The British Fall for 1917

The BAFTAs took place today and they’re the British equivalent of the Oscars. And it was 1917 continuing its epic run in precursors by winning 7 trophies, including Best Picture and Director. That said, the victory comes with a caveat and not a minor one. The last five BAFTA Picture recipients did not go on to nab the top prize with the Academy. So if you’re still considering going with Parasite or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or something else to take the biggest Oscar, there’s reason to do so.

In the acting races, nothing changed the narrative of having major front runners in all four. The winners (and it’ll look familiar): Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) for Actor, Renee Zellweger (Judy) in Actress, and Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Laura Dern (Marriage Story) for the supporting derbies. Simply put, anyone other than this quartet taking Oscar gold would constitute an upset.

One day after the Writers Guild named Jojo Rabbit as Adapted Screenplay as its winner and Parasite in Original Screenplay, BAFTA followed suit. It puts them in the driver’s seat for the Academy and that’s not welcome news for Little Women in Adapted or Hollywood in Original.

Another race to watch is Animated Feature because it seems wide open at the moment. Toy Story 4 is seen as the favorite due to Oscar’s penchant for Pixar. However, that sure seems iffy because other titles keep picking up precursors. Today it was Netflix’s Klaus taking the award.

Here’s the list of other winners for the BAFTAs:

Outstanding British Film – 1917

Film Not in the English Language – Parasite

Documentary – For Sama

Score – Joker

Casting – Joker

Cinematography – 1917

Editing – Ford v Ferrari

Production Design – 1917

Costume Design – Little Women

Makeup & Hair – Bombshell

Sound – 1917

Visual Effects – 1917 

Look for plenty more Oscar speculation as we are now one week away from the show!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Sam Mendes

My second Case of post discussing the directors up this year brings us to Sam Mendes for his World War I epic 1917:

The Case for Sam Mendes

The Englishman who became known for his theatre work became a Best Director winner with his first feature 20 years ago – American Beauty. Since then, he’s made a slew of pictures that never quite achieved full Academy attention: Road to Perdition, Jarhead, and Revolutionary Road among them. Over the past decade, he’s been in 007 land after making the last two Bond adventures Skyfall and Spectre. His latest effort has brought him back to serious contention and he’s got the hardware to prove it. Mendes has won the Golden Globe, Directors Guild of America, and BAFTA awards for his direction. Those three prizes alone puts him in the driver’s seat for a second Oscar 20 years apart. That, by the way, would be the longest stretch between a filmmaker taking the trophy.

The Case Against Sam Mendes

From a pure precursor standpoint, there really is no case against him. Yet there’s a lot of love for Bong Joon-Ho and his critically heralded Parasite. He serves as the chief competitor.

The Verdict

It is very hard to ignore the fact that Mendes has won everything that needs to be won in order to emerge victorious here.

My Case of posts will continue with Joe Pesci in The Irishman!

The British Go Wild For Joker

On a packed awards precursors day that included DGA and PGA announcements, our compadres overseas put out their nominations as well. The British Academy Film Awards (or BAFTAs) went wild for Joker, which led all contenders with 11 nods. The Irishman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood were close behind with 10 and 1917 achieved 9.

The BAFTAs are an often decent harbinger of what follows at the Oscars. In the acting races, they’re often good for 3 or 4 of the eventual contenders stateside. Let’s take a look at the top six races with a little analysis.

Best Picture

The Nominees: 1917, The Irishman, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite 

No real surprises here. If anything, this is another sign that Marriage Story isn’t a real contender to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Yet that’s kind of been the general consensus for a little while.

Best Director

The Nominees: Bong Joon-Ho (Parasite), Sam Mendes (1917), Todd Phillips (Joker), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

A 5 for 5 match with Picture. Other than Phillips, the other four were pretty much automatic nominees. Phillips gets the slot over Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story), and today’s surprise DGA player Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit).

