As expected, “La La Land” danced its way to victory in almost every major category at the 2017 EE BAFTA Awards on Sunday. The blockbuster musical won five statues including Best Film, Director (Damien Chazelle), Lead Actress (Emma Stone), Cinematography (Linus Sandgren) and Original Music (Justin Hurwitz). That being said, it did miss out on some key honors where it was nominated.
“Hacksaw Ridge” took Editing, “Jackie” grabbed Costumes, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” snagged Production Design, “Arrival” found love in Sound, Kenneth Lonergan and “Manchester by the Sea” won Original Screenplay and “Manchester’s” Casey Affleck won Lead Actor (more on that in a moment). But, frankly, at this point no one would have been shocked if it won any of those categories either.
Based on those previous non-“La La Land” wins in many ways BAFTA spread the love in many ways it did not. Both critical favorite “Moonlight” and “Nocturnal Animals,” which earned three and nine nominations respectively, were shut out. BAFTA doesn’t always adhere to what the Hollywood guilds or the Academy end up anointing, but there were a few major twists that affected this year’s results and must be discussed for context’s sake.
In Lead Actor “Fences'” Denzel Washington was snubbed by not earning a nomination in the first place (BAFTA has never nominated the two-time Oscar winner). This might not mean much for the Academy Awards except that Washington already won Best Actor at the SAG Awards last month. If “La La Land’s” Ryan Gosling or hometown hero Andrew Garfield had won for “Hacksaw Ridge” today it might have thrown more uncertainty into the category, but Affleck’s win reassured it’s still a Denzel vs. Casey showdown for the Academy Award. And, at this point, you should probably place your bets on Washington.
The fact Dev Patel took Supporting Actor for “Lion” over SAG Awards winner Mahershala Ali should give A24 some pause, however. Yes, Patel is a Brit and previous nominee (Lead Actor for “Slumdog Millionaire”), but its clear the industry loves “Lion” more than many critics do and may want to reward it Oscar Sunday. The Weinstein Company’s latest print ad campaign may be opportunistically cringeworthy and unnecessary, but the only other category it could possibly take is Cinematography (possible after its ASC win). A24 may need a hard Mahershala push during voting this week to really enforce why he is so worthy over the rest of the field.
The path for Emma Stone’s coronation to Best Actress would only have been hindered if Natalie Portman had surprised for “Jackie” (the frontrunner weeks ago) which she clearly did not. Isabelle Huppert has a slim, slim, slim chance (did you notice the emphasis?) at taking the Academy Award from Stone, but “Elle” did not qualify this year which took her out of the BAFTA mix. Huppert could have really used momentum from a BAFTA win (no guarantee) to surprise at the Oscars so in hindsight this may be looked at as a major opportunity that was lost to distribution issues.
Amazon Studios is no doubt breathing a sigh of relief over Lonergan’s win in Original Screenplay. Team ‘Manchester’ would be sweating Oscar if Chazelle had won for “La La Land.” They probably would have been fine if Barry Jenkins had won for “Moonlight” as it Oscar qualified for Adapted Screenplay. At this point, they are keeping their fingers crossed Academy voters just don’t check off every “La La Land” nomination they see on their ballots.
Among the other categories, “Kubo and the Two Strings” did surprise in Animated Film, but, again, there is an asterisk here. ‘Kubo’ went up against three Pixar/Disney releases, “Moana,” “Finding Dory” and, the expected winner, “Zootopia.” “Dory” is not among the Oscar nominees, but, more importantly, it was the fifth highest grossing movie in the UK last year. It almost doubled the gross of “Zootopia” ($56 million to $34 million in US dollars comparatively) and “Moana” was no slouch either ($23 million). We’re not discounting the affection for “Kubo,” but this is clearly a case of a split vote among BAFTA membership. Among a markedly different field two weeks from now “Zootopia” should still take the Oscar.
All and all the BAFTAs went mostly to plan. The question now is whether anyone in the Academy is paying attention.
Gregory Ellwood’s Current Oscar Predictions:
Best Supporting Actress
Best Supporting Actor
Animated Feature Film
Foreign Language Film
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