to have been going on for, well, ever?? The deadline for BAFTA voting 2018 passed just a couple of hours ago and those of us that are card-carrying members here at Last Word Towers were sure to hit the “Submit” button before 6 PM local time rolled round.

But what a difficult year it’s been! Divisive more than incisive, with much of everything – this late in the game – still not making itself apparent. As ever, we have spent the past several months monitoring life at BAFTA’s Piccadilly HQ, attending screenings, quizzing fellow members for their preferences, propping up the bar – the usual. And this Season we’ve done it with some fine company, hanging with the likes of Daniel Day Lewis (who confirmed to us that yes, he is still definitely retiring), PTA, Guillermo, Saoirse and Greta, Christopher Nolan and the wife (we call them “Chris & Em” after several meet ups), Frances McD, Woody H, Sam R, Martin Mc, the blessed Hugh Grant (met him in the toilet), the equally blessed Kristen S T (didn’t meet her in the toilet – sadly), Alison Janney, Lesley Manville, Annette Bening, Jonny Greenwood, Andy Serkis and many, many more. All of whom tried desperately to sway us and lure our vote in their direction. But we cannot be bought (or maybe they just weren’t trying hard enough.)

Still, after all that schmoozing and buying of/being bought plenty of glasses of cheap wine – we’re not that much the wiser.

But certain rumblings have become apparent. Whether they follow on till Awards Day (this coming Sunday, February 18) remains to be seen. For now though, we’re here to predict the future and tell you how it’s going to be. We’re pretty sure we might get some of these right!

As is ever the case, what follows is not a reflection of how we voted – we still go down the sentimental route and hope for the (unlikely) best.  This is instead the names we think you’ll be hearing via Joanna Lumley and others’ dulcet tones come Sunday. Check back on the night and see if we got it right.

So, let’s start with the biggie -

BEST PICTURE – and in many ways this is the hardest it’s been to call in years. Yes, The Shape Of Water got the most noms, but we don’t see BAFTA going all the way with this one (particularly as many of them have actually seen Creature From the Black Lagoon, ET, Splash and others. Ouch – saucer of milk at the Last Word table please.) So that clearly leaves the richly deserving Three Billboards. But Three Billboards, despite all appearances, is a British film, which muddies the waters here. And, given that Lady Bird was stupidly ignored in this category (despite a strong screening campaign and Greta and Saoirse putting themselves out there since last October) that leaves us with World War II. The Brits have always had, and continue to have, a big thing for a big war. Especially one we won! Now, there is the distinct possibility that having Churchill (Darkest Hour) and Churchill’s actions (Dunkirk) doing the face off thing here could cancel each other out. But the Brits have also always loved Chris Nolan (and he pressed a good deal of flesh this season – we were hanging with him three days in a row at one point) so, despite the film having lost favour almost universally in the rest of the Awards glamour so far, BAFTA is where Dunkirk gets its due and makes its comeback. Darkest Hour is going to get its due as well (relax Gary – they’ve already engraved it for you) so Nolan’s beautiful epic goes against what seems to be the turning of the awards’ tide towards more contemporary, socially relevant movies, and BAFTA rewards classicism – albeit really challenging, beautifully realised and unconventionally structured “new” classicism. (Unless of course, everyone goes a little bit mental and Get Out wins it…)

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM – So Three Billboards is a British film, but – despite its director, majority cast and subject matter – Dunkirk is not? There is of course still every possibility that Billboards could take Best Picture, and patriotism-on-the-tube Darkest Hour sneaks in here. But Gary’s got that one covered. This is the way BAFTA gets to reward both McDonagh AND Nolan. This solves the problem – the Brits claim the Billboards as their own.

BEST DIRECTOR – Now don’t get us wrong – despite a certain lack of enthusiasm for The Shape Of Water (simple explanation – it’s just not Guillermo’s best work) we would still be happy for him to triumph here and have his moment. And trust us, we’re convinced that is what will happen at the Oscars a couple of weeks later. (Guillermo gets Best Director, Billboards gets Best Film – but we’ll come to that in another column.) No, this one has Chris Nolan’s name on it. Whilst the rest of the world may not have been able to think all the way back to July of last year, (and God knows the industry zeitgeist has shifted notably since then – hence the whole Get Out thing), the BAFTA crowd have remained loyal and loving to Nolan and his remarkable movie. (Plus BAFTA had the good sense not to nominate novice Jordan Peel and to recognise the great work of Blade Runner’s Denis Villeneuve as well.) So this is where Nolan gets his very deserved glory – a blow to all those who proclaim his movies not emotional enough. They are wildly emotional – you just need a stiff upper lip to realise that.

LEADING ACTOR -  Here’s a question for Gary Oldman – Gary, was any one else even nominated for this this year? What? You didn’t look? No, nobody did! (Very well deserved of course – but we’d quietly love to see Daniel Day Lewis sneak in here and upset both apples and cart.)

LEADING ACTRESS – Another example of two choices, and our desire for both of them to win. But that cannot be. So whilst we’d love to see Saoirse Ronan pick this one up, the brilliant Lady Bird has been somewhat lost on the BAFTA bods. That said, from the moment we saw Three Billboards back in October, we knew this was going home with Frances McDormand. And we couldn’t be happier for her.

