Last night’s Bafta Film Awards delivered few surprises, and paved the way for several of the winners (full list here) to pick up the equivalent awards at the Oscars later this month – just as soon as they’ve finished warming themselves up from the sub-zero temperatures of the red carpet.
After winning the Golden Globe and SAG Best Actor awards along with his Bafta, The Revenant’s Leonardo DiCaprio looks like a shoo-in for the top acting gong at the Hollywood ceremony, and Brie Larson seems pretty locked in after winning all three awards as well. Still, there could be a surprise there – Larson’s in a strong category this year, so Jennifer Lawrence, Charlotte Rampling, Saoirse Ronan or Cate Blanchett could steal it from under her nose.
Elsewhere in the major awards it was The Revenant’s night as Alejandro G. Iñárritu picked up gongs for Best Director and Best Picture, and if he repeats his likely success in the Oscars it’ll be the first time since Joseph L Mankiewicz’s double win in 1949/1950 that someone has won back-to-back directing Oscars (after Iñárritu’s win for Birdman last year). A director has NEVER won back-to-back Best Pictures before, so it would be an extremely big deal all round.
The Revenant’s Alejandro G. Iñárritu with star Leonardo DiCaprio
But then of course the Bafta Best Picture/Best Director winners aren’t always a precursor of Oscar success. Just last year Iñárritu and his film Birdman were overlooked this side of the pond in favour of Richard Linklater and his coming-of-age epic Boyhood, and this year movies like Spotlight and The Big Short (which won Baftas for original and adapted screenplay last night, a feat they’re likely to repeat at the Oscars) could give The Revenant a run for its money in a country where their very American stories resonate more with voters.
It’s also worth noting that the Producer’s Guild of America, the Screen Actors’ Guild and the Directors’ Guild of America usually all choose the eventual winner of the Oscar for their own Best Picture awards, but this year in an extremely rare twist they’ve all gone different ways – PGA for The Big Short, DGA for The Revenant and SAG for Spotlight – so it could still be anyone’s game. In fact, given the PGA win the edge might be given to recession comedy-drama The Big Short, as the PGA switched to the same ballot system as the Oscars in 2009 and has accurately predicted every Best Picture winner since then. So maybe Iñárritu won’t be making movie history just yet.
In the remaining major categories it seems likely that Mark Rylance’s Supporting Actor win for Bridge of Spies will stand him in good stead (though Sylvester Stallone’s big comeback in Creed might just leave the Wolf Hall actor out for the count), while Kate Winslet’s Supporting Actress triumph as Joanna Hoffman in Steve Jobs might struggle in a strong category including Alicia Vikander, Rachel McAdams, Rooney Mara and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Best Supporting Actress winner Kate Winslet
And of course there were a lot of snubs last night, bound to leave actors and filmmakers going to the February 28th Oscars ceremony with a little less hope. Despite picking up the most nominations at the Baftas (nine in total) Todd Haynes’ Carol went home empty-handed, and considering it’s nominated for even fewer Oscars (including an absence from big categories Best Film and Best Director) it’s not looking great for the Cate Blanchett/Rooney Mara lesbian romance.
Ridley Scott’s The Martian suffered a similar drought, while sci-fi blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens was beaten to many of its technical awards by George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, which has even more nominations at the Oscars (including Best Director and Best Picture) but will probably just clean up in the craft categories again.
And while Saoirse Ronan’s Brooklyn won Best British Film at the Baftas there’s no equivalent Oscar, so it’ll have to go toe-to-toe with the big hitters in the Best Film, Best Actress and Best Writing fields. Again though, this very American tale might resonate more with US voters, so absolutely anything could happen, particularly for Ronan in the acting category.
EE Rising Star award-winner John Boyega
With that said, one thing is for sure this year– the Oscar winners are bound to be less diverse than their Bafta cousins, with black actor John Boyega picking up the public-voted Rising Star award last night, Asian director Asif Kapadia awarded the prize for Best Documentary for Amy, and Jordanian filmmaker Naji Abu Nowar awarded the Outstanding Debut Bafta (along with Rupert Lloyd) for Theeb.
Sidney Poitier was awarded the Fellowship, while other Bafta nominees from ethnic minorities included Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation and Benicio del Toro for Sicario, both for Best Supporting Actor.
The presenters of the various awards also seemed pointedly diverse this year in a possible retort from Bafta to the #OscarsSoWhite scandal (Trumbo’s Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje joked that “This seems to be a running theme, this interracial dating tonight,” after other awards were presented by duos of Idris Elba with Kate Winslet and Blake Harrison with Gemma Chan).
The Oscars, meanwhile have only one non-white nominee in the headline categories – The Revenant’s director Iñárritu – and while he’s a likely winner it’s not nearly enough to satisfy the increasing calls for the Academy to diversify after the second year in a row with no non-white actors nominated. The only black Oscar nominee this year is musician The Weeknd (for Best Original Song), and along with Amy’s Asif Kapadia the other non-white nominees are limited to costume designer Paco Delgado, short film director Basil Khalil and producer Rosa Tran.
Creatives of Colour leader Leon Herbert with The Revenant’s Will Poulter
This isn’t to say the Baftas are a perfect example of diversity, of course – there were still a few notable ethnic minority absences from the nominations this year including those involved with Straight Outta Compton and Creed, while Carol’s lack of silverware isn’t a great sign of LGBTA recognition either. But the British Academy do seem to be further ahead when it comes to addressing the issue. They even supported a peaceful protest (above) from organisation Creatives of Colour on the red carpet last night that called for more diversity in the film industry through quotas (you can read more about #BaftaBlackout here).
So in summary, the Baftas told us a few things we already knew, showed us that they’re SLIGHTLY cooler than the Americans about race (but still not that cool about it) and ably demonstrated via the red carpet just how impractical most ball gowns are when faced with freezing winds.
But we also have to admit that it’s left us more or less in the dark about exactly who’ll claim the Best Picture gong at the Oscars on the 28th February. At least there’s only two weeks to wait until we find out…