On Sunday evening our friends across the pond hosted the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards ceremony, the British equivalent to the Academy Awards and also the last precursor to who might be taking home an Oscar on March 2.
Both “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” were big BAFTA winners. “Gravity” won a splendid six awards including best director and best British film, as well as cinematography, sound and best original music.
It won’t be much of a surprise if Alfonso Cuarón also wins best director at the Oscars. He not only won the BAFTA for best director, but also won the Best Director in a Feature Film at the Director’s Guild Awards and Golden Globes. With his innovative directing technique and the magnitude that “Gravity” carries on screen, the BAFTA proved to be the final nail in the coffin of anyone else seeking the Academy Award for Best Director.
“12 Years a Slave” was the winner of best film in 2014 and Chiwetel Ejiofor won best leading actor for his performance in the film. The haunting portrayal of 19th century American slavery is sure to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, despite the heavy competition for the award.
Director Steve McQueen accepted Sunday’s award with a touching yet disturbing statement, “There are 21 million people in slavery now as we sit here. I just hope that 150 years from now our ambivalence will not allow another film-maker to make this film.”
The big question is who will win the Oscar for best actor in a leading role? Will Leonardo DiCaprio finally win an Academy Award for his performance in “The Wolf of Wall Street” or will he fall short once again? He did win a Golden Globe in the comedy category for the role, but Ejiofor poses a substantial threat for his chances for the Oscar.
Matthew McConaughey, also a Golden Globe winner, should not be counted out in considering for grand prize come Oscar season. His startling performance in “Dallas Buyers Club” was haunting, touching and provided the Academy Award voters a political message they could rally behind.
Cate Blanchett won the BAFTA for best actress in a leading role for her performance in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.” Blanchett is a shoe-in for the Oscar, seeing as she also won the SAG award and Golden Globe for her performance. Yet, the underdog performances of Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock and Amy Adams should not be discounted. As Streep has done time and time again with her magnificent performances she could easily take the win in this category.
Perhaps the one to look out for the most, however, is Sandra Bullock’s tour de force performance in “Gravity.” While there is no doubting Blanchett’s front runner status for the Oscar, Bullock proves a singular and powerful force as the only actress in “Gravity” and could easily prove to be an upsetting force for Blanchett.
The BAFTA and biggest applause of the night went to Barkhad Abdi, playing the Somali pirate in “Captain Phillips,” for supporting actor. Abdi’s premiere performance provided “Captain Phillips” with an anchor antagonist to Tom Hanks’s dynamic protagonist. Abdi’s, a Somali-American, debut role earning an him a BAFTA is sure to give audiences plenty to cheer for come Oscar season.
Though Abdi was the winner at the BAFTAs, Jared Leto, from “Dallas Buyers Club,” won the title of supporting actor at both Golden Globes and SAG awards. Thus, Abdi may have to wait for another film in order to win the Academy Award as Leto’s performance was truly stunning. Although it would be a great surprise if the once “Super Bad” star Jonah Hill wins for his performance in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” it’s highly unlikely. Needless to say, Jonah Hill’s ability to avoid typecasting and his amazing professional development are arguably more important than any award he could potentially win.
If supporting actress Lupita Nyong’o from “12 Years a Slave” doesn’t win the Oscar, it’s a sure bet that “American Hustle” actress Jennifer Lawrence will. Lawrence won the prize at Sundays BAFTAs and at the Golden Globes, but Nyong’o won the award at the SAG. Nyong’o's performance may upset the cult of Lawrence that seems to be buzzing around Hollywood and the rest of country, but her limited screen time in “American Hustle” should put Jennifer Lawrence out of the race.
Disney’s popular film “Frozen” took home the BAFTA for animated film and most likely will win the Oscar. Disney’s track record for winning the award is substantial and with Frozen’s abundant popularity and appeal, it’s easy to count on this one for winning the Academy Award. A dark horse in the race is Hayao Miyazaki’s film, “The Wind Rises.” It would harken back to 2002, when Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” won the Oscar for Best Animated Picture.
As for best original screenplay, the BAFTA went to “American Hustle” in a competition missing Spike Jonze’s “Her.” While “American Hustle” is certainly a deserving film of the award, there are few who hold it in contention for the Oscar compared to Jonze’s film. “Her” took home the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, beating out “American Hustle” and setting itself up for an Academy Award victory.
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