British Academy Film Awards 2016- A Viewing Companion

This year’s Best Film nominees: The Revenant, The Big Short, Spotlight, Carol, and Bridge of Spies.

While certainly nowhere near the most prestigious or the best awards ceremony out there, the British Academy Film Awards still manage to capture the imagination of the general public, whether they care about awards season or not. This is mainly because, in the UK at least, it is the only film awards show that is shown live on freeview television, with it airing on BBC One on Sunday night at 9pm GMT (the Oscars are the only other film awards shown on UK TV, on Sky Movies at 1am GMT). This means that the British public, no matter their prior knowledge of this year’s awards season, will be tuning in, so I thought I’d help all the novice viewers out there in understanding the race, and what to expect in each category (I’m going by last year’s ordering). Enjoy!

The Red Carpet– If you want to see the glamour before the ceremony, check out the BBC News Channel from 5pm GMT, where you’ll find some cold celebrities awkwardly chatting and avoiding questions about whether they have written an acceptance speech, or their chances of winning as a whole. If you want to save yourself some time, they’ll show a short montage of this at the start of the show.

The Start of the Show– Usually, the show will begin with a popular British musical act performing one of their songs, accompanied by a montage of this year’s nominees, and a lot of cutting to some unimpressed celebrities in the audience. Last year it was the underwhelming Kasabian, the year before it was the over-enthusiastic Tinie Tempah. This year’s act hasn’t been revealed yet, but whoever it is, it is the ideal time for a toilet break.

The Opening Monologue– Joy, oh joy, Stephen Fry is back as host- AGAIN. Expect ‘gags’ about the lack of diversity amongst Oscar nominees, a reference to the bear from The Revenant, and some other blabbering of posh twaddle filling 10 minutes. *YAWN*.

Outstanding British Film– One of the better categories of the night, the Best British Film is notable as the BAFTAs are the only major awards show to have the category, so the result doesn’t really matter in the long run. The nominees this year are: the chilly marital drama 45 Years; the musical documentary Amy; the Best Picture-nominated Irish romance Brooklyn; the transgender drama The Danish Girl; the sci-fi thriller Ex Machina; and the surreal comedy The Lobster. Expect Brooklyn to win here, but don’t be surprised by an Ex Machina or The Danish Girl upset, as they feared pretty well in the nominations.

Best Visual Effects– One of only a couple of technical categories on the telecast, Best Visual Effects is very important in determining the destination of the Oscar winner in this category. We have nominated here: the Marvel superhero comedy Ant-Man; the British sci-fi thriller Ex Machina; the action blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road; the adventure epic The Revenant; and the sci-fi blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With the visual effects being shot in the UK, Star Wars has to be the favourite, but Mad Max could take it, as could The Revenant, in an attempted sweep.

Best Supporting Actor- What’s interesting about this category is that the Oscar favourite, Sylvester Stallone for Creed, isn’t nominated. This leaves 3 Oscar nominees that are trying to improve their odds ahead of the Oscars, and 2 that missed out at the Oscars, to get the last silverware that they can get this season. The nominees are Christian Bale for The Big Short (looking for his first BAFTA win), Benicio Del Toro for Sicario (his only major nod this season), Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation (trying to capitalize on the diversity controversy), Mark Ruffalo for Spotlight (his 2nd consecutive nomination in this category), and Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies (the clear frontrunner). Expect a Rylance win here, and, if he turns up, he will almost certainly read a poem. Don’t be surprised by an Elba upset, even though most of the voters probably haven’t watched Beasts of No Nation, judging by Abraham Attah’s snub in Best Actor.

Oustanding British Contribution to Cinema- I’m not sure who they’re are honouring this year, but expect a long montage, and a long-winded speech. An ideal time for a toilet break.

Best Supporting Actress– Like Best Supporting Actor, the Oscar frontrunner isn’t nominated here, with Alicia Vikander being pushed up to lead (and rightfully so) for The Danish Girl. This means an opportunity for her rivals to pick up some steam, though it could just as easily go to Vikander for a different role, as she is nominated for her performance as the robot Ava in Ex Machina. She’s nominated along with Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight, the category frauding Rooney Mara for Carol, Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs, and Julie Walters, for her 2-minute cameo in Brooklyn. My money is on Mara, as BAFTA clearly love Carol, but Winslet could get a home crowd advantage.

Best Cinematography- The second technical category on the telecast is pretty much a done deal, as Emmanuel Lubezki is likely to win his 3rd consecutive BAFTA here for his work in The Revenant. The other losing films will be Bridge of Spies Carol, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Sicario.

Outstanding Debut by a British Director/Producer/Writer- Yeah, this is going to be Alex Garland for Ex Machina. Release an audible gasp if debbie Tucker Green for Second Coming, Naji Abu Nowar and Rupert Lloyd for Theeb, Sean McAllister and Elhum Shakerifar for A Syrian Love Story, or Stephen Fingleton for A Survivalist end up winning, as more people have probably watched Ex Machina than all the other films combined.

Tribute– Last year they did a tribute for Sir Richard Attenborough at this point. Expect a similar tribute for Alan Rickman this year, accompanied by a montage.

Best Original Screenplay- This is actually a really good line-up, but a predictable one at that. The nominees are Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina, The Hateful Eight, Inside Out, and Spotlight. Spotlight will win, and frankly, it needs to to have any chance of winning Best Film.

Best Film Not in the English Language- I have honestly have no idea what is winning here because a) 3 of these should have been in last year’s race, b) only one of these has an Oscar nomination this year, while 2 got one last year, and c) I haven’t seen any of them due to poor UK distribution. I’m going for The Assassin, as it has only just come out, but it could easily be any of the others; Timbuktu, Wild Tales, Force Majeure, or Theeb.

