Monday, July 22, 2024

Reactions To The 2023 BAFTA Award Longlists

Recently, the BAFTAs began preceding their nominations with an announcement of longlists for each of their film categories, indicating which movies are in the running for each award. This awards show represents a helpful guide to awards followers, as, unlike most precursors, it has significant voter overlap with the Academy. This morning’s longlist announcement contained its fair share of shocking snubs and surprising inclusions, so let’s take a look at some of the most significant takeaways and see what they mean for the rest of the awards season.

Hometown Advantage
As always, the British voting body specifically embraced several films produced in the UK. This includes both films that were already being discussed for potential Oscar nominations, like “All of Us Strangers,” “Napoleon,” “Saltburn,” and “The Zone of Interest,” but also ones that are more typically outside of the Academy’s radar, including “Scrapper,” “Rye Lane,” and “Wonka.” They also clearly liked “How to Have Sex,” which is scheduled for a February 2 release in the United States and is therefore ineligible for the upcoming Oscars. What’s likely to come from this is a hefty number of nominations for the heavy hitters “All of Us Strangers” and “The Zone of Interest.” When it comes to those films’ Oscar chances, the former needs all the help it can get as it’s right on the outside of many Oscar categories, according to most pundits. Best Actor and Adapted Screenplay are its likeliest chances at the Academy Awards, and any BAFTA recognition would only help. As for the Oscar prospects of “The Zone of Interest,” that’s already a major contender with a strong chance of being nominated for Best Picture, Director, and International Film. The seemingly inevitable BAFTA attention it will receive should also boost its chances in less certain categories like Best Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress for Sandra Hüller, and Sound.

Supporting Actor Surprises
By far, the most notable omissions and inclusions were to be found in Best Supporting Actor. What’s sure to be the biggest headline from today’s announcement is the snub of Charles Melton (“May December“). He’s received glowing reviews, wins at significant early awards like the Gothams and New York Film Critics Circle (plus a huge number of nominations and wins from regional critics groups), and nominations from the Critics Choice Awards and Golden Globes. Most awards experts have him penciled in for an Oscar nomination, especially considering the excellent overall reaction that the film has received. His exclusion from the BAFTA longlists is, frankly, shocking. He’s still very much in the running for an Oscar nomination, especially with a likely SAG nod on the horizon. Still, a BAFTA nomination would’ve helped secure his chances even further. “May December” was noticeably missing from most categories, only receiving mentions in Original Screenplay and Supporting Actress for Julianne Moore.

Besides Melton, plenty of other expected names were nowhere to be found in Best Supporting Actor. Sterling K. Brown (“American Fiction“), Willem Dafoe (“Poor Things“), Colman Domingo (“The Color Purple“), and Glenn Howerton (“BlackBerry“) were all excluded. Instead, the BAFTAs went with Jacob Elordi (“Saltburn“), Anthony Hopkins for “One Life” (which has yet to be released in the United States), Ben Whishaw (“Passages“), and two men from “All of Us Strangers” – Jamie Bell and Paul Mescal. The latter two fellows are the likeliest to benefit down the road from these BAFTA mentions, especially if either of them can manage an actual nomination.

The Gang’s All Here
While everyone’s first instinct upon an announcement like this is to look for the most shocking snubs, it’s also worth noting which films did well, even if their adoration was expected. The big players that received nominations in virtually every category they could include “Barbie,” “The Holdovers,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Maestro,” “Oppenheimer,” “Past Lives,” and “Poor Things.” In fact, the only spots where these films were surprisingly missing are Best Film Editing for “The Holdovers” and Best Supporting Actor for Willem Dafoe’s performance in “Poor Things.”

When films perform as expected, it’s helpful to look for their most surprising nods to understand how adored they are by the industry. “Past Lives” received a somewhat surprising mention for Teo Yoo in Leading Actor and Best Film Not in the English Language, much like at the Golden Globes. “Barbie” capped off its haul with mentions in Cinematography, Original Score, Visual Effects, and Supporting Actress for America Ferrera, making her chances of an Oscar nomination even more likely. “Killers of the Flower Moon” was also present in Supporting Actress for Cara Jade Myers’ performance as Anna, Mollie’s (Lily Gladstone) sister. And, of course, the Best Picture favorite “Oppenheimer” was everywhere, making it into every single category where it was eligible, including Best Visual Effects, where it’s no longer a contender for the Oscar after its omission from the Academy’s shortlist. 

