Nominees for the 2023 BAFTAs and Oscars

Images above: The Oscars and the BAFTAs

There is a disconnect between what is popular with the viewing public and those with the power to vote in the awards, says Andrea Carnevali

As a BAFTA member every year at around this time, my inbox gets packed with emails from all sorts of productions companies and streaming channels, all pushing for attention in promoting their latest films as well as inviting me (and all the other 6,500 members) to all kinds of screenings and Q&As around town. Only yesterday I counted 24 invitations to 24 different screenings.

The hope of course is that by the time I get to choose who to cast my vote for, the memory of those names on those emails will still be fresh in my minds.

Voting is a lot trickier that one might imagine.

Believe me, having to pick up your favourites from a list of around 300 films, with even more names of leading and supporting actors and actresses, directors, cinematographers, editors, music composers, production designers, sound designers and so on, is not an easy task.

But I take this voting job extremely seriously (some people may say “obsessively”).

Image above: The Fabelmans; Universal Pictures

I watch on average a film a day, I write notes about them, I log them on my computer, I review them, I attend all the Q&As, I spend hours talking about all the films with friends, peers and co-workers and I watch as many special features and interviews online as I can fit in a day (luckily I don’t sleep much). Yes, I am that much of a geek.

Of course there are some perks to being a BAFTA member too: I get to see films before everybody else and I get to chat with the stars and the people behind the scenes at private events. This year I had the pleasure of talking to Guillermo del Toro, among many others, after a screening of his splendid Pinocchio and to this day, years later, I’m still recovering from the excitement of chatting with Spielberg himself after a screening of his film Bridge of Spies.

So when the Bafta nominations were finally revealed last week and one of my favourite documentaries of the year (Sr.) and a film like The Fabelmans and its director Spielberg (arguably one of the greatest directors who’s ever lived and one of the frontrunners at the Oscars), happen to be missing from the list, it wasn’t just another “snub”, like many papers have been calling them over the past few days, but it was actually something hurt me a little bit too.

Image above: Frances McDormand in Nomadland; Joshua James Richards/Searchlight Pictures and Hulu

But do people still care about awards?

There’s always been usually a huge disconnect between what is nominated and what actually people like to watch. This is particularly true with both the Baftas and the Oscars. And it’s getting worse. Just look at the recent winners: Nomadland, The Power of the Dog, Coda, Driving My Car. I wonder how many people have actually seen any those.

Of course you won’t be seeing any Marvel film or Avatar, unless of course you count those technical categories, which mostly feel like a consolation prize. Even the latest Top Gun: Maverick, which has been enjoyed by pretty much anyone who saw it, has failed to be nominated in any of the main BAFTA categories.

The Academy, a little bit more audience-friendly, fixed that by nominating the film for six Oscars: Adapted screenplay, Film Editing, Original Song (Hold My Hand by Lady Gaga), Sound, Visual Effects and surprise, surprise, Best Picture.

But generally most of the main nominated titles are the same on both lists and most of them are films which very few people have seen. It’s not surprising that viewing ratings for those award shows have been plummeting. The average viewer just doesn’t seem to connect with many of the nominated films.

Long gone are the days of those massive Oscar winners (and huge hits) like Titanic or Lord of the Rings.

Image above: Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet; 20th Century Fox

There is also something to be said about movie stars in general. They seem to have lost some of their mystique.

It used to be that awards shows were of the few chances we had to see them for who they really were, but nowadays with tabloid magazines, press junkets and especially the internet and social media, we probably see even too much of them. See them accepting an award of sitting in the audience is certainly less exciting that what it could have been decades ago.

There are also way too many award ceremonies and by the time we get to the Oscars there is always a feeling of award exhaustion: Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards, the various Guild of America awards, the SAG awards, the Baftas, the HCA, the BZX (Ok, I made this one up, but you get the idea).

For many people the Baftas look mostly like a carbon copy of the Oscars, often leading many to wonder whether we actually even need them.

But there are notable exceptions. When the British accolades finally diverge a bit from the glossy and glitzy Academy and find their own identity the end up not only promoting and supporting British talent and films, but also shining a light to less obvious choices and smaller gems, giving them a deserved platform.

Image above: Aftersun; Sarah Makharine

Last year for example Joanna Scanlan was awarded as best actress for her splendid performance in After Love, while this year smaller films such as  Aftersun, Brian and Charles, The Woman King, Living have all been given a chance too.

Whether things like See How They Run or even Empire of Light really deserved to be included in the list of “Outstanding British Films”, or whether Angela Bassett in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was really one of the best supporting actress of the year and whether Elvis is really one of the top five films of 2022, are all very debatable considerations, but let’s face it, The Banshees of Inisherin and Everything Everywhere All At Once seem pretty set to score big at the Baftas this year anyway. Who cares about the others?

As for the Oscars you won’t get too many brownie points for guessing that Brendan Fraser’s transformative and emotional performance in The Whale and Cate Blanchet’s note-perfect precision, beauty and grace will both be awarded on 12 March (though it’ll be 13 March at 1am here in the UK).

Michelle Williams, who plays the mother in The Fabelmans was snubbed (here’s the word again) by the BAFTAs, but she still has a chance at the Oscars, after being nominated on four different occasions in the past and missing out on all of them.

Image above: Aftersun; Sarah Makharine

One of the most pleasant surprises from both Baftas and Oscars was seeing Paul Mescal, a virtually unknown actor until a few months ago, appearing on both lists in the best actor category. His portrayal of an emotionally repressed young dad, on holiday in Turkey with his 11-year-old daughter in the film Aftersun, subverted the male stereotypes about fatherhood and gave us one of the most heart-warming characters of the year.

I’m also very pleased to see Navalny getting nominated for best documentary both for BAFTAs and Oscars. I thought it was one of the most gripping films I’ve seen this year, let alone documentary. In fact, it made me feel a bit jealous because this is exactly the kind of film I would like to make myself.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio seems a sure bet for both awards in the animated film category (and deservedly so!), as is the powerful All Quiet on the Western Front for best foreign film. Surprisingly Oscar voters failed to nominate its director Edward Berger despite the nine other nominations for the film.

On the supporting acting category, across the pond there’s been a lot of love for Ke Huy Quan, the former child star from The Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, back in the 1980s, His performance in Everything Everywhere All At Once is not particularly exceptional in my view, but the story of actor’s comeback after almost 40 years is what people mostly seem to talk about.

Image above: Micheal Ward and Olivia Coleman in Empire of Light; Searchlight Pictures

It’s good see Micheal Ward nominated for a Bafta. His performance, together with Olivia Coleman (mysteriously absent from any list) was the highlight of Empire of Light.

But who are we kidding? This is Brendan Gleeson’s year anyway, so let’s not even contemplate any other winner. Though we should probably mention Judd Hirsch who got nominated for an Oscar for a mere 10 minutes in The Fabelmans in which he really steals the show.

He’s also the second oldest person to be nominated, after composer John Williams who this year got his 53rd Oscar nod (he has won five in all, as well as seven BAFTAs): the man is simply a legend.

His nomination for The Fabelmans brings the total for that film to seven awards (only one for a Bafta, for original screen play).

And so, as the award season gets into full swing, the bets are on. Call me old fashioned but I still get excited about this stuff… and it gives me an excuse to watch even more films.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Mamma Mia director pays surprise visit to Chiswick Cinema

See also: Othello at the Lyric, Hammersmith

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