Less Predictive BAFTAs Boost Oscar Hopes for ‘Nomadland’ and Anthony Hopkins

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Anne Thompson
·6 min read
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The BAFTAs are a crucial marker in the Oscar race, because there’s an actual overlap between the British Academy and Oscar voters. But the outcome of this weekend’s BAFTA races, split into two virtual awards presentations, was less predictive than usual. That’s because while the British contingent of Oscar voters dominates the increasingly international Academy (25 percent of the 9,362 total), in order to combat #BAFTAsSoWhite this year, juries weighed in on the directing and acting categories, nominating a record 24 first-timers. This meant that not only were several Oscar-nominated players not competing, but that any American nominees that survived the always British-leaning BAFTAs were stronger than ever.

Landing seven nominations was a sign of strength for “Nomadland” (Searchlight), which went on to win four, including Best Film, Cinematography (British Joshua James Richards), Director (Chloé Zhao), and Actress Frances McDormand, notching her second BAFTA win after “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” However, the American McDormand was not up against Critics Choice winner Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”), SAG winner Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), or Globe winner Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”). “I thank Fran for discovering Fern with me and for bringing so much joy to our journey,” said Zhao.

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While McDormand’s BAFTA win demonstrates the overall strength of “Nomadland,” it does nothing to clarify the Best Actress Oscar race. That suspenseful outcome will be declared on April 25 at multiple hubs in Los Angeles and London.

In an upset, Welsh star Anthony Hopkins in “The Father,” a British production, beat the late Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) for Best Actor for the first time, but Hopkins was not competing against Oscar nominees Gary Oldman (“Mank”) or Steven Yeun (“Minari”) in that category. There is a sense that as Oscar voters catch up with “The Father” and Hopkins’ volcanic performance, if anyone were to topple the posthumous Boseman narrative, it could be the 82-year-old thespian, who last won in 1992 for “The Silence of the Lambs.”

“The Father” also built momentum in another key race, beating “Nomadland” for Best Adapted Screenplay for writer/director Florian Zeller and British playwright Christopher Hampton, who helped Zeller to adapt his French play for the London production as well as the movie.

The SAG Supporting Actress winner, “Minari” grandmother Yuh-Jung Youn, won again with a charming speech thanking the “snobby” Brits for rewarding her. While she was not competing with Oscar nominees Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”) and Olivia Colman (“The Father”), she is expected to take the win on Oscar night for Lee Isaac Chung’s popular farm drama (A24).

In the Supporting Actor race, as predicted, Daniel Kaluuya won again for “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.) as he will inevitably do at the Oscars, although his prime competitor Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”) was excluded by the BAFTA jury. Overlooked entirely by BAFTA voters was Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

Homegrown rookie writer/director Emerald Fennell’s “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features) got a boost by winning both Original Screenplay and Outstanding British Film. The film was “a labor of love, certainly,” she said. “Everyone did it pretty much for a packet of crisps, because they believed in it. It was the greatest thing in my life, making this film, and I love everyone who made it and I’m so grateful to them and everyone who’s watched it and been insightful about it.”

Otherwise, Netflix scored well, winning Documentary for South African pickup “My Octopus Teacher.” Co-director Pippa Ehrlich thanked producer-subject Craig Foster, “who shared his story with an open heart and vulnerability, and the little octopus who opened hearts around the world.”

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” picked up Costume Design and Makeup & Hair, beating out homegrown “Emma,” and David Fincher’s black-and-white Hollywood Golden Age homage “Mank” won the BAFTA for Best Production Design. All could repeat at the Oscars.

Amazon Studios’ immersion into the world of a suddenly deaf drummer, “Sound of Metal,” won both Best Editing and Sound, two categories that often go together, which bodes well for dual wins on Oscar night. Also possibly forecasting an Oscar repeat in the VFX category was BAFTA winner Christopher Nolan’s spy thriller “Tenet.”

On the foreign-film front, Denmark took home the prize for “Another Round,” which is also the Oscar frontrunner. “I had a small suspicion that you Brits might like a movie about drinking,” said jubilant director Thomas Vinterberg, surrounded by family and friends. He took a more somber note as he dedicated the film to his late daughter Ida, killed in a freak car accident before the start of production. “She was more enthusiastic about this project than anyone else. It made her miss her hometown Copenhagen, and now we honor her.”

If there was a chance for Irish film “Wolfwalkers” to beat “Soul,” this was it, but the Pixar fable about a Black musician (Jamie Foxx) fighting to return to life took home both Best Animated Film and Score, en route to likely the same results at the Oscars.

As for the show, the glitches were edited out of the BBC broadcast as hosts (Edith Bowman and Dermot O’Leary), presenters (among them Tom Hiddleston, Cynthia Erivo, Pedro Pascal, Andra Day, and Hugh Grant), and music performers (high points were Leslie Odom, Jr. and Celeste) appeared from a hub in Los Angeles as well as the usual Royal Albert Hall theater. It was empty, with applause and reactions supplied by a virtual soundtrack from various members’ homes.

That audience sounded frustrated by the constantly delayed new Bond film “No Time to Die,” as well as shuttered theaters, which are scheduled to reopen in the UK next month. A sizzle reel of upcoming movies from “Dune” to “Black Widow” signaled cinematic pleasures to come.

Ang Lee graciously received this year’s BAFTA Academy Fellowship. “England has been very good to me,” he said. “It was the only market where ‘The Ice Storm’ made money. And making ‘Sense and Sensibility’ was like a second film school to me… Cinema is about the courage to open ourselves to truth.”

Best Film
“Nomadland”

Leading Actress
Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”

Leading Actor
Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”

Supporting Actress
Yuh-jung Youn, “Minari”

Supporting Actor
Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas And The Black Messiah”

Outstanding British Film
“Promising Young Woman”

Outstanding Debut By A British Writer, Director Or Producer
“His House,” Remi Weekes (Writer/Director)

Film Not In The English Language
“Another Round”

Documentary
“My Octopus Teacher”

Animated Film
“Soul”

Director
“Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao

Original Screenplay
“Promising Young Woman,” Emerald Fennell

Adapted Screenplay
“The Father,” Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller

Original Score
“Soul,” Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Casting
“Rocks,” Lucy Pardee

Cinematography
“Nomadland,” Joshua James Richards

Editing
“Sound Of Metal,” Mikkel E.G. Nielsen

Production Design
“Mank,” Donald Graham Burt, Jan Pascale

Costume Design
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Ann Roth

Make Up & Hair
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Matiki Anoff, Larry M. Cherry, Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal

Sound
“Sound Of Metal,” Jaime Baksht, Nicolas Becker, Phillip Bladh, Carlos Cortés, Michelle Couttolenc

Special Visual Effects
“Tenet,” Scott Fisher, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Lockley

British Short Animation
“The Owl And The Pussycat,” Mole Hill, Laura Duncalf

British Short Film
“The Present,” Farah Nabulsi

Rising Star
Bukky Bakry (“Rocks”)

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