Sunday, January 29, 2023

Reactions To The 2023 BAFTA Nominations

Oscar voting closed Tuesday evening, so the nominations for the 95th Academy Awards are set, though we won’t hear them for a few days. Even so, the BAFTA nominations just dropped, giving us one final glimpse into what the Oscar nominations may look like. There’s significant overlap between BAFTA and the Academy, though their tastes differ in many categories yearly. There are many wonderful nominations to dive into, but there are also a few key spots to highlight that could tweak our final Oscar predictions. Let’s explore some of the most consequential BAFTA nominations…

“WOMEN TALKING” MISSES WHILE “BABYLON” IS BARELY MENTIONED
Every year, there’s a film that scores excellent reviews, has a good festival run, seems poised for a good awards season, and then it just doesn’t happen. For some reason, that’s “Women Talking” this year. The film scored a shocking zero nominations, not even in Best Original Score or Best Adapted Screenplay. Similarly, “Babylon,” a film that did receive mixed reviews, didn’t receive a single above-the-line nomination. “Babylon” did get in for Best Production, Costume Design, and Original Score, but with Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt right on the edges of their categories for the Oscar, this isn’t encouraging.

Will “Women Talking” suffer the same fate at the Oscars? I’m inclined to say no, not quite. While the film certainly doesn’t appear it will do well, its shot at a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination seems assured. BAFTA nominated “The Quiet Girl,” an Irish film that is unlikely to break in at the Oscars, and even “She Said,” which performed fine at BAFTAs but has been floundering even more than “Women Talking” in the States. With Best Adapted Screenplay looking somewhat weak, there’s still a chance for “Women Talking” even to win, but that hinges on a Best Picture nomination.

Babylon” will likely score a few craft nominations, but are Robbie and Pitt done? Well, not necessarily, but it’s not looking good. For Robbie, there are just too many significant contenders for Best Actress who have a more compelling case. Competing with BAFTA nominees Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler for that final slot, it seems the Academy would go for the better-reviewed films. And with Eddie Redmayne snagging that coveted fifth spot at BAFTA, SAG, and the Golden Globes, it’s hard to make a case for Brad Pitt, who only has the Golden Globe nomination behind him.

What about Best Picture? For many awards prognosticators, that tenth spot in Best Picture is coming down to “Women Talking,” “Babylon,” or some other surprise (like “RRR“). While it’s essentially anyone’s game, I’m banking on the Adapted Screenplay nomination (and potential win) for “Women Talking.” “Babylon may score more nods overall, but “Women Talking” has the best shot at an above-the-line win. While “RRR” would be incredible (and could happen!), I’m sticking with “Women Talking” for the tenth spot in Best Picture.

NO MICHELLE WILLIAMS OR BEST FILM
The Fabelmans” had an underwhelming morning with the BAFTAs. While we knew this would happen because of the film’s underperformance on the BAFTA longlists, there were still a few expected nominations it missed. Most notably, Michelle Williams was nowhere to be found. After missing SAG, this is a tough pill to swallow. Will Williams be snubbed entirely? It’s increasingly likely. Still, I’m keeping her in my final five for Best Actress. “The Fabelmans” will undoubtedly perform better with the Academy than at BAFTA, where there’s almost no chance of a Steven Spielberg snub. Though there’s been futile discussion of Williams scoring a nomination for Best Supporting Actress, there still seems to be a strong case for her to remain in Best Actress. The last-minute push for Best Supporting Actress came too little too late to make a real difference. Though she has formidable contenders, and it wouldn’t be a shock for her to miss, I’m counting on the strength of “The Fabelmans” to keep her in despite its poor showing today.

ALL QUIET IS LOUD
With a whopping 14 nominations, “All Quiet on the Western Front” was the nomination leader at the BAFTAs. Any doubt about the German film’s strength should be washed away today. The movie scored essentially every possible nomination it could (except Felix Kammerer in Best Actor). This reaffirms what most of us knew: it’s getting into Best Picture at the Oscars.