SUPPORTING ACTOR – As good at it is and as good as he is in it, The Florida Project doesn’t seem to have set the BAFTA world alight, so Willem Dafoe – whose Awards Season star has been waning for quite a while now – is more of a token nomination here that a real contender. Leaving Sam Rockwell to move into pole position – with the possibility that his co star Harrelson might split the vote. But we don’t see that happening. If anything, we see Rockwell’s most serious competition coming from Hugh Grant who, shortly before Christmas, gave A Life In Pictures talk at BAFTA HQ that brought the house down and endeared him even more to everyone on hand. (It’s probably on the website – bafta.org – have a look.) He’s a real threat…but we see Rockwell ultimately triumphing. Racist or not.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS – In the States the battle is between Metcalfe (should win) and Janney (will win.) But over here, BAFTA are playing the parochial card and the real fight is between Lesley Manville and Kristen Scott Thomas. Veteran Manville has a lot of support amongst the Academy and is long overdue some awards love. But, good as she and the film are, her role in The Phantom Thread is one of the movie’s most subdued elements, whilst Scott Thomas really gets to go to town in a very pleasing way in Darkest Hour. Plus she had the lead in the much admired The Party also this year. And she did one of those A Life In Pictures talks just before Christmas, which, whilst nowhere near as funny as her former Four Weddings co-star Grant’s, was still an absolute delight. So, Kristin take a bow. (Although if Manville did win, it would mean that Oldman and his former wife both went home with gongs on the same night – one for trivia buffs in years to come!)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Now this is a category which this year more than most feels like a throw the dog a bone scenario. Is this where Get Out and Jordan Peele gets some form of acknowledgment? (And BAFTA shows the world they done woke?) Or do they use this to tell Martin McDonagh that they do love him and his film – even though he’s not getting Best Director? Or is here the place where the massive slight of Lady Bird is addressed? We’re going with Greta and the latter. Not because there was some genuine surprise, especially amongst the younger Academy members, that LB didn’t play stronger in the nominations. Not because it’s “timely” and Gerwig’s “a woman.” But, simply, because it’s a brilliant, beautiful, deeply felt and deeply moving piece of work. (And should’ve been up for Best Film.)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – We asked several other people around BAFTA and yes, they also all thought James Ivory died years ago! But apparently not. So, partly for just being alive, partly for the fab job he did on Call Me By Your Name, and partly because Paddington 2 isn’t really an “adaptation”, more a “based on” – the gold goes to Ivory.

ORIGINAL MUSIC – This is one of the toughest calls of all. We’ve been torn for months between the industrial brilliance of Hans Zimmer and the unexpected edgy romanticism of Jonny Greenwood. (And in any other year, Alexander Desplat’s splendid Shape Of Water would be a clear winner.) But we see this going to Dunkirk and Zimmer, whose score not only blends seamlessly with the film’s whole sound design, but becomes its pacing mechanism, finds its heart, and, in its own unique way, almost becomes the very sound of Nolan’s movie breathing.

So by now, you’ve probably guessed that we’re predicting something of a Dunkirk uprising this coming Sunday. So while we’re at it, we see it doing rather well on the tech side, adding SOUND and EDITING to its haul. It has a fair shot at CINEMATOGRAPHY for Hoyte van Hoytema as well – but if Roger Deakins doesn’t get this for Blade Runner 2049, we think the whole auditorium should just get up, walk out, and blow Joanna a kiss as they go.

Speaking of Blade Runner, we’re saying it has PRODUCTION DESIGN wrapped up as well.

Staying with the tech side of things – Victoria & Abdul finally gets a look in with MAKE UP & HAIR, Phantom Thread, correctly, walks away with COSTUME DESIGN, and SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS goes to WAR! WAR! WAR! (For The Planet Of The Apes – in case you didn’t get it.)

DOCUMENTARY – This is between Icarus – Russian doping, timely in light of the happening-right-now Winter Olympics. And Jane – cute monkeys. We know how the BAFTA mindset works. So…cute monkeys all the way. Them BAFTA. You Jane.

ANIMATED FILM – Coco. Knew it the second we saw it. And so did everyone else.

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE We’d love to see Verhoeven’s Elle take this – after all it is by far the funniest of what is a pretty wrought category. But it was released soooo long ago that we’re surprised it even made the list. The Handmaiden was sumptuous to look at but left a lot of people cold. Loveless is also about leaving people cold, but seems to have won a strong level of support amongst the BAFTA types. So we’re calling on Loveless to get some love.

OUSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER – The Ghoul just wasn’t that good, I Am Not A Witch is a strong contender, but Lady MacBeth has had a lot of support for many months now, so, well done that Lady. (Is it still OK to call her a “Lady”?)

Which, finally, leads us to the final award – the EE RISING STAR AWARD. As is always the case, this tends to go to the young person who’s been in the biggest films this year. So – Daniel Kaluuya, come on down. (Won’t hurt that the Get Out star is currently in the world’s Number 1 movie Black Panther as he takes to the stage.)

Oh, and really finally – the prediction we are 100%, most definitely confident about – Ridley Scott will get this year’s Fellowship. Hope he gives a grumpy speech. (And then next night, he’s doing one of those Life In Pictures talks we mentioned – we’ll be there.)

 So, there you have it. We’ve called it – and we’re pretty darn sure we’re right!

Come back Sunday night (we’re once again kind of live-blogging the whole thing) and see if the rest of our fellow BAFTA voters also got it right this time.

 

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