Wednesday, May 22, 2024

How Will The 2023 BAFTA Award Winners Impact The Oscar Race?

The 2023 BAFTAs were held last night, and with Oscar voting less than two weeks away, the British Academy sure had some surprises in store for this awards season. Awards Pundits had many wrong predictions as there were shocking wins and clear support for only a select number of films. While there is a discussion to be had about the lack of representation among the winners of last night’s awards, something that needs to be examined in the film industry as a whole, it was nice to see BAFTA take some interesting turns from the predicted favorites and push the films they genuinely loved, giving some of this year’s contenders a chance to accept an accolade and give others a tremendous boost in this final stage. How many of these unexpected winners will translate to Oscar love, and how many are just a vote of support from the British group? Here is an analysis of what went down and what to keep an eye on with the upcoming precursors.

“All Quiet On The Western Front” Is Not So Quiet Anymore

One film dominated the evening at this year’s BAFTA awards: “All Quiet On The Western Front.” The German submission for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards won seven awards last night, including the coveted prizes for Best Film, Director, and Adapted Screenplay. Clearly, there was passion for the film within the British Academy, with the film scoring fourteen nominations out of the fifteen longlist positions it earned – sorry, Felix Kammerer – but winning that many awards shows the passion that voting members have for the film across the board, many of whom are in AMPAS and whose votes last night might trickle over on March 12th. After not making much of a dent this awards season due to Netflix’s priorities being elsewhere early on, it’s time to place this film higher on your predictions, as it may be looking at quite a few more wins than anyone initially anticipated. While I do not think a Best Film win here will translate to a Best Picture win at the Oscars, it is worth keeping an eye on “All Quiet On The Western Front” in categories such as Best Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, and Adapted Screenplay along with its expected win for Best International Feature.

“The Banshees Of Inisherin” Has A Strange Night

At the evening’s start, it looked like Martin McDonagh’s “The Banshees Of Inisherin” would be the overall victor by taking the first two acting wins of the evening. Kerry Condon won Best Supporting Actress, beating out current Oscar favorite Angela Bassett and making that particular race more heated as all eyes look toward SAG this weekend for their final showdown. Bassett must win there to ensure she stays ahead of the race after winning at the Critics Choice and Golden Globes. If Kerry Condon wins at SAG, though, coupled with the fact she’s starring in a Best Picture nominee while Bassett is not, this will give her the edge heading into Oscar night. However, Best Supporting Actor provided the night’s biggest shock, as Barry Keoghan won over the heavy favorite Ke Huy Quan for “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” For most of the award season, it was presumed that if any boy from “The Banshees Of Inisherin” could win in this category, it would be the overdue veteran character actor Brendan Gleeson. Still, it was fantastic to see Keoghan up on stage and be recognized by the British Academy. While I joyfully expect Ke Huy Quan to win at the SAG Awards and eventually at the Oscars, seeing someone else be given the spotlight is a welcome breath of fresh air.

Despite that strong start and wins for Best Original Screenplay and Outstanding British Film, “The Banshees Of Inisherin” lost Best Film to “All Quiet On The Western Front.” While we can all assume that “The Banshees Of Inisherin” was second place, the fact that it was not the top film for the British voting body means that it may struggle more than we initially assumed in a preferential ballot for Best Picture at the Oscars against “Everything Everywhere All At Once” which has such a passionate fanbase. If there was one group of support that the film needed to cement itself as a top contender in this year’s race, it was BAFTA. Not only that, but the acting race predicted to be the easiest win for “The Banshees Of Inisherin” at the BAFTAs ended up being the one it lost: Leading Actor. It will need to win PGA plus SAG at this point if it’s going to position itself as the alternative to “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” Otherwise, without a clearly established and unified no. 2 film, A24 will likely still pull out a Best Picture victory.

