The BAFTA Nominations: Back-And-Forth
Posted on Tuesday January 17, 2012, 16:47 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
As we've done in years gone by, here are two Empire staffers discussing this morning's BAFTA nominations. This is just to get the discussion going: add your own comments below!
Helen: Well, here are the BAFTA nominations for another year. It’s like another Christmas for film fans, albeit one with slightly underwhelming presents and that sick and guilty sensation that you get after eating too many chocolate coins. The Artist is out in front – which I’m OK with – followed by Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (benefitting from British double-dipping; it’s eligible for more categories).
Let’s start with what’s here and then look at what’s not: it’s nice to see Drive up for Best Director and Picture; it’s weird that The Help has done quite so well given that it feels like a massive, pleasant nothing to me (with the exception of Davis and Spencer, who thoroughly deserve a shout-out). I feel like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is going to be the big nominee that goes home empty-handed. It just seems like it’s a little too stately, and too restrained, to do much damage here.
In the Outstanding debut category, some really good films – but surely I can’t be the only person never to have heard of Black Pond? Oh dear: I’m a bad human being and a terrible failure as a film journalist. Nick, tell me what you think about all this while I find a whip and scourge myself...
Nick: Come on, Helen, everyone knows that Black Pond is the tale of a cursed garden feature that spawns mutant goldfish. No, it is in fact the micro-budget debut of directors Tom Kingsley and Will Sharpe, in which a man is invited to dinner by a British family and promptly dies at the kitchen table. It’s also noteworthy for marking the return to the screen of Chris Langham after his 2005 scandal.
One very noticeable omission from the shortlist is J. Edgar, Clint Eastwood’s biopic of the FBI Director. Everything about it seemed engineered to win awards — Very Important Subject; decades-spanning, heavily-accented performances; portentous narration — but mixed reviews and the fact it was one of the dullest films of 2011 (the most romantic scene involves filing!) have combined to shut it out of every category. Make-Up & Hair is a particular snub, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer spend much of the movie coated in (unconvincing) latex.
J. Edgar’s not the only Warner Brothers production to be frozen out. On a pre-Christmas trip to LA, I saw giant billboards all over the place proclaiming Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 as a candidate for all kinds of Oscars, including Best Picture. But seeing as it’s only managed to score technical nods at the BAFTAs, it’s starting to look ever less likely to pull a Return Of The King.
Some other thoughts: pleased to see Senna in there, after it was proclaimed ineligible for an Oscar; as bewildered as everyone seems to be that Olivia Colman’s been blanked for her Tyrannosaur turn; and disappointed that the serene, beautiful Arrietty isn’t up for Animated Film.
Helen: Yes, yes and yes on all of that really: I’m also a little surprised (albeit less surprised than by Colman’s omission) to see Rooney Mara overlooked for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. My theory there? Awards voters are all going to ignore the performances in that film because the cast never agreed on an accent. Seriously, I reckon that’s it.
What else is missing? The Tree Of Life is nowhere to be seen, which I’ve heard is (at least partly) down to the fact that screeners weren’t sent to BAFTA members. After some buzz, Warrior didn’t get any love – although it is basically a chick flick for guys, so it shouldn’t be a surprise – and it’s weird to see Carey Mulligan in for Drive rather than Shame, which I would respectfully submit is the better performance by several country miles and a Miles Davis.
Speaking of the acting categories, I’m going to go waaaay out on a limb and call Michael Fassbender the man to beat for Best Actor: The Descendants hasn’t had quite as much praise here as in the US and while everybody loves Gary Oldman* I don’t think it’s a sufficiently showy role. Given that the British have a tendency to appropriate Irish actors – and indeed OUR ENTIRE COUNTRY YOU WARMONGERING BAR STEWARDS – as their own, Fassbender will have some sort of homefield advantage over Pitt and Dujardin.
For Best Actress I’m with the consensus that it’s Meryl vs. Michelle – despite BAFTA probably being naturally inclined towards Tilda. I think it should be Michelle there, since Meryl feels a bit obvious.
*Sitcom idea! Everybody Loves Gary Oldman would see the actor play a likeable submarine commander and his own long-lost twin brother, who’s a chef in an exclusive squid restaurant! When the pair both suffer amnesia and end up in one another’s roles, the stage is set for hilarity!
Nick: You might just be right about Fassbender — he’s the man of the moment, Brandon is his boldest role yet, and the BAFTAS are more likely than the Oscars to reward the triumphantly grubby Shame. But I’d be just as happy to see a win for Jean Dujardin. With no talking or flashy editing, The Artist is powered by the expressions on his face: he effortlessly runs the gamut from smug git to broken-hearted has-been and beyond. The backlash against The Artist is underway, with some comparing Dujardin to Roberto Benigni, but don’t heed the snark: it’s a stunning performance.
Talking of which, I’m still haunted by Nick Nolte’s turn in Warrior, six months after seeing it. As an ex-alcoholic Pittsburgher, trying desperately to re-connect with his two damaged sons, he’s both rough and raw. So I’m sad to see that he didn’t make it into the Supporting Actor five, especially as Philip Seymour Hoffman’s role in The Ides Of March was both short in screen-time and schlubby Hoffman-business-as-usual. I’d give the gong to Christopher Plummer.
Actress-wise, Viola Davis is excellent in The Help and being tipped as an Oscar favourite, but will she be crushed by the Iron Lady? Whatever happens, it’s an interesting year that sees Margaret Thatcher vying for supremacy against Marilyn Monroe. Hang on, there’s another sit-com idea there!