Best Adapted Screenplay- Talk about a category that could go anywhere; any of the nominees would be worthy winners, and the competition is incredibly strong. We have nominated: The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, Room, and Steve Jobs. On paper, it should be the frontrunner The Big Short, but I have a sneaky suspicion it’ll be Carol, for Phyllis Nagy’s subtle screenplay, ahead of the brash and sharp nature of Adam McKay and Charles Randolph’s The Big Short screenplay, as well as BAFTA winner Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs speedy screenplay.

In Memoriam- Another montage now, celebrating the lives of those who have passed away since the last ceremony. Let’s hope they don’t miss out anyone this year, especially after snubbing Bob Hoskins last year.

Rising Star Award- I broke down this category after the nominees were announced, so check out that article if you get the chance. I’m sticking with my same prediction: John Boyega, but I’m very close to switching to Taron Egerton. My thinking is that more people have seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens than the other films, so, as it is a public vote, the Brit Boyega has the advantage, though Egerton is in pole position for an upset. The other nominees are Brie Larson (my pick), Bel Powley (probably the deserving winner), and Dakota Johnson (could get public support).

Best Director- When the nominees were first released, I thought that Sir Ridley Scott was a lock to win for The Martian, but as the season has gone on, it looks more and more likely that this is Alejandro G. Inarritu’s to lose, especially following victory at DGA and the Golden Globes. He, of course, lost here 3 times last year, to Boyhood, Richard Linklater, and Wes Anderson, respectively, leaving him with no BAFTAs and an I.O.U. Adam McKay, Todd Haynes, and veteran Steven Spielberg are also nominated, as this category only matches with the Oscars 2 out of 5.

Best Actor- The true lock of the night: Leonardo DiCaprio is going to win. There are three reasons for this: 1. He’s never won a BAFTA Award; 2. He’s the only one of the nominees that is in a film nominated in Best Film; and 3. He’s won every award thus far, and is a lock to win the Oscar. Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Michael Fassbender, and last year’s winner Eddie Redmayne complete the underwhelming list of nominees. Release an audible gasp if anyone other than Leo prevails.

Best Actress- While there is certainly an argument to be made about the other nominees, it looks like Brie Larson is going to continue her winning streak for her emotional performance in Room. Saoirse Ronan fits the Carey Mulligan-in-An Education mold to win, but the lack of Best Film nomination for Brooklyn hurts her. Double BAFTA winner Cate Blanchett is also nominated, as is British acting legend Maggie Smith, and Alicia Vikander, who will likely win an Oscar for the same role in the Supporting category, even though she’s correctly categorised here as a lead.

Best Film- Now we come to the big one, a category that could decide the Oscar for Best Picture. All three Best Picture frontrunners are nominated: SAG Ensemble winner Spotlight; DGA winner The Revenant; and PGA winner The Big Short. They’ll battle it out along with outsiders Carol and Bridge of Spies for the top prize. As of now, my money is on The Revenant, but who knows? Whatever happens, be on the edge of your seat: it’s going to be tight!

BAFTA Fellowship- After our hearts have regained normal pace, and we know the major award winners, it’s time for the BAFTA Fellowship, where the British Academy will honour the great, Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier, mainly as recognition for still being alive. Still, he’s one of the all-time greats, and deserves to be honoured.

Closing Monologue- Hooray! No more Stephen Fry! Hopefully he doesn’t screw up the closing monologue and lets us get on with the categories that are less important than Fry’s annoying musings.


Best Original Music- As this probably won’t be on the main telecast, I’m going for an Ennio Morricone win for The Hateful Eight, ahead of the people’s choice: John Williams for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Sicario, The Revenant, and Bridge of Spies are also nominated.

Best Documentary- Lock it up, it’s going to be Amy, which is also nominated in Best British Film. Fellow Oscar nominee Cartel Land is nominated, as is He Named Me Malala, Sherpa, and Listen to Me Marlon, in an underwhelming list that should have The Look of Silence in it.

Best Makeup and Hair- I think Mad Max: Fury Road’s makeup and hair achievement is too great for it to lose here, even against tough competition like The Revenant, The Danish Girl, Brooklyn, and Carol. It’s a far stronger list than the Oscars, that didn’t even have the last 3 on their 7 film shortlist.

Best Production Design- In what is a pretty risky pick, I’m going for Bridge of Spies to sneak it ahead of Mad Max: Fury Road. I’m not sure why, it’s just a hunch. The other nominees are Carol, The Danish Girl, and The Martian.

Best British Short Film- I have no idea, I’ll guess Elephant.

Best British Short Animation- No clue, let’s go for the Oscar-nominated Prologue.

Best Editing– This is my ‘No Guts No Glory’ pick, as I’m going for The Revenant ahead of ACE Eddie winners Mad Max: Fury Road and The Big Short, mainly because I think it’s winning Best Film. If it’s either of the other 2, don’t be shocked. Bridge of Spies and The Martian are also nominated.

Best Sound- Easy, the loudest movie wins: it’ll be Mad Max: Fury Road. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Revenant, The Martian, and Bridge of Spies are also in contention.

Best Animated Film- And the show ends with the lockiest of all the locks: Inside Out will win comfortably. I’d love for Shaun the Sheep to throw a spanner in the works, but it’s not going to happen. Minions is also nominated.

THAT’S A WRAP! That was fun. I hope you enjoyed reading this, and enjoyed the show. Now we have the Oscars to look forward to on the 28th (or very early 29th in the UK), and the best awards show of all, the Independent Spirit Awards, on the 27th. Yippee!

The British Academy Film Awards, hosted by Stephen Fry, will be on BBC One on Sunday 14th February 2016 at 9pm GMT.


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