After Golden Globes glory - where is the British talent at the BAFTAs?
- Credit: WARNER BROS. PICTURES/IMDB
The film awards season always provokes discussion as favourite films are rewarded or frustratingly are ignored but this year, as the BAFTAs have proved, the awards are in danger of becoming safe and predictable. What we need is a distinctive voice.
And so the 2020 awards season is all ready in full swing. No sooner have the Golden Globes been announced, then we have the BAFTA nominations riding close on their tail.
Next week, the Oscar nominations join the party and you get a sense that this year, the awards season has become slightly more compact, more concentrated.
Looking at the nominees for both the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, you get a feeling that the awards season favourites are starting to emerge. The main players are all pretty consistent - in fact the BAFTA nominations are so similar to the Golden Globes that you can't help feeling that we are collectively suffering from a massive bout of déjà vu.
It's clear that this year the awards are all going to be about The Joker, The Irishman, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and 1917 with a couple of extra nominees which will probably scoop up films like Rocketman, Marriage Story and possibly JoJo Rabbit.
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Such is the grip of the leading contenders on all the various categories; there is very little room for any other films to shine. The big films all have multiple nominations in a wide spread of different categories.
The result is that the nominees look rather limited and samey. Are these half dozen films really the only ones worth celebrating? Of course they are not but when The Joker has 11 nominations, The Irishman and Once Upon A Time in Hollywood have 10 a-piece and 1917 has nine nods in major categories then there's not a lot of room for anything else to shine.
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BAFTA's saving grace is that it has the Best British Film award and the Rising Star category which allows some room to recognise smaller, quirkier films or less showy, quieter performances. Happily, the Cornish independent film Bait and the small-scale The Two Popes with Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins benefitted from their British origins.
This year, with the nominations dominated by people like Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Al Pacino, Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Renée Zellweger and Scarlett Johansson, you get the impression that it was always going to be a battle of the giants.
The situation gets faintly absurd when you realise that both Scarlett Johansson and Margot Robbie have two nominations for two different movies - Johansson for JoJo Rabbit and Marriage Story while Robbie gets plaudits for Bombshell and Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.
It's good that Bombshell, a story of sexual harassment at Fox News, gets recognition in the acting categories because in the showcase Best Film and Best Director arenas it's a very male-centric list this year.
I would have thought that films like Judy, Marriage Story, Little Women and Bombshell would have had more of a showing than they have - although it is good to see Jessie Buckley get a nod for the quietly engaging British country music film Wild Rose.
I would have thought that Bait, which has had a huge impact both commercially and critically, would have had a greater presence in the different categories and it is difficult to explain why Armando Iannucci's The Personal History of David Copperfield is conspicuous by its absence - particularly when it picked up two trophies at the Best British Independent Film Awards in December. It didn't even get a nomination in the Best Costume Design category.
And does Tom Hanks always need to be nominated? He gets a Best Support Actor nod for the very sugary A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood playing an American TV personality who has no profile on this side of the Atlantic while Hugh Laurie who picked up the same award, for his role in David Copperfield, at the BIFAs doesn't get a look-in.
Although I wouldn't want the BAFTAs to get too parochial, they should act as more of a cheer leader for British film-making and British studios. It should celebrate British film craftsmanship which is among the finest in the world.
The reason that the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs look so similar is because in recent years the members and the organisation have got too involved in the Oscar prediction contest.
The BAFTAs are in danger of becoming regarded as a copycat award. Instead of being a distinctive British voice, looking at what is best in our cinemas and what is emerging from our production companies, BAFTA have decided to be satisfied with being an Oscar predictor - which suggests that BAFTA has cast itself as a supporting player to the Oscars.
This is an appalling position to take. The BAFTAs should be proud of its heritage and be a distinctive award, celebrating British film-making not just aping what is happening in Hollywood.
Film-making has always been an international enterprise so there will be some cross-over but not to the extent that has happened this year. BAFTA don't be a copycat event, celebrate the innovation and imagination of homegrown talent.
The leading BAFTA nominations:
One Upon a Time... In Hollywood
Outstanding British film
Sorry We Missed You
The Two Popes
Sam Mendes - 1917
Martin Scorcese - The Irishman
Todd Phillips - Joker
Quentin Tarantino - Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood
Bong Joon-Ho - Parasite
Jessie Buckley - Wild Rose
Scarlett Johansson - Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan - Little Women
Charlize Theron - Bombshell
Renée Zellweger - Judy
Leonardo DiCaprio - Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood
Adam Driver - Marriage Story
Taron Egerton - Rocketman
Joaquin Phoenix - Joker
Jonathan Pryce - The Two Popes
Laura Dern - Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson - Jojo Rabbit
Florence Pugh - Little Women
Margot Robbie - Bombshell
Margot Robbie - Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood
Tom Hanks - A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony Hopkins - The Two Popes
Al Pacino - The Irishman
Joe Pesci - The Irishman
Brad Pitt - Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood