With Chloe Zhao’s anticipated DGA win last night and her film Nomadland taking the lion’s share of BAFTA wins for Best Film, Director, Actress Frances McDormand and Cinematography today, the Searchlight film appears to be an overwhelming favorite at the Oscars. Anyone who would bet against a film that has largely inundated the season with key wins will win not only at BAFTA and DGA, but also at PGA, Golden Globes, Critics Choice and more – a consensus decision, if one believes in the predictive value of precursor prices at all. It was just missing from SAG, where it wasn’t even nominated for the all-important standout cast won by The Trial Of The Chicago 7, and was AWOL at the WGA, where guild rules governed which films were made under their terms Must be rotated when classified as ineligible MBAs.
BAFTA Film Awards: ‘Nomadland’ wins best picture, director, actress and camera – full list of winners
Should everyone else just throw in the towel even though Oscar voters won’t start voting until Thursday? Statistically it seems daunting, but as I pointed out in my analysis of the SAG awards last week and where I predicted that Nomadland will get strong again this weekend at both DGA and BAFTA, as it is now, you can still look at 2005 lifeboat when you’re watching someone other than Searchlight. At this point, Brokeback Mountain was leading the table just like Nomadland did, but also won WGA to start and only lost the SAG Cast Award to start Crash, which from that win alone built enough momentum to break Brokebacks Burst the bubble and take the best picture with you with the original script and editing Oscars.
Chicago 7, which was vacant at BAFTA, is hoping for that kind of excitement. We’ll see, but a run like the Chloé Zhao movie would be a very rare bird these days. Voters by and large tend to go with what they think is a winner, and Nomadland clearly has that card in hand. A bright mark for the competitors? BAFTA hasn’t ranked Best Oscar for the past six years in a row.
As big as the night the SAG was for Netflix last Sunday, this Sunday’s best BAFTA awards went to a different location. The Uber streamer only picked up documentary for My Octopus Teacher and his house’s Remi Weeks for a standout British filmmaker debut (at Netflix’s craft awards yesterday) Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom took on makeup and costumes while Mank won production design.
Favorite British son Anthony Hopkins in The Father has finally broken through, temporarily blocking the late Chadwick Boseman’s momentum in the best actor race that Boseman has dominated almost everywhere this season. The dad beat Nomadland for Adapted Screenplay too, a big plus for it as we headed into the Oscar voting stage (British icon Christopher Hampton shared that award for writer / director Florian Zeller).
Boseman’s loss was the most surprising result to me, especially given all the congratulations BAFTA made in the press on its march towards diversity this year. This is certainly evident in the nominations, if not the actual winners. In a year where black filmmakers and black-themed films received a lot of attention and praise (AFI’s top ten had five of them), BAFTA managed not to nominate any of them for their award-winning best picture award, which ultimately became the Chinese director Zhao’s look benefited mostly older white people who step out of American society and bring them to life on the streets. The only grand prize that went to a black filmmaker or actor was Daniel Kaluuya of Judas And The Black Messiah, who is also British. He continues his career this awards season and appears to be under an Oscar ban. That being said, the most prestigious BAFTA award for black-oriented cinema was Animated Feature for Disney / Pixar’s Soul (by a white director and producer).
The McDormand Lead Actress win came in a category largely ignored by her Oscar-nominated counterparts, with only McDormand and British star Vanessa Kirby also participating in the Academy Awards, which featured BAFTA-ignored competitors Andra Day, Viola Davis and Carey Mulligan are also nominated, and each nominated won a significant forerunner award to make this a category anyone can lose. Only Kirby, in Pieces Of A Woman, failed to win one of the major televised awards shows, but she was the first one this season to receive an award for best actress in Venice eight months ago (remember that?) .
McDormand defeated Kirby and four other black nominees at BAFTA, a category that indicates the organization’s attempt to become more diverse after past years when it was anything but at the expense of nominating less deserving competitors like Britain’s much-acclaimed mulligan in Promising Young Woman who has otherwise done very well with BAFTA.
Place your bets.
BAFTA cemented Minari’s Korean star Yuh-Jung Youn as the front runner for supporting actresses after last week’s SAG win. BAFTA also continued British prodigy Emerald Fennell’s march to the Oscars by honoring her Best Original Screenplay, which she also won at the WGA, as well as Outstanding British Film for the Promising Young Woman mentioned above.
BAFTA and last night’s DGA Awards are the last big stop before the Oscar voting starts on April 15th and ends on April 20th. We’ll see what this all means in that regard when the Oscars finally end this long, long season of pandemic awards on April 25th.