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10 Things I Learnt at the 2017 BAFTAs



1. Glamour is best served hot. Ok, we didn’t get the usual sleet, snow or lashing rain at Sunday’s Baftas but it was so cold, a hurricane would have been quite welcome. The excitement of being swept away like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz might have warmed us up. As it was, even the presence of Viggo Mortensen couldn’t heat up South Kensington.

While goosebumps and gorgeous gowns are not the best combination for the stars on the red carpet, at least they get to move. Press and fans are herded up and put in pens so full they make the rush hour tube seem like a picnic. While on the tube you only get people’s armpits in your face, on the Baftas red carpet you get that and a poke in the eye from the enormous camera lens of outer Mongolian state owned tv while you despondently ponder which of your digits you could reasonably do without if they drop off due to frostbite.

2. The fans are amazing. Some had queued for 3 days in the freezing weather just to catch a glimpse of the top of an A lister’s head over the cameras and phones held aloft by a 5 line deep crowd.

Not all the stars give back to these dedicated fans or the waiting media.While most will spend up to an hour doing interviews, signing autographs and posing for selfies, others flounce past as if they might catch something nasty if they linger.

3. This year the most exuberant fans were those waiting for Emma Stone and Emily Blunt. I chatted with a group of young girls who had made banners for both stars and declared they would cry, scream, faint (in that order) if either woman acknowledged their brightly coloured work. They had seen La La Land 9 times and The Girl on the Train several times and they had been up since the crack of dawn to get their place in the public pen. I really hoped, for their sakes that their idols would spot them and come and say hello.

I’m pleased to report that Emily Blunt was as charming and delightful as you would hope the new Mary Poppins would be. She not only spotted the girls’ banner but came over and posed with it and took a selfie with the group. When I spoke to the girls, they were still trembling with excitement and just a little weepy! Emma Stone was also very sweet and took time to sign and pose for photos. Likewise, Daisy Ridley and Nicole Kidman were also lovely with the fans. JK Rowling not so much. I will say no more.

4. Leonardo Di Caprio didn’t attend on Sunday but last year he proved he was the biggest star in the world. His appearance on the red carpet caused pandemonium. A woman near me surely burst a blood vessel or three as she flung her arms up in supplication to the heavens and cried ‘oh my God, it’s only fucking Leonardo DiCaprio!’And it was. There was no one who inspire that level of adulation this time and I do wonder who there is these days to take the place of such uber idols like DiCaprio, Pitt, Depp and Cruise who can appeal to global audiences of all ages.

5. If you’re going to be on the red carpet hoping to speak to a star or two, it’s best to do some research. Telling Daisy Ridley you loved her in Rogue One probably wasn’t the finest moment for the guy next to me.

Stephen Fry is a national treasure but even national treasures can get dusty. His schtick as host is getting too predictable: the velvet smoking jacket (a size too small), the flamboyant vocabulary, the over the top compliments for the Hollywood egos in the room, the smooching a star – we’ve seen it too many times now. A British version of a Tina Fey/Amy Poehler type shake-up could work wonders with Fry coming back every other year as the safe, cultured pair of hands.

6.  Donald Trump owns Hollywood. For the past 3 months now, at the moment of victory he seems to be uppermost in the thoughts of most winners. Some would rather forget to thank parents, children and partners than not get a cheap jibe in at the President. It might have seemed new 3 months ago but having heard the ‘outrage’ now at every ceremony, the speeches just seem rehearsed and insincere. Some smack too much of attention seeking too. We get it, you’re not happy with the election result but it’s getting stale now. Too many awards ceremonies this season have had a more funereal vibe than the Oscars which took place the year the Iraq War was actually happening at the same time.

7. Kenneth Lonergan can write a great script but his speech about his daughter crying over Trump’s election win and refusing to go to school until her mother persuaded her to ‘go help all the other kids who are hurting too’ was cringeworthy. Especially when he seemed to compare the girl’s distress to the loss people feel when they are bereaved!!!

8. BAFTA knows which awards bore people. Oscars, watch and learn. No dreary song category, no interpretive dance numbers, no real toilet break awards for best animated short in a foreign language made on an iphone or whatever keeps the Oscars going longer than the runtime of the director’s cut of Titanic.

9. BAFTA can often be a little too in awe of American talent. Given a choice of giving an award to a deserving British/Irish actor and a huge American star, the Baftas will go for the big US star. However, this year the awards were widely distributed which was nice. While I don’t think his performance warranted it, it was nice to see Dev Patel, a British Indian win for best supporting actor. British Asians are the biggest ethnic minority group in this country and I believe will also be the dominant ethnic minority group in the Hollywood film industry along with South Americans in the coming years.

10. All the winners deserved their awards. Now, come on, yes, they did. Even if your favourite didn’t win, it’s churlish not to congratulate those who did. They were all deserving – in their own way.


Best Popular Category Had ‘Stake Driven Through Its Heart’, But Isn’t Dead Says Oscars President



John Bailey, the president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (who oversees the Oscars), has spoken candidly about the awards show’s bid to bring in more viewers with a distinct ‘Best Achievement in Popular Film’ award.

