The Awards Blog #8: The 2014 BAFTA Predictions

The British Academy Film Awards are going to be held on Sunday, the 16th of February, and what better way to usher in the most exciting weekend of the British film calendar than with another prediction post? The BAFTA nominations – the T, by the way, standing for Television because of the governing body’s authority over that form of entertainment too – threw up some minor surprises but there are still frontrunners in every category so here’s a look at who is expected to win.

First up, the categories where the winners are well thought out…

Best Film

Nominees: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Philomena

The BAFTAs have often been accused of a pro-British tilt and there have been a few occasions where that might have been warranted. Best Film, however, largely avoids such accusations because of the existence of a separate category for British films. Given the fact that Gravity is in the latter category, as well as the less favoured Philomena, the likeliest winner here is 12 Years a Slave. And let’s face it, it would be a deserving winner.


Best Director

Nominees: Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), David O. Russell (American Hustle), Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

A strong crop of contenders here. O. Russell is the actors’ favourite as he was last year. Scorsese and Greengrass are the experienced duo. But it comes down to McQueen and Cuarón as it has all season. McQueen might be a local favourite, but I’m sticking with my Globes prediction and saying a win for Alfonso Cuarón. If anyone other than those two win, I will eat my hat.


Best Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees: Christian Bale (American Hustle), Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)

Bale, Dern, Dicaprio and Hanks give excellent performances but with Matthew McConaughey missing out on a nomination, it looks like it is full steam ahead for Chiwetel Ejiofor. He and McConaughey have been vying for wins throughout the year and the American has been coming out on top lately, so a return to the winner’s podium could give the Brit the boost he needs before the Oscars.


Best Actress in a Leading Role

Nominees: Amy Adams (American Hustle), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)

Despite the calibre of the nominees, I draw your attention to the hat I mentioned a couple of categories ago. Remember that? Well, I will buy an entire store’s worth and eat those if Cate Blanchett misses out on adding to her trophy cabinet. (If the British Film Academy is reading this, please don’t make me do this. My finances won’t hold out.)


Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Daniel Brühl (Rush), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Matt Damon (Behind the Candelabra), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

The pain for Dallas Buyers Club continues with a snub for Jared Leto here – something I still need to get over – so the race has truly been blown open. It is nice to see a nod for Damon because of the theatrical release of Behind the Candelabra in the UK, but he is unlikely to win. So are Brühl, also a refreshing nominee, and Cooper. It is down to Fassbender and Abdi in this one. The latter was an outside contender until he picked up the London Film Critics’ Circle Award recently. My money is still on Michael Fassbender but with his co-stars also favourites to lift their respective acting trophies, it would not be a massive upset if the Academy gave this win to a different film.


Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Nominees: Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), Oprah Winfrey (The Butler)

Lawrence had looked like an early contender for this award, having missed out at the BAFTAs last year to Emmanuelle Riva. Unfortunately, she seems to have lost her momentum and has not picked up any critics awards this side of the Atlantic. Although I would not completely rule out an upset, Lupita Nyong’o is the heavy favourite here. Unless, of course, Oprah decides to surprise the entire British Film Academy with brand new cars. Hey, it could happen…


Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine), Joel and Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis), Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón (Gravity), Bob Nelson (Nebraska), Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell (American Hustle)

It is a good thing that the BAFTAs have enough integrity to not pick winners based on their juicy private lives; Allen’s is the weakest screenplay in this group. The Cuaróns I also exclude because the strength of their project lay elsewhere. Nelson is unlikely to pick up a consolation win because the BAFTAs don’t treat the screenplay prize as such. It comes down to Singer and O. Russell, and the Coens (who admittedly might view a win here as a consolation). At the risk of losing whatever fictional indie cred I have, I think Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell will win, letting O. Russell win back-to-back screenplay prizes in different categories.


Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (Philomena), Richard LaGravenese (Behind the Candelabra), Billy Ray (Captain Phillips), John Ridley (12 Years a Slave), Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street)

The only person I can seriously discount is LaGravenese, who is probably just happy to be nominated at a film awards show. All the others are solid pieces of writing that would make worthy winners. The BAFTAs have a habit of picking more dramatic winners – last year’s Silver Linings Playbook not withstanding – so Winter might be at a disadvantage. And Ray’s script might have relied too much on the actors. Coogan and Pope could pull off the night’s one sentimental win, and it would not be undeserved. I think John Ridley is still the likeliest winner, but if there is any major category I am completely unsure of getting right, it is this one.


Best Cinematography

Nominees: Sean Bobbitt (12 Years a Slave), Barry Ackroyd (Captain Phillips), Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity), Bruno Delbonnel (Inside Llewyn Davis), Phedon Papamichael (Nebraska)

Another one of the categories where Gravity and 12 Years a Slave are the likeliest front-runners, many would pick Lubezki for the win this time. However, they would forget two things. The first is the harrowing long shot of Solomon Northup getting punished in a crucial moment of 12 Years a Slave. The second is that Lubezki is the only one of the two up for an Oscar. Sean Bobbitt takes it here.


Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer

Nominees: Colin Carberry, writer, and Glenn Patterson, director (Good Vibrations), Kieran Evans, writer/director (Kelly + Victor), Scott Graham, writer/director (Shell), Kelly Marcel, writer (Saving Mr. Banks), Paul Wright, writer/director, and Polly Stokes, producer (For Those in Peril)

This category normally rewards the more obscure nominees, so it would perhaps be prudent to not pick the one well-known film on the list. However, Saving Mr. Banks has had an unusual amount of critical and commercial success worldwide and it seems likely to earn the win for Kelly Marcel.


Outstanding British Film

Nominees: Gravity, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Philomena, Rush, Saving Mr. Banks, The Selfish Giant

Had 12 Years a Slave not been a contender for Best Film this year, Gravity would have assuredly picked up that prize, leaving the door open for one of the more obviously British films to take home this one. After all, only once in the history of the BAFTAs has a film won both categories. Unfortunately for the other nominees, it is very likely that Gravity will be walking away with this year’s trophy. That being said, expect Philomena to be on hand if an upset happens. And keep an eye out for The Selfish Giant too; the BAFTAs have been known to reward smaller productions from time to time.


Best Documentary

Nominees: The Act of Killing, The Armstrong Lie, Blackfish, Tim’s Vermeer, We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks

Blackfish and The Armstrong Lie carry a lot of publicity because of their subject matters. Tim’s Vermeer would be a popular choice given its director. We Steal Secrets probably covers the most famous topic. However, as far as being a well-crafted documentary is concerned, The Act of Killing wins this, hands down.


Best Film Not in the English Language

Nominees: The Act of Killing, Blue is the Warmest Colour, The Great Beauty, Metro Manila, Wadjda

BAFTA rules allow home productions to get nominated as long as they are in a language other than English, which means works like Metro Manila do not get ignored. It is unlikely to win though, as are The Act of Killing and Wadjda. The Great Beauty has been the hot favourite but I will agree with the London Critics’ Circle and go with Blue is the Warmest Colour, which had picked up wins earlier in the year.


Best Animated Film

Nominees: Despicable Me 2, Frozen, Monsters University

Pixar has won this award all but two times since its 2006 inception, including a win for Brave last year over what had been seen as the heavy favourite, Wreck-It Ralph. Brave would win at the Oscars too, so the shock of that evening has significantly worn off since then, but parent company Disney is probably more confident of its chances this year with Frozen. Frankly, it is the most deserving winner of the three, so I hope that confidence is rewarded this time


And here are the predictions where I have no idea what I am doing……


Best Original Music

Nominees: Hans Zimmer (12 Years a Slave), John Williams (The Book Thief), Henry Jackman (Captain Phillips), Steven Price (Gravity), Thomas Newman (Saving Mr. Banks)

Maybe I am getting a little bored with picking between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, but I am going to go with Thomas Newman, just because I can remember his score from the film and I cannot with the other nominees. Although that might be because other things on the screen had my attention.


Best Sound

Nominees: All is Lost, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Rush

The almost complete lack of dialogue might have hurt its chances with screenplay, but I get the feeling that will lead All is Lost to a win here because of the amount of audio work it took to compensate for the absence of words.


Best Production Design

Nominees: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Behind the Candelabra, Gravity, The Great Gatsby

Although Gravity would be an interesting choice here because of the uniqueness of its set design, I can see the opulence of Behind the Candelabra propelling it to a win. (The Great Gatsby would apply too but I would hate to have to talk about it as a BAFTA-winner.)


Best Special Visual Effects

Nominees: Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim, Star Trek Into Darkness

As grateful as many people would be to hear Benedict Cumberbatch give a thank you speech on behalf of either of his two nominated projects, the winner here has to be Gravity.


Best Costume Design

Nominees: American Hustle, Behind the Candelabra, The Great Gatsby, The Invisible Woman, Saving Mr. Banks

It’s a sequin-off between the first three nominees but I think the sheer number of different time-appropriate pieces will take American Hustle to the winner’s circle.


Best Makeup and Hair

Nominees: American Hustle, Behind the Candelabra, The Butler, The Great Gatsby, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

American Hustle. Between Christian Bale’s comb-over, Bradley Cooper’s curls, Amy Adams’s ginger explosion and Jennifer Lawrence’s gravity-defying beehive, it’s a wonder anything else got nominated.


Best Editing

Nominees: 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Rush, The Wolf of Wall Street

I am going to go out on a limb and pick Rush for this category just because of the precision its editing team needed to get the racing visuals right.

Having not seen any of the nominees for Best Short Animation and Best Short Film, I will not even attempt to predict the winner there. Nor will I presume to know what the voting public went with for the EE Rising Star Award. I will say that it is probably going to rain on the evening, hoping that my lack of success with predictions allows for a nice dry Sunday night.

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