Posted Jan 07 2016
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BAFTA Watch - 2016 Noms - The Pre-Show Or: What To Expect When You're Expecting

First-Round voting for this year’s BAFTA awards closed at noon this past Monday, the 4th. (We know because we voted.) Stephen Fry and the blessed Gugu Mbatha-Raw will announce the nominations this Friday morning at BAFTA HQ in London’s Piccadilly at the ungodly hour of 7.35 a.m.

So what can we expect to be waking up to early Friday? Although there is always some form of consensus when it comes to awards season, there is also room for variation. And while BAFTA moved its ceremony ahead of the Oscars several years back to avoid feeling like the poor relation, whilst there will inevitably be a fair amount of cross-over with the American Academy, BAFTA is still very much it’s own beast.

We’ve been hanging around BAFTA’s London HQ (we mean the bar) a good deal these past few months, attending screenings in the site’s Princess Anne Theatre (named for…somebody or other), as well as numerous other BAFTA screenings dotted throughout screens big and small across the West End. And here’s some of what we know – the big local players are 45 Years and Brooklyn. Add Lady In The Van to that list in terms of local sentiment. The real question is how they’ll play in the nominations. Expect Charlotte Rampling, the brilliant Saoirse Ronan and Maggie Smith to all feature in the Best Actress category, but as to the films themselves, that’s another question. One of the unique elements of the BAFTAs is the Outstanding British Film category, which can result in a good deal of strategic voting. So whilst Bennett’s Lady is very much liked, the question has been - is it a strong enough contender for the Best Film category? Probably not, so expect to see it “relegated” (if that’s the right term – and sometimes it feels like it is) to Outstanding British Film. The same fate could also befall 45 Years, which is much loved by the British Academy – and will reap many nods. But here’s where it gets complicated – there’s such goodwill for this movie that it might well play in the Best Film category. However, if people do go ahead and vote with their strategy hat on, positioning it in British Film is an almost guaranteed win.

Sticking with that old age saga, expect to see Tom Courtenay in the Best Actor run down (for that final speech alone) where we’re expecting to see him up against Mickey Fass, even though, like everywhere else, the fantastic Steve Jobs seems to have gone down with its box office, and talk amongst the locals has been hushed at best.

One movie, however, that worked for everyone is the feel good lonely planet hit of the year, the one the Golden Globes found so funny they labelled it a comedy – The Martian. Everyone loves Matt Damon so expect to see him here going head to head with Leo. Sadly, there’s a feeling that Leo this year is the legacy vote – “Well, we’ve got to, haven’t we?” And The Revenant overall has had a curiously muted reception from the BAFTA voters. We were at its first major London screening on the Empire’s IMAX screen one Sunday afternoon and, as the credits rolled, no one applauded for several minutes – the whole room was just in shock. They finally found their hands when Leo and a previously unannounced Tom Hardy showed up for shits and giggles afterwards. Leo was lovely but oh so serious (we all know how much he wants this one) whilst Hardy just basically joked and said he couldn’t give a fuck. Leo will definitely get the nomination (as indeed will the film) but there’s a feeling abroad that it’s a film to admire rather than love. (And another that basically says he should’ve won it for Wolf of Wall Street a couple of years back.)

Which brings us briefly to the misguided mess that is The Danish Girl. Eddie – they love the local kids!! – will almost certainly be up there – unjustly. Alicia Vikander should be – deservedly – but we’re thinking they’re going Supporting rather than Lead. As to the film itself? It’s been getting some very average reviews in the UK (deservedly) and no one round the bar seems to have that Girl on the tip of their tongue.

Meanwhile, back at The Martian – there’s an awful lot of goodwill toward Sir Ridders who frankly hasn’t made a good ‘un since Gladiator. He’s going to lead on Best Director and the film has a real shot at Best Film as well, a nomination it already has in the bag.

