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BAFTA’s 2018: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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For light there is dark. For good there is bad. And for the ugly there is beauty. 

The BAFTAs, the last big awards ceremony before the biggest of them all on March 4th in Los Angeles, took place on Sunday. So how did the ‘British Oscars’ rate? 

The Venue

The Good 

For most non Brits, England means London and Royalty so the majestic Royal Albert Hall in South Kensington is as good as it gets. Gone are the days when the BAFTA’s made do with the Odeon Leicester Square and George Clooney’s head in photographs would be adorned with the logo of a nearby kebab shop. Now  the red carpet is draped across a wide, imposing set of steps and the bright dome of the hall looms beautifully above the swirling skirts of the A-Listers who flock to the event knowing that a win here bodes well for Oscar. 

The Bad  

Have you ever tried entering the Royal Albert Hall? Solving the Rubik’s cube is easier. 

The Host 

The Good

This year Joanna Lumley, officially known as Joanna Lovely took the helm. Since she is both a national treasure and posher than the queen she did so with class and a Stella McCartney dress which made her look like a high ranking member at a Jedi Council meeting called to discuss the exciting discovery of a new prodigy of the Force. 

Although her scriptwriters went easy on the jokes and there were no memorable one liners a la Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Ms Lovely made the evening a relaxed affair in which no American star had to feign amusement as a drink problem they’d prefer to keep hidden was openly mocked. 

The Bad 

Since it is actually illegal to criticise Joanna Lumley, it can only be whispered, in criminal tones, that her opening monologue wasn’t actually very funny.  

And it must have been a drag for her to see Rebecca Ferguson turn up to present in an identical dress. However, Patsy from Ab Fab even managed to make every woman’s nightmare a nice moment; ‘we’re dressed like twins because we’re the same age,’ she purred, making light of the 37 year gap to dispel any awkwardness. 

The Ceremony 

The Good

It was shorter than the interminable Oscars. 

Sam Rockwell was finally recognised and on taking the best supporting actor award humbly noted that he had been a ‘journeyman actor’ throughout his career so this acknowledgement was great. 

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 18: Martin McDonagh (L), Pete Czernin (2ndL) and Graham Broadbent (R), winners of the Outstanding British Film award, Sam Rockwell, winnerof the Best Supporting Actor award and Frances McDormand, winner of the Best Actress award pose in the press room during the EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) held at Royal Albert Hall on February 18, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

Gary Oldman finally beat out his much awarded contemporary Daniel Day Lewis when he took the best lead actor prize. Both men came to fame at about the same time and were pitted against each other in the media as the posh, public school educated son of the poet laureate versus the ‘sarf London’ council estate boy whose sister appears in Eastenders. Both have had incredible careers but there’s no doubt that DDL with his 3 Oscars and numerous other awards has needed a bigger mantelpiece over the years. This win now surely sets Oldman up for the Oscar. 

Frances Mc Dormand for being, well, Frances McDormand. There’s something that happens to talented actresses once they reach a certain age – they become funny, largely because they no longer give any f**** and say exactly what they please. And in McDormand’s case, wear what they want too. Her rather hideous dress would normally come under bad but the fact she wore pink in the face of demands that all the women wear black in some pointless gesture of support for Times Up makes her best dressed ….because as a woman she should be able to wear whatever colour she damn well chooses.  

Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri winning the most awards including best film (and best British film). That may not be seen as good by fans of The Shape of Water and other contenders but, hey this is my article and 3 Billboards is my choice! 

Sir Ridley Scott’s rambling, brilliant, inspiring speech. It’s astonishing this trailblazer of cinema hasn’t won more awards in his incredible career. Even at this ceremony he didn’t win a competitive award but the coveted BAFTA fellowship. 

The Bad

The funereal look of the red carpet with all that enforced black. No matter how much people may want it to be otherwise, a large part of any film awards audience watches for the fashion and glamour. Ratings for awards ceremonies are decreasing dramatically each year as it is, putting people off with politics doesn’t help. There must be other more effective ways of raising awareness of  good causes than demanding that women dress as if they are in perpetual mourning. 

The Ugly 

Social media commentary on the awards. The attacks by mostly women on Kate Middleton for not wearing black were awful and missed the whole point of causes such as Times up. Awards season has also become a time when people who can’t produce a coherent tweet seek to attack ‘white men’ many of whom have produced the greatest work in cinema simply for being men and for being white. 

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 18: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) held at Royal Albert Hall on February 18, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson – WPA Pool/Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

This topic probably deserves an article in its own right but for now one observation will suffice: Bigotry is bigotry, no matter how many likes you get for it. 

Politics. Again this is another topic which deserves its own article, but the relentless politicisation of film awards shows in the past few years is sucking the fun and entertainment out of them. The BAFTA’s, thankfully, have a lighter touch on the subject than the American shows but even so, the films and achievements of talented people are being overshadowed by the politics. Dwindling television audiences are a testament to how this is not a good move for the industry in the long term.

The Beauty?  

For all its faults it’s still the most magical way to spend a couple of hours in the dark – in a public place.

 

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

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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

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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

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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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