By Amy Smith
Yesterday was the 2022 BAFTAs, and while the show was pre-recorded, there was still an awards ceremony telecasted in the UK. With last year’s ceremony lining up almost exactly to the Oscar line-up, many award pundits were glued to their phones, waiting in anticipation for each winner to be announced online. This year has been more chaotic than average regarding the precursors, with the Golden Globes not having a telecast and the Critic’s Choice Awards and BAFTAs occurring on the same night, so perhaps more people will be defaulting this year to the BAFTA winners than having done so previously. Now, let’s break down what exactly happened on the British land.
There has been a major backlash against the host Rebel Wilson, and I do understand why given how the show has been formatted previously. This year’s BAFTAs felt a lot more casual than previous years, with a lack of royal attendance and no Stephen Fry on stage. Wilson did have some blunders along the way, particularly with a joke about Will Smith, and there were one too many gags for a show that was only two hours. However, whether it was just me missing the on-stage presentation or this being the only major award show of the season I have seen this year, I ended up enjoying the comedy that Wilson brought to the stage for the most part.
The BAFTA ceremony went out of its way to promote the notion of going to the cinema, something that the Oscar ceremony last year was missing. There was one gag specifically focusing on cinema etiquette and numerous speeches mentioning the love of cinema and keeping the businesses alive, and I appreciate the message that is finally being sent out from these filmmakers about witnessing these films on the big screen.
Something was missing from the ceremony, though, and a big part of that came from the acceptance speeches. The speeches that we did get from Ariana DeBose, Troy Kotsur, and Kenneth Branagh, to name a few, were all spectacular and are worth checking out on YouTube if you could not watch the ceremony. However, it was clear that many people who won awards chose to stay in the US and attend the Critic’s Choice Awards instead. Despite having a location in London where the likes of Lady Gaga, Alana Haim, and Benedict Cumberbatch attended after the BAFTA ceremony, the major wins of the night in “The Power of the Dog” was accepted without the director, “King Richard” without the lead actor, and “Licorice Pizza” without the screenwriter. It drained the energy of the room every time someone was not available to accept the award personally, and that was felt especially in the latter half of the ceremony.
I was personally predicting BAFTA to avoid two of the three acting frontrunners for their wins, and yet even the British Academy could not push “The Power of the Dog” to an acting win as both Troy Kotsur for “CODA” and Will Smith for “King Richard” took home their respective awards. Smith now joins “West Side Story” star Ariana DeBose in winning the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, SAG, and BAFTA and will most likely sweep until the Oscars. Kotsur may have missed out on the Golden Globe, but with “The Power of the Dog” star Kodi Smit-McPhee losing his one chance to make a speech at a significant telecast, Kotsur has stolen all of the momentum.
There are some categories that have felt ‘locked’ up for months now, and the “Dune” sweep at the BAFTAs continues to confirm the passion for that film. While not all of the races are locks for “Dune,” with close competition still for Production Design and Cinematography, it does seem too late now for anyone to steal momentum from it in Visual Effects, Sound, and Score.
A couple of the technical categories have also had some clarity come into play with the winners of the BAFTAs, including “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” taking home Makeup & Hair and Cruella taking home Costume Design. The three Feature categories also went to the frontrunners with “Summer of Soul” winning Documentary, “Encanto” winning Animated Film, and “Drive My Car” winning Film Not in the English Language.
BAFTA may have helped clear up a few categories, but it has now also produced some exciting races to look forward to for the rest of the season. Both of the Screenplay categories are proving to be harder to predict than we initially thought, with both “Belfast” and “The Power of the Dog” losing out in their individual categories. Best Original Screenplay went to Paul Thomas Anderson for “Licorice Pizza,” and perhaps this is finally the moment where he will get to become an Oscar winner and make a speech on the big stage. Of course, this would come at the cost of “Belfast’s” best chance of winning an Oscar and potentially leaving Branagh’s once-frontrunner 0 for 7, a similar trajectory for Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” last year. Over at the Adapted Screenplay category, “CODA” pulled a bit of a shock when it won the category over Campion’s screenplay. It is clear that there is momentum continually growing for that film, and if there is really a chance it could spoil in Best Picture due to this late momentum, it will need to repeat the same two wins at the Oscars and win for both Adapted Screenplay and Supporting Actor.
We all knew going into the ceremony that Best Actress would clarify nothing about the Oscar race, given that none of the BAFTA nominees were up for the Oscar. However, that gave the British voting body a chance to do something fantastic in awarding the Best Actress award to Joanna Scanlan for “After Love.” A performance that was embraced by BIFA earlier in the year and was shown at the 2020 London Film Festival. It is such a beautiful performance from Scanlan, and this platform will undoubtedly score her a great platform for any film offers she gets in the future. As for the Oscar race, that was more dependent on the winner of the Critic’s Choice Award this year.
The most challenging race to predict this year at the Oscars is Best Editing, and BAFTA certainly did not help with that. The winner of Best Editing at the BAFTAs went to “No Time to Die,” a film that the British voting body certainly liked and does indeed have flashy editing, but no Editing nomination at the Oscars. In fact, the only nominee at both the BAFTAs and the Oscars is “Dune,” which has not won anywhere yet but is easily the frontrunner for Best Sound. As of this moment, a case could be made for any of the nominated films actually to win in the Best Editing category.
Did you get a chance to catch the BAFTAs live, or do you plan on going back and catching up with the speeches? Who do you think will win some of the tighter races? Where do “Belfast” and “CODA” now rank in your Best Picture list after this list of winners? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account and check out our latest Oscar predictions here.
You can follow Amy and hear more of her thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @filmswithamy