And finally, Supporting Actress. There’s been much argument in the office of late over whether Melissa McCarthy deserves awards heat for Bridesmaids (argument for: “She’s hilarious all the way through and did lots of improv!”; argument against: “She shits in a sink!”). I’m in the former camp — comedians rarely get the recognition they deserve awards-wise, and just because a performance seems effortless, doesn’t mean it was — though I’m not convinced she should actually win.
To change the subject completely, isn’t it a controversial move to put The Adventures Of Tintin in the Animated Film category? It was made with actors performing all the roles, using the same technology as Avatar, and nobody talks about that as an animation. I’m guessing Andy Serkis, for one, will be shaking his head in frustration today…
Helen: I actually don’t think that’s so very controversial. Sure, I have sympathy for the claim that Gollum, say, is a performance that should be considered in the mainstream acting categories, but it seems a bit silly to argue that Tintin isn’t animation. After all, traditional animation has always used live human references (sometimes professional actors) and animated over the top – sometimes to a very faithful degree – and Tintin certainly looks like animation. Incidentally, no less an authority than Andrew Osmond described Avatar as animation in his book on the subject, so maybe that’s the miscategorised one. And we consider the rotoscoped likes of Ralph Bakshi’s work as animation. In summary: if it looks like animation and barks like animation, don’t worry about it.
Anyway, if Tintin is classed as animation, I think it’s got a serious shot at the win both here and, I suspect, at the Oscars, since Pixar has failed to provide a winner this year and DreamWorks hasn’t done anything to rival How To Train Your Dragon. Some of those shots in Tintin’s chase from the palace are the most exhilarating I've ever seen, so while Rango might be the most unusual of the three, I think Tintin’s the favourite.
In the Supporting categories, I think you’re right on Plummer: he has all the momentum now. As for McCarthy, I agree that comedy’s unjustly treated and I love her to bits (since The Gilmore Girls) but I suspect that Octavia Spencer might be the one to beat there. While Viola Davis has her work cut out against Streep and Williams (unless they split the biopic vote and she gets in) I reckon Spencer’s the most likely winner for The Help. Unless Chastain splits her vote. Oh, what a tangled web. I’m mostly just enjoying seeing Jonah Hill up for an award opposite Kenneth Branagh.
But enough wild speculation. Between now and the BAFTA ceremony on February 12, it sounds like we both have sitcoms to write!
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Posted on Tuesday January 17, 2012, 23:38
The omission of Fast Five in Best Film category is simply a travesty.
Posted on Wednesday January 18, 2012, 09:38
Glad to see some recognition for The Guard - definitely not the best film I've seen this year, but definitely the one I enjoyed the most - in fact, I think Gleeson's well overdue some decent recognition.
I'm obviously well out of step with the rest of the world (Empire included) when it comes to Fincher - I think Zodiac was a more intelligent film, but not as engaging as Dragon Tattoo, and I just don't understand how Benjamin Button deserved all of that awards recognition but Dragon Tattoo doesn't - Button was dreary melodramatic shite, and the Social Network was wearing a XXL t-shirt proclaiming THIS IS ZEITGEIST and was overhyped (Sorkin could adapt the phonebook and have the world's critics drooling) - but Dragon Tattoo was, for my money, a clear demonstration of how effortlessly Fincher manages to own the thriller genre - nobody else compares. Maybe he made it look too effortless? I have to admit thought that I thought the accents decision was a bad one.
I haven't seen Drive yet, but I loved Valhalla Rising and Bronson, so I'm pleased to see Refn getting some love and I'm even more excited to see Baby Goose get the hammer out - the Blu-ray is already on order.
Posted on Wednesday January 18, 2012, 12:50
I am seriously disappointed with Dragon Tattoo's omission from most categories. Why is Fincher considered in the DGA nominations but not in BAFTA? (US vs UK?) not including Rooney Mara is a big flaw, and overall I feel this year's nominations are among the worst ones in many years.
Posted on Wednesday January 18, 2012, 13:16
Helen, isn't Michael Fassbender German, of German and Northern Irish parentage?
Posted on Wednesday January 18, 2012, 13:38
Couldn't agree more Helen regarding The Help - I really dont' understand what all the fuss is about, apart from great performances from 2 of the cast (Viola Davis and Bryce Dallas-Howard), it didn't stand out for me at all. I think this is another case of Invictus, where the subject matter is getting recognition rather than basing it on the actual merits of the film (no way on this earth Freeman and Damon deserved oscar nods for those performances! Still a big bug bear).
Posted on Thursday January 19, 2012, 21:07
The comments seem to have an odd obsession with the girl with the dragon tattoo. What sums up that film is the music on in the background during the 'torture-(i.e. talk about my psychotic tendencies)-scene'. That's being done to death since a certain Tarantino fella did a similar kinda scene in that debut of his. What was its name??...anyway, for an original director, the film was surprisingly dull. The 'fight-club-style' credits could have being the best bit about the film - but you can't give an award for that. Want to see Fincher redefine the (saturated) serial killer genre? See: Seven and/or Zodiac, not GWDT.
And have to say (contrary to the other opinion above) I'm really liking the awards this year, purely as its recognizing all the great 'little' films that Hollywood is missing out. Drive, Shame, We Need to Talk about Kevin...Hollywood should be ashamed! Best films of the past year here! And I agree, Shame rather than Drive for the great Carey Mulligan. But doesn't McQueen deserve recognition himself?
One problem with the nominees - the emphasis on the Iron Lady. It's from the director of Mamma Mia. Enough said.
Posted on Thursday January 19, 2012, 21:16
PS love the blog EMPIRE.