You’ll remember it as being the category that suffered a very public and embarrassing controversy in which Academy members openly rejected it earlier in the year, prompting the organisation to ‘temporarily shelve’ their plans until they could conduct a proper review. Speaking at the EnergaCamerimage Film Festival in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Bailey stated that the award had “seemed like a good idea, the board approved it, announced it, but we got a lot of pushback.”

“So the board reconsidered and tabled it – which is not to say that the idea is dead. Even after a stake was driven through its heart, there’s still interest.”

The Academy has a “generous” deal with ABC, who have agreed to fund and air the telecast until 2028. The challenge, in those intervening years, is to somehow save the show from haemorrhaging even more viewers. As Bailey says: “We have another decade, and we’re already starting to deal with the problem. There’s desire to expand the awards to millennials, many of whom do not have TV.”

ABC, who are majority-owned by the Walt Disney Corporation, may take some umbrage with the idea of no longer being the sole home of the Oscars, but one idea that has been repeatedly floating around is to air the telecast on the forthcoming Disney+ streaming service – a more palatable option, perhaps, for younger viewers.

However, when it comes to the concept of new categories that aren’t Best Popular, Bailey was considerably more cagey. Asked if we could see awards for motion-capture, stunt-performers, or achievements in casting, the president said: “A number of different crafts would like to be represented and there are ongoing discussions about creating new branches, but right now we’re trying to reduce the size of the board. However, nothing is written in stone.”

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Black Panther Faces Uphill Battle With Academy Voters In Bid For Awards Success



It’s no secret that Marvel Studios’ head Kevin Feige wants an Oscar. And not just any Oscar, at that. No, much like Walt Disney before him, Feige wants to position one of his features – traditionally not in the wheelhouse of the average Academy voter – and push it (in this case, director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther) towards a Best Picture win.

With the Academy’s retraction of their proposed ‘Best Popular’ category, Marvel’s movies’ chances looked – in all honest – scuppered, at least for any kind of non-technical nomination. But that hasn’t deterred Disney and Marvel Studios from pushing ahead regardless, and reports are coming in that the standard studio schmoozing, soirees and cocktail gatherings that accompany Best Picture bids have begun in Black Panther’s favour.

That’s not to say, of course, that it’ll be an easy sell. At a voter-screening and Q&A in August – six months after it released in cinemas to the tune of over $1 billion worldwide – 75% of the Academy members in attendance admitted that it was their first time seeing the feature. Despite the fact that the film had connected with general audiences in the way that it had, and become the pop cultural meta-success of the year, the film is so far outside of the Academy’s comfort zone that the picture faces a genuine uphill battle for a shot at a nomination. In a year in which it was the mega-hit to beat, Black Panther has become the underdog.

Coogler, who took the majority of the year off to recuperate after a packed press run and a lengthy production schedule on the superhero flick, recently reappeared in LA social circles at a Hollywood event last month and has begun the rounds in order to help Black Panther’s chances. Star Chadwick Boseman has also been incredibly proactive in campaigning for the film, meeting as many Academy members as possible. Scheduling hasn’t always been in the feature’s favour, however. Michael B. Jordan, the film’s most legitimate shot for an acting nomination, has been in high-demand, and is presently shooting Just Mercy in Atlanta.

When asked about the film in recent months, however, Jordan has eschewed awards talk in favour of focusing on the film’s cultural impact: “One of my highlights was just watching kids react to it and seeing themselves on-screen,” he’s on record saying, “Having people watch the movie four or five times, taking church members, taking boys’ and girls’ clubs — kids that didn’t have the opportunity to actually go to the movie theatre, they were bussing them in to see this film. To be a part of something that big and impactful is really important.”

Superhero films have, traditionally, been ignored entirely by the Academy. Last year’s nomination for Logan, under Best Adapted Screenplay, came as a surprise to many. But perhaps change is coming, and Feige may just get his wish. The nominations for 2019’s Oscars ceremony will be announced on the 22nd January, so there’s less than three months until the big reveal. Meanwhile, Black Panther is out now on 4K, Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital, rated 12A.

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Here Are All 25 Films Officially Submitted For The Best Animated Oscar Race



The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organisation responsible for hosting and running the annual Oscars ceremony, has revealed a full list of the twenty-five films submitted for consideration and shortlisting in the Best Animated Feature Film category.

The complete list is, alphabetically, as follows:

  • Ana y Bruno
  • Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
  • Early Man
  • Fireworks
  • Have a Nice Day
  • Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
  • Incredibles 2
  • Isle of Dogs
  • The Laws of the Universe – Part 1
  • Liz and the Blue Bird
  • Lu over the Wall
  • MFKZ
  • Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
  • Mirai
  • The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl
  • On Happiness Road
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • Ruben Brandt, Collector
  • Sgt. Stubby: American Hero
  • Sherlock Gnomes
  • Smallfoot
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Tall Tales
  • Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
  • Tito and the Birds

Five nominees will be shortlisted from the list, and submitted for final voting on the 22nd of January, 2019. As things stand, the submission list is arguably one of the weakest in modern memory, with Wes Anderson’s stop-motion feature Isle of Dogs and Disney Pixar’s CG animated flick Incredibles 2 the clear front-runners.

The 91st Academy Awards will take place on the 24th of February next year, at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.

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