But what about Edward Berger in Best Director? He got the BAFTA nomination, but so did Park Chan-wook for “Decision To Leave.” Which one will score the Oscar nomination? Personally, this seems like an easy question. Unless “Decision To Leave” surprises in Best Picture, or any other category other than International Feature, I don’t see the case for Park. Remember, with the notable exception of “Parasite,” no Korean films have ever been nominated for any Academy Awards, not even in Best International Feature Film. With many nominations in play, Berger is the no-brainer prediction for Best Director, even if it comes at the expense of James Cameron or Baz Luhrmann.

“AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER” IS WEAKER THAN WE THINK
Nabbing the bare minimum of nominations for Best Sound and Best Special Visual Effects, “Avatar: The Way of Water” showed no strength today. As many of us wrestle with categories like Best Director and Best Cinematography, this should give some needed confirmation. Despite solid reviews and box office receipts that continue to climb, it’s making more and more sense to predict Cameron to be snubbed in Best Director and for it to miss out on Best Cinematography.

While Cinematography has been a bit of a headache trying to keep “Avatar: The Way of Water” in the category, perhaps it’s been simple all along. “Elvis” and “The Batman” were in at ASC and BSC, so I see little reason to doubt them at the Oscars. Add “All Quiet on the Western Front” in place of ASC nominee “Bardo,” and that seems like an easy five. Strange to see “Avatar: The Way of Water” miss the nomination here, but many stranger things have happened.

DOES PAUL MESCAL GET IN AT OSCAR?
The fifth spot in Best Actor has been plaguing Oscar prognosticators for months now. Will it be Hugh Jackman for “The Son,” Tom Cruise for “Top Gun: Maverick,” or even someone like Adam Sandler for “Hustle“? Increasingly it seems likely that it could be Paul Mescal for “Aftersun.” With BAFTA and Critics’ Choice support, there’s a case to be made for Mescal to break through. Jackman scored the Golden Globe nomination, Sandler got the SAG nomination, and Cruise got Critics’ Choice alongside Mescal. While Cruise still makes a lot of sense because of the strength of “Top Gun: Maverick,” Mescal, and “Aftersun” have been on the rise. Is the nomination too cool for the Academy? Possibly. Cynically, Jackman’s nomination makes sense, as one major nomination typically baffles most critics. “The Son” would fit the bill. I will be wrestling with this one until the nominations are announced, but Mescal could easily make the cut.

EDDIE REDMAYNE AND ANA DE ARMAS ARE GETTING IN
Though most of us didn’t think “The Good Nurse” or “Blonde” would be legitimate contenders for major awards, Eddie Redmayne and Ana de Armas both scored nominations from SAG, Golden Globes, and now BAFTA. At this point, there’s no real reason to doubt that they would show up at the Oscars. Redmayne’s a former winner, and Armas is a major star on the rise. The industry has clearly responded to both performances.

For Redmayne, it looks like he would kick out Brad Pitt and dash any hopes of a last-minute surprise for Judd Hirsch from “The Fabelmans.” For de Armas, it’s a bit more complicated since Best Actress is all over the place. Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett are secure. Although Davis was also doubted early on, she has scored everywhere: BAFTA, Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, and SAG. Deadwyler has been more hit or miss, as has Michelle Williams. Robbie is almost certainly out, as we discussed. Some combination of these will make up our five nominees. Some believe Davis could be the miss since every year, there’s typically one acting nominee snubbed despite making every single precursor. I don’t think that’s happening with Davis. So I’m keeping her in, along with Williams, Yeoh, Blanchett, and Armas.

With less than a week left until the Academy Award nominations are unveiled, many of us will likely keep tweaking the predictions right up until the end. BAFTA certainly helped in many of these categories, but nothing is ever guaranteed. Who will be this year’s J.K. Simmons or Judi Dench? Who will be the tenth Best Picture nominee? Will we have a foreign-language nominee for Best Director? Many questions remain, but we’ve got all the information we’re going to get.

How did the BAFTA nominations affect your predictions? What surprises are you predicting from the Oscar nominations? What category is giving you the biggest headache? Please let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account and check out our latest Oscar nomination predictions here.

Daniel Howat
Daniel Howathttps://nextbestpicture.com
Movie and awards season obsessed. Hollywood Critics Association Member.

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