Tuesday, April 23, 2024

What Do The 2024 BAFTA Winners Tell Us About The Oscar Race?

Three weeks before the 96th Academy Awards, the 77th BAFTA award winners were unveiled yesterday. As expected, “Oppenheimer” had a strong evening, taking home a whopping seven awards, including Best Film. While Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece continues to steamroll to a clear victory at the Academy Awards, there are still plenty of races up in the air. While last year, not a single person who won a BAFTA for acting, writing, directing, or producing repeated their win at the Oscars, the BAFTAs often help foreshadow future Oscar winners. Who got a boost from yesterday? Whose chances took a hit? Which categories are still headscratchers? With voting for the Academy Awards starting on February 22nd, let’s dive into the BAFTA winners to see what it tells us about the Oscar race.

Clearly, “Oppenheimer” shows no signs of slowing down heading toward the Oscars. There is no frontrunner backlash here. In addition to Best Film, Nolan won Best Director, concluding his sweep of the category after winning Critics Choice, Golden Globe, DGA, and now, BAFTA. “Oppenheimer” won numerous BAFTA awards that seem all but guaranteed to repeat at the Oscars, particularly in the craft categories. Best Cinematography, Score, and Editing all went to Nolan’s film, though the movie shockingly lost Best Sound to “The Zone of Interest.” While it’s cool to see the meticulously used and stunningly produced sound work from “The Zone of Interest” triumph here, this seems to be more of an outlier than a sign of an upset at the Oscars. “Oppenheimer” should still feel secure in Best Sound, especially if it wins at MPSE and CAS.

Unsurprisingly, “Oppenheimer’s” Robert Downey Jr. continued his stellar sweep in Best Supporting Actor this season, adding a BAFTA to his Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice wins. While we don’t have SAG winners yet, Downey losing there or losing the Oscar seems inconceivable at this point. The same rings true for Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who snagged the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress for her work in “The Holdovers.” Best Actor, on the other hand, is still an intense race. The battle between Cillian Murphy and Paul Giamatti has made things difficult to predict. Murphy took home the BAFTA, along with his win this season at the Golden Globes for Drama Actor. Giamatti lost the BAFTA but picked up the Critics’ Choice Award in addition to the Golden Globe for Comedy/Musical Actor. In such a divided race, all eyes are now on SAG. Last year, the SAG winner, Brendan Fraser, triumphed over the BAFTA winner, Austin Butler. Murphy has the slight edge now, given he’s in the Best Picture frontrunner, but a SAG win for Giamatti could seal the race in his favor.

While earlier in the season, Best Actress seemed as though it would be a slam dunk for Lily Gladstone for her work in “Killers Of The Flower Moon,” BAFTA, however, neglected even to nominate her. Instead, Emma Stone triumphed, adding a BAFTA to her wins at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. Again, our eyes now go to SAG to finally decide this race. While Stone is in great shape to pick up her second Oscar, a win for Gladstone could be enough to sway the race in her favor once again and make this a photo finish at the Academy Awards. In recent years, SAG has leaned toward making more diverse choices for its winners. If Gladstone has the opportunity to make a televised speech right before Oscar voting closes, it could go a long way. Personally, I’m predicting this to happen, but a loss there would be the end of the road for Gladstone as Stone would have a full sweep of the televised awards heading into Oscar night.

Best Actress isn’t the only close race for “Poor Things” that was illuminated at the BAFTAs. The film picked up craft wins for Best Costume Design, Production Design, and Makeup & Hair. In all three categories, it’s been neck-and-neck between “Poor Things” and “Barbie” this season, but the tide is starting to shift toward the former. While “Barbie” took home Critics’ Choice wins in all three categories, these BAFTA wins were pretty significant for “Poor Things.” The Art Directors Guild win for “Poor Things” certainly gives that film the edge heading into the race for the Oscar for Production Design since it beat out “Barbie” head to head, while the showy costumes and popularity of “Barbie” likely give it the edge in Best Costume Design. In Best Makeup & Hairstyling, on the other hand, despite “Poor Things” winning at BAFTA, the strong old-age prosthetics of “Maestro” still put it out front for the Oscars, especially after its win last night at the Makeup & Hair Stylists Guild Awards.

Poor Things” also took home the BAFTA for Best Special Visual Effects, a category it’s not even nominated in at the Oscars. Also not Oscar-nominated is “Oppenheimer,” which won Best Visual Effects at the Critics’ Choice Awards. Without either of these winners in contention, it’ll make predicting Best Visual Effects at the Oscars a crapshoot, especially if “The Creator” doesn’t win at the Visual Effects Society. All eyes will be on VES to see if they can give Gareth Edwards’ film the edge or if they will go with fellow Oscar-nominee “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3.”

Anatomy of a Fall” and “American Fiction” took home Best Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay, respectively. Could these be our two Oscar winners? Indeed, it can’t be that simple. The wins in both screenplay categories have been all over the map, especially with “Barbie” picking up a win in Best Original Screenplay at the Critics’ Choice Awards and now contending for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars. While “The Holdovers” is not an easy challenger, “Anatomy of a Fall” has genuinely picked up so much steam over the last few months, winning the BAFTA puts it clearly out in front to win the Oscar for Original Screenplay. On the Adapted side, “American Fiction” won the only award it was nominated for at BAFTA, which displays a significant sign of strength in this category. It also won at the Critics Choice Awards in this category against “Oppenheimer,” and has been the suspected WGA winner by members of the NBP for months now, even without knowing their nominations yet. But it hasn’t gone up against “Barbie” yet. Without WGA to guide us, we won’t get much more clarity in this race prior to the Academy Awards. Will Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach snag their first Oscars, or will Cord Jefferson triumph for his feature directorial debut? Personally, I’m giving a slight edge to the popularity of “Barbie,” but it could truly go either way.

Finally, “The Boy and the Heron” won the BAFTA for Best Animated Film, an exciting twist in what we initially believed would be an easy run for “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” No animated film has ever lost the Oscar after winning the Golden Globe and BAFTA, as “The Boy and the Heron” has both of those prizes. And yet, if “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” wins PGA and ACE, as is expected, that’s another win combination that has never lost the Oscar. Unless “The Boy and the Heron” surprises at PGA, it won’t have a single guild win, which is a challenging position to be in. While films like “Toy Story 4” and “Big Hero 6” won the Oscar without winning either the BAFTA or the Globe, those races were more divided than the two-headed race we have here. We’re in uncharted territory, but the Academy tends to lean more populist, which should give “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” a slight edge.

After a seemingly divided year, “20 Days in Mariupol” won Best Documentary at the BAFTA, making it easily poised to win the Oscar now. Interestingly, Best Film Not in the English Language went to “The Zone of Interest,” rather than the Best Film nominee and Original Screenplay winner “Anatomy of a Fall.” Regardless, “Anatomy of a Fall” wasn’t eligible for Best International Feature Film at the Oscars, so “The Zone of Interest” will easily win there as well.

Only a few precious precursors remain before the Academy Awards. Even though there’s little tension in the Best Picture race, so many of the categories are up in the air. SAG will likely foretell the acting races, but there’s not much more clarity to be found in the craft categories. Nevertheless, stay tuned to Next Best Picture for more analysis as we get closer to the 96th Academy Awards.

Which BAFTA wins surprised you the most? Which race has you the most confused? What long shots are you still holding out hope for? Please let us know in the comments section below or over on our Twitter account.

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

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