What the BAFTA Nominations Can Tell Us About the Oscars

hailee_steinfeld_grit250.jpgThe nominations for the 64th annual BAFTA Awards were announced this morning, and on the one hand, it's true: The BAFTA nominations don't mean anything with regard to the Academy Awards. Different voting bodies, different interests, different cultures, and even different release dates should confirm as much to anyone with so much as a casual interest in awards season. Nevertheless, there are a few red flags among today's citations -- not to mention some recent BAFTA/Oscar history -- that demand attention.

1. Hailee Steinfeld is on the Best Actress bubble.

I'll get a little more into this in tomorrow's edition of Oscar Index, but Steinfeld's nomination as Best Actress is less a consequence of Blue Valentine just having opened in the UK (and Rabbit Hole not on the slate until February) than the groundswell of industry observers who want her recognized for her contribution as True Grit's lead actress. There's precedent here for presaging the Oscars, most recently in 2008, when Kate Winslet was dual-nominated in Actress for Revolutionary Road and The Reader. The latter occurred despite the Weinsteins' Stateside efforts to plant Winslet in Supporting Actress; Paramount and Scott Rudin are doing the same for Steinfeld. The Academy literally cannot react to the nominations -- ballots were due last Friday -- but the BAFTA noms imply a general sense among awards voters that a role is what it is no matter what the marketers and pundits say.

2. The supporting categories are huge.

Since 2006, the winners of both Best Supporting Actress and Actor have gone on to claim the same prizes at the Oscars. Again, some of this is attributable to release dates (Animal Kingdom, for one, opens next month in the UK), but when you see Amy Adams favored over Melissa Leo (to say nothing of national darlings Miranda Richardson and Lesley Manville) and Barbara Hershey chosen instead of Mila Kunis, history alone forces us to ask: Are we in for some Kodak Theater upsets, or is this going to be 2005 all over again, when Thandie Newton claimed a Supporting Actress BAFTA while eventual Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz wasn't even nominated? Leo may not be too concerned this morning, but you can bet Kunis is, especially with Hershey and Jacki Weaver holding their ground.

3. The Coen Brothers are probably screwed.

Not landing in contention at the Golden Globes is one thing. But a DGA snub (in favor of David O. Russell) paired with a BAFTA snub (in favor of Danny Boyle) is something else altogether. Box office flourishes aside, there's just no heat behind them. To me, today's news pretty much crystallizes the Oscars' final five as O. Russell, David Fincher, Tom Hooper, Darren Aronofsky and Christopher Nolan.

4. No one is going to beat Colin Firth.

More history! Firth is already a runaway favorite to win the Best Actor BAFTA, which would make him the first back-to-back film winner (he was victorious last year for A Single Man) since Rod Steiger in 1967-68. Steiger, too, earned Oscar nominations for those roles in The Pawnbroker and In the Heat of the Night, ultimately winning for the latter. Call it coincidence or whatever, but the odds are the odds.


  • The Pope says:

    Also, consider this. Being the BRITISH Academy, that are understandably inclined to vote for British films... not because they are British films but perhaps their friends and peers worked on them. A similar mentality operates in Los Angeles.
    But I do think the BAFTAs may offer more than a tiny indicator for the Oscars because you can be assured that whichever British filmmaker is a member of Oscar is also a member of BAFTA. And in that one fell swoop we can see that they have more influence than the HFPA.

  • The British influence is certain, both in terms of peers seeking to both recognize national filmmaking and boost UK titles' awards-season profiles overall. Yet the release-date issue is fundamental to the BAFTA/Oscar breach as a whole; I can't imagine Julianne Moore making the Best Actress cut over there if Rabbit Hole had opened in time for consideration across the pond. And who even knows WHAT is going on in that Supporting Actress category.

  • Sheila Fenton says:

    Re-Hailee Steinfeld and Oscar categories.. Long ago, Roz Russell refused to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress for "PICNIC"..which might have at last earned her an Oscar..because she wanted a Best Actress nomination or nothing. She was a name over the title star for years and claimed her right to remain so. But Hailee Steinfeld is a young newcomer, and like Tatum O'Neil, she has a chance for a win in the Supporting category..not a huge chance.. but in the "Best" category she has no chance. It all depends on what she wants written on the nomination certificate .

  • That's my point: It's not Steinfeld's choice _where_ she's nominated, only how she chooses to campaign. And sure, lots of stars, their agents and studios/distributors have politicized the process like that for decades. With heavy hitters as recently as the '90s (Ed Limato's clients come to mind), that profile-protection game worked. Yet with others -- most recently with Winslet -- enough Academy voters call category fraud and nominate the actor/actress where _they_ want. This could very well happen next week.
    Or maybe not! I don't claim to know for sure, I'm just saying this is a conversation that's been unfolding for weeks now, and BAFTA voters were clearly listening.