Bad Day At The BAFTAs
Although most of the major contenders received their expected mentions on the longlists, some films that were lower on the tier of Oscar chances didn’t have as good of a day. Specifically, the aforementioned “May December,” along with “The Color Purple” and “Society of the Snow.” The musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel only received two shout-outs for Fantasia Barrino and Danielle Brooks’ performances (notably, these are also the only nominations the film received from the Golden Globes). It needed this boost to help its Oscar chances in Best Picture, Director, and Costume Design. It was also missing from yesterday’s Costume Designers Guild nominations announcement, despite that guild spreading their nominees across three distinct categories. It’s beginning to look like the film’s best chances for Oscar nods are for its two consistently nominated actresses.

Society of the Snow” was only cited in the Best Film Not in the English Language category. It’s a significant crafts contender from Netflix, squarely in the running for several Oscar races, including Best Score, Makeup & Hairstyling, Visual Effects, and Director. The BAFTAs are typically more friendly towards international films than most voting bodies, making these omissions even more of a head-scratcher.

Female Directors Receive Their Due
While most feature film categories consist of ten films (Outstanding British Film receives 15 thanks to an additional five films selected by a jury), the Best Director category consists of a whopping 16 films. This is due to the BAFTA’s concerted effort to achieve greater gender equity in this category, with a required even split between male and female contenders. Subsequently, the following female directors received mentions: Justine Triet (“Anatomy of a Fall“), Greta Gerwig (“Barbie“), Molly Manning Walker (“How to Have Sex“), Celine Song (“Past Lives“), Sofia Coppola (“Priscilla“), Raine Allen-Miller (“Rye Lane“), Emerald Fennell (“Saltburn“), and Charlotte Regan (“Scrapper“). Notably, these films were already major Oscar contenders, embraced by the BAFTA longlists, or both. It’s encouraging to see the BAFTA voting body putting in the work to highlight female-directed films, not just where required in the Best Director category. In addition, arguably, none of the expected male nominees were missing here, with somewhat surprising mentions for Andrew Haigh (“All of Us Strangers“) and Cord Jefferson (“American Fiction“). The “American Fiction” nod is especially notable as that film was left off of the Best Film longlist.

Casualties In the Acting Races
Even with a combined 40 names mentioned across four categories, there were still notable omissions for actors who desperately needed BAFTA attention to keep their Oscar hopes alive. Despite a mention for his supporting colleague Ben Whishaw, leading man Franz Rogowski was missing from Best Actor for his acclaimed performance in “Passages.” Fans may worry that Zac Efron was also nowhere to be found for “The Iron Claw,” but this is almost certainly because the film has yet to be released to the public in the UK (it’s scheduled for a February 9 opening). As previously mentioned, the Supporting Actor is missing Glenn Howerton (“BlackBerry“) and Colman Domingo (“The Color Purple“). Supporting Actress had several casualties, including Penélope Cruz (“Ferrari“), Rachel McAdams (“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.“), and Taraji P. Henson (“The Color Purple“). These actors could still receive attention from SAG, the last televised precursor where they have a chance for a nomination. A nod from their fellow actors could still indicate potential for an Oscar nomination. And, of course, an actor can still get a nod from the Academy with no significant precursor attention – Andrea Riseborough did it just last year for “To Leslie.”

Settling The Score
One of the more unexpected line-ups can be found in Best Original Score. Thanks to the recent shortlist announcement, we already have a good idea of where this category is heading for the Oscars. But the BAFTAs surprisingly excluded, among others, “The Boy and the Heron,” “Society of the Snow,” and “The Zone of Interest.” Instead, the following films that are still in the running for the Oscar received BAFTA mentions that were less expected: “American Fiction,” “Barbie,” “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” and “Saltburn.” While three of these films are considered overall contenders for the Oscars, it’s significant that the BAFTAs embraced John Williams’ score for the fifth “Indiana Jones” film. The master composer is obviously an Academy favorite, with a head-spinning 53 nominations to his name, along with five wins. He was nominated for all three of the films in the series’ initial 1980s run but not for the 2008 sequel “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” The 91-year-old legend appears to be in a more favorable position with the Academy nowadays, after receiving nominations for all three of the most recent “Star Wars” films, along with last year’s “The Fabelmans.” Can the legend’s reputation overcome “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’s” lackluster reviews and box office?

What were your biggest surprises from this morning’s BAFTA longlists announcement? What do you think will ultimately receive BAFTA nominations? Did any of this change your current Oscar predictions? You can see our latest Oscar predictions here and please let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account and check out our latest Oscar predictions here.

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Cody Dericks
Cody Dericks
Actor, awards & musical theatre buff. Co-host of the horror film podcast Halloweeners.

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