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BAFTA Winners Don’t Blub



“And who are you wearing?”

“Thermals and a parka. It’s a bit nippy.” OK, I’m not banking on that answer from the fragrant Amy Adams at a Baftas red carpet but I’m willing to put a fiver on Tilda Swinton doing me proud one year.

Tilda’s sartorial elegance – channelling her inner David Bowie at the 2012 Golden Globes, and wearing what appeared to be two knotted sheets at the 2008 Oscars – is surely wasted on the American awards where they take everything so seriously. The BAFTAs are more her natural home. Over the years I’ve seen many a guest sashay up the London red carpet having ingeniously doubled the family tablecloth or curtains as a party frock.

It’s not that the BAFTAs can’t do glamour. It’s how glamour is so often juxtaposed with the downright clunky that gives the show its unique character.

It used to be held in April, to hand out consolation prizes to Brits who had lost out at the Oscars the previous month. But after a major makeover, the new February date now makes it an important landmark on the road to the holy grail of film awards, the naked gold man called Oscar.

The ceremony now attracts the cream of the movie crop. You can spot a Cate Blanchett here, a Nicole and Clooney there, even Brad Pitt. And for a moment you can imagine you’re in Tinseltown itself – except for that kebab shop in the background. Happily, even the kebab and pizza place backdrop disappeared in 2009 in favour of the Royal Opera House and this year there’s the beautiful Royal Albert hall. But there’s still the weather.

Cannes may have the aquamarine sea and beaches, Los Angeles the star wattage and sunshine – but only BAFTA serves up a selection of sleet, snow and rain of biblical proportions. Who can forget the year when the red carpet vomited up soap suds that ruined the hem of many a starlet’s designer gown. Those of us who suffered near hypothermia in the press pen certainly won’t. One minute we were interviewing Kate Winslet face-to-face, the next, the Titanic star shrank before our very eyes as her heels were sucked under by the soggy marsh beneath her feet.

Then there are the waiting fans. Unlike the reverential American and European crowds in awe of the “talent”, British fans have their priorities right. “Oi, Scorsese! Get your arse over ‘ere, mate, I haven’t got all day,” is the cleaned up version of one cry I heard. The director quickly got his rear over to the admirer.

It’s tough to do the BAFTA red carpet walk as an unknown. You move quickly, looking neither right nor left so as to avoid the envious but frankly murderous faces of those demanding to know why, you, a NOBODY, are obscuring their view of the cookie-cutter, bottle blonde from a dire romcom whose name they can’t remember but, damn it, she’s been on screen and is therefore a somebody. It doesn’t always happen that way of course: one year the crowd behind me cooed like demented pigeons at the sight of Trinny and Susannah but remained stone cold silent when a blonde woman walked past, before loudly demanding, “who’s she then?”

It was Meryl Streep.

The fans at least may have had an excuse. They only came to scream for “Braaaaaaad”. My colleagues in the press box don’t have any.

Journalist: Michael, why did you look so skinny in Hunger?

Silence. Then, Fassbender: “I was playing Bobby Sands.”

These are the moments that make the hypothermia worthwhile. BAFTA may have its head in the movie clouds, but its red carpet is firmly on the icy ground.

My only gripe with the Baftas is that no one blubs when they win. It’s just not British. Personally, I love a good meltdown at the Oscars. It livens an interminable evening no end. It should actually be mandatory for at least one winner to have to be carried out on a stretcher, overcome as they are by the emotion of finally getting their manicured mitts on the golden baldie. If you can’t get hysterical at the Oscars, where can you?

Then again, if a BAFTA winner wept, you’d probably see snot. So I’ll pass.


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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