Best Actor

The Nominees: Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes)

The ultra competitive Best Actor derby continues. Phoenix has to be considered the favorite after his Golden Globes victory and Joker leading the way with nods. It’s another good showing for Egerton after his Globes podium walk. Pryce gets in over Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory) and Robert De Niro in The Irishman. The latter’s exclusion should be noted. De Niro didn’t get a Globe, SAG, or BAFTA nod. For those picking him to get recognition from the Academy, actors left out of all three very rarely make the cut.

Best Actress

The Nominees: Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), Charlize Theron (Bombshell), Renee Zellweger (Judy)

Buckley being named is a genuine surprise. She’s not really on the Oscar radar screen at all. She gets in over Cynthia Erivo in Harriet or Awkwafina for The Farewell. Those snubs, among others, got the BAFTAs trending today as no performers of color were nominated.

Best Supporting Actor

The Nominees: Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes), Al Pacino (The Irishman), Joe Pesci (The Irishman), Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Nothing much to speculate about here. This is the same Supporting Actor list as the Globes and could easily be the Academy’s five. In all cases, Pitt is the front runner.

Best Supporting Actress

The Nominees: Laura Dern (Marriage Story), Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit), Florence Pugh (Little Women), Margot Robbie (Bombshell), Margot Robbie (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Johansson is a double nominee in lead and supporting once again. That’s not unexpected. On the other hand, the double nod of Robbie in this category very much is. She’s expected to be recognized for Bombshell, but not Hollywood. This comes at the expense of Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers, who’s generally seen as second in line behind favorite Dern.

Some other quick notes:

  • It was a bad day for The Farewell. Snubs in the acting races weren’t all that surprising. Being left off Original Screenplay is.
  • Ford v Ferrari had a poor showing with one nod for Editing (no Sound or Score… where it could contend for Oscars).

And that wraps up a busy day of Oscar precursor coverage! You can expect my final predictions on what the Academy will do on Monday by Friday or Saturday…

Oscar Watch: Downton Abbey

Fans of the British period piece series Downton Abbey, which aired stateside on PBS, will get their fix nearly four years after its conclusion with a film version. Written by its creator Julian Fellowes, Abbey picks up shortly after the events of the series finale with many cast members (Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, and more) returning to their roles.

The show was no stranger to major awards attention, including Golden Globes, BAFTAs, SAGs, and dozens of Emmy nods. Could that TV love translate to Oscar voters noticing the cinematic rendering?

Probably not in major categories. Abbey has a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 80% and while reviews are solid, I don’t see this getting attention in Picture or the acting derbies. On the other hand, Production Design and especially Costume Design could be doable. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The British Are Picking! A BAFTA Recap

Our British friends had their version of the Oscars today with the BAFTA Awards. The ceremony has a checkered history with its American counterpart in matching wins, particularly with Best Picture.

In this decade, the BAFTA and Oscar victor for the top prize matched from 2010-2013. However, the shows have honored different recipients for the last four years. The Picture winner tonight is Alfonso Cuarón’s Mexican drama Roma. Given the recent BAFTA history, perhaps that isn’t a great sign for its Academy prospects. Yet it’s performed extremely well with other precursors and likely remains the front-runner for that other awards program in two weeks. Cuarón also took Best Director and the BAFTA/Oscar for that race has lined up for the previous four years.

Rami Malek won Best Actor for Bohemian Rhapsody and that could have him sitting well for Oscar as the BAFTA winner has matched Oscar seven out of eight years this decade. I give him an edge over Christian Bale in Vice.

That seven for eight statistic also applies to Best Actress and things got a little interesting today as Olivia Colman (The Favourite) took the trophy instead of Glenn Close (The Wife) and Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born). I still think Close is the Academy’s favorite, but Colman is making a potential run.

The supporting races furthered a strong front-runner and gave another a first win. Mahershala Ali (Green Book) has made it a clean sweep in Supporting Actor in the precursors and he’s the heavy expected Oscar winner. For Supporting Actress, Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) wasn’t nominated here, but remains a slight favorite two Sunday’s from now. BAFTA’s favorite, however, was from The Favourite and it was Rachel Weisz picking up her first significant trophy.

Keep an eye on the blog for my final predictions for the Oscars!