Spielberg and Hanks came over a few weeks back for a jammed to the rafters BAFTA screening of Bridge of Spies in Chelsea that played like gangbusters. The movie, and their subsequent Q&A, got so many laughs that we’re surprised the Globes didn’t list it as Best Sitcom. It has a real chance of nabbing that fifth ticket with Spielberg – a long-time BAFTA fave – all but guaranteed a seat at the Best Director’s table. It’s something that seems to be repeating all over this year’s awards – the old reliable is creeping in there and stealing some of the thunder. And as for Mark Rylance – Stephen Fry might as well hand him the golden face right there and then on Friday morning. Rylance is from “the theatre, dahling” and yes, we still fall for that over here. Big time! His only reasonable competition comes from Stallone – but Creed (which has yet to open in the UK) was not widely screened for voters, and no screeners were sent out. So, if Sly gets in there, it will really be a case of those that have seen it throwing their oar in (we did!) even if it is for slightly sentimental reasons.

Other movies we see as being shut out? Well, Room is another that hasn’t opened yet, and despite its Irish director and amazing performances, it doesn’t seem to be being discussed much around the scene. (Although screeners were widely available, so it might well be one that got picked up on at home – but how many people said “Who wants to watch the Fritzl movie?” straight after Christmas lunch?)

Love & Mercy was another one that wasn’t awarded any form of campaign over here so don’t expect that to show.

Straight Outta Compton was the first screener sent out this year but seems to have fallen largely on Def ears.

And Inside Out remains untroubled in the animation stakes (despite much love for Shaun The Sheep) as Anomalisa has yet to even barely screen in this country – bar a stint as the Surprise Film at last year’s London Film Fest back in October.

Another movie that has screened but reaction is muted to is The Big Short. It’s yet to open theatrically but – for better or worse – there seems to be a feeling that both this and Spotlight are two American “issue” led movies, both featuring an all-star ensemble tackling weighty subjects. And people just like Spotlight more – after all, it’s about paedo priests and we know a thing or two about that in the UK (witness similar Catholic church territory in Philomena a couple of years back.)

Other than that – we’re thinking Kate Winslett is a lock for Best Supporting in Steve Jobs. The much-loved local girl did a pre-Christmas “A Life In Pictures” talk on stage at BAFTA Piccadilly shortly before Christmas and brought the house down.

Michael Caine remains an outside chance in the Best Actor race for Youth, again following a really well received post-screening Q&A a few weeks back. (Yes, the BAFTA voters are star fuckers – but isn’t everyone who votes this time of year? Just check out what Ricky Gervais has to say at the Globes this Sunday.)

We’re also seeing Carol getting a fair amount of love this Friday, in the Best Film, Director and Actress categories. Although there seems to be far more talk about Mara, it’s likely she’ll end up in Best Supporting, giving Winslett a serious run for her money. We’re also hoping to see the great Anne-Marie Duff in that category for Suffragette, a once heavily touted film that may well get a nod in Outstanding British, but little else. (Deservedly.)

Docs wise we’re expecting He Named Me Malala and The Look of Silence to both be there to duke it out – probably against the much enjoyed Listen To Me, Marlon -  with the emotive Malala eventually picking up the award.

In the screenplay categories – never rule out Tarantino and Sorkin – but that’s not really something that’s unique to BAFTA. (Camden’s self-loathing Alan Bennett will also be named.)

Which of course leaves the late-in-the-day wild card that is Star Wars The Force Awakens. BAFTA laid on an unprecedented weekday lunchtime screening of Episode VII on Thursday, December 17 – the day it opened in the UK – and was sold out in mere seconds. The attendant audience went nuts.

That same evening, Disney laid on another screening for voters at the much bigger Vue cinema in nearby Leicester Square, with JJ, Ford, Fisher, Boyega, Ridley, Kasdan and more in attendance to hang after. It was jammed beyond belief, and – the attendant audience went nuts. (We know, we ended up at both.) Like everywhere else, there’s a great deal of love for JJ’s return to that far, far away galaxy. So there’s every possibility that it might just sneak in and nab a Best Picture nod, possibly even send some love JJ’s way for Director. (In the interests of transparency, at least one of us here at Last Word Towers put it number four of five on their ballot paper submitted Monday.)

But hey, enough of our yakking. Over to you Stephen and Gugu…

 

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