“Elvis” Has Entered The Building

For Colin Farrell to stay in the Best Actor race, he needed to win at BAFTA on his home turf. However, BAFTA awarded Best Leading Actor to Austin Butler for “Elvis,” another film that won four awards last night. Of those four awards, “Elvis” also won Best Makeup & Hairstyling and Casting, two of which cemented the love for Austin Butler alongside his Best Leading Actor win. Previously, the Best Casting award has been given to one shining casting choice, and in the case of “Joker,” it would go to the film that would eventually win for Joaquin Phoenix at both the BAFTAs and the Oscars. This is an apparent show of strength for a biopic performance that is incredibly flashy and will have the additional support of a potential Best Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar win to match the transformative approach taken by Butler. While we still have to wait and see what SAG does, this was a huge win for Butler in a fiercely competitive Best Actor race. Brendan Fraser could still win at SAG for “The Whale,” but the lack of a Best Picture nomination for Darren Aronofsky’s film hurts his chances at Oscar, considering he’s now lost the Golden Globe and the BAFTA. Unless Colin Farrell surprisingly rebounds at SAG (which would be odd considering he couldn’t pull out a victory here), Austin Butler is the current frontrunner to take the Oscar next month.

The Only Potential Acting Sweeper Is Cate Blanchett

With Ke Huy Quan and Angela Bassett failing to score a BAFTA win, only one performer is sweeping the awards season so far – Cate Blanchett for “TÁR.” Having won the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, and BAFTA and earning prestigious critic group wins from NYFCC, LAFCA, NSFC, and LFCC; it is becoming increasingly difficult to look at her accolades and see how she can lose the Oscar. Even when the Critics’ Choice Awards went all in for “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” they couldn’t give their Best Actress award to Michelle Yeoh. This is the one category in which “TÁR” is undoubtedly the frontrunner, and with the number of Oscar nominations it received, the Academy will likely want to reward it somewhere. Michelle Yeoh’s final stand is at SAG, and if Blanchett wins on Sunday, the race will officially be over.

“Top Gun: Maverick” Does Not Come Out On Top

Despite being hailed as “the savior of cinema” in 2022 by Steven Spielberg, Joseph Kosinski’s over $1 billion grosser “Top Gun: Maverick” walked away empty-handed at the BAFTAs. While it was clear that it would lose Best Visual Effects to “Avatar: The Way Of Water,” it also lost out on both Best Sound (which went to “All Quiet On The Western Front“) and Film Editing (which went to “Everything Everywhere All At Once“). This is a vital pairing that usually goes together statistically at the Oscars, with films such as “Dunkirk,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Ford v Ferrari,” “Sound Of Metal,” and “Dune” all winning both Best Film Editing and Sound. We are still waiting on the Cinema Audio Society so that we will be able to give a better look at whether “All Quiet On The Western Front” is a legitimate contender to shock in Best Sound or if it was just an extra vote of support from the British Academy. However, for a film that benefits heavily from the preferential ballot and with clear support for Tom Cruise from industry heavyweights such as Spielberg and the movie being such a vital part of the theatrical experience last year, it would be shocking if “Top Gun: Maverick” walks away with zero Oscars. For those still thinking it can win Best Picture, that plane has almost taken off as a PGA, and a surprise WGA win is needed to show industry support for “Top Gun: Maverick” and keep it in the Best Picture conversation.

Are The BAFTAs Everything To “Everything Everywhere All At Once?”

If there was anywhere that “Everything Everywhere All At Once” would under-perform, it was always going to be at BAFTA. Currently, the support for the film elsewhere leading up to the BAFTAs has many still feeling confident the film will do well at the Oscars. The win for Best Film Editing is enormous here, and it now only needs the American Cinema Editors Award (ACE) to officially sweep the significant precursors for this category across the board (CCA, BAFTA & ACE), potentially overcoming the Sound/Editing stat to take home Best Film Editing on Oscar night (which could also be a sign of an upcoming Best Picture win earlier in the evening). The Daniels may have lost Best Director here, but it was to Edward Berger for “All Quiet On The Western Front,” who isn’t even nominated at the Oscars. The fact that the Daniels didn’t lose to Todd Field or Martin McDonagh (both Oscar-nominated), paired with their DGA win on Saturday night over their biggest competition, this year’s Golden Globe winner Steven Spielberg, keeps them in a solid position to win Best Director at the Oscars. With Ke Huy Quan expected to still win the rest of the season at SAG and the Oscars, and having an overall potential win haul for Best Director, Supporting Actor, and Film Editing puts “Everything Everywhere All At Once” still in the driver’s seat to potentially win Best Picture.

The Rise And Fall Of “Babylon”

Well, it looks like “Babylon” will walk away with one Oscar win, but not in the category we may have originally predicted. It seems pretty secure in Best Production Design, with a win at BAFTA, making it a sweeper across the category for CCA, ADG, and now, BAFTA. For a film about Hollywood, there is a clear formula for future Best Production Design winners, which perfectly fits the mold of previous winners as of late such as “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” and “Mank.” However, Justin Hurwitz lost the BAFTA for Best Score to “All Quiet On The Western Front,” a film with a distinct score and a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. If you are not a Best Picture nominee and don’t sweep the major precursors, it becomes more challenging to make a case for an Oscar win, which is what happened here now that “Babylon” has failed to win the Critics Choice Award (bizarrely losing to “TÁR“) and now BAFTA. While this could be another case of the British Academy throwing another bone at their favorite film of the year, there is reason to believe this will transfer at the Oscars. Many of us have been burned before by the Academy not supporting Justin Hurwitz for “First Man,” and despite “Babylon” is a lot of voters’ favorite score in this year’s race, we may just have to face the music and predict another loss for the brilliant Hurwitz at the Oscars in favor of another win for “All Quiet On The Western Front.”

Animated And International Are Locked In, While Documentary Is Not

Unsurprisingly, “All Quiet On The Western Front” won Best Film Not in the English Language, and “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” won Best Animated Film. If there were two categories this year that feel like locks going into the Oscars, it would be those two (along with “Avatar: The Way Of Water” for Best Visual Effects, of course). However, the same cannot be said for Best Documentary Feature, as the BAFTAs awarded their prize to “Navalny.” It shouldn’t be surprising that a British voting body supported “Navalny” in this category. Many of the stars who attended the BAFTAs last night wore a blue ribbon to show support for those in Ukraine who have been at war with Russia over the past year, and the writers of “All Quiet On The Western Front” spoke about the war as part of their acceptance speech for Best Adapted Screenplay. The UK Government has given much support to Ukraine over the past year, and many refugees have traveled to the country to seek shelter, so it is no surprise that a film about the Russian political system and defying Putin would win out here. While it was low on many’s predictions, Next Best Picture has held firm for the entire year that this vital connection would give this film the edge in Best Documentary Feature, and we’re finally starting to see that play out. However, there are still compelling cases to be made for “Fire Of Love,” which just won Sara Dosa the DGA for Directing, and “All The Beauty And The Bloodshed,” which remains a critical darling from earlier in the year after it started the season in a big way winning the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival. Regarding final Oscar predictions, this may be the most challenging category to predict.

Is the love for “All Quiet On The Western Front” going to carry over at the Oscars in such a big way as it did yesterday at BAFTA? Probably not as much, but seeing it recognized so enthusiastically here was great, considering there won’t be many more opportunities to do so until we get to the Academy Awards (it is not nominated for PGA, WGA, or SAG). Netflix had a fantastic night and will want to carry that momentum as much as possible, so expect them to continue pushing this film hard over the next few days. After taking a heavy beating in the Best Picture race, it is possible “Everything Everywhere All At Once” will gain back its momentum once again next Sunday at the SAG Awards. The BAFTAs gave us a couple of puzzle pieces, but now we have to wait for the rest of the guilds and precursors to fill in the gaps so we can see the whole picture before the Oscars next month.

What did you think of the BAFTA Awards yesterday? What was your favorite winner? How do you think they will influence the Oscars? How many Academy Awards are you now predicting “All Quiet On The Western Front” to win? Please let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account, be sure to check out our latest Oscar nomination predictions here.

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Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Editor In Chief at The Gaudie. Awards Editor at Insession Film. Scotland based film critic.

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