With 5 victories at last night’s British Academy Film Awards, The Revenant put some distance between it and its rivals in the Best Picture race, making the survival epic the firm favourite to take home the top prize at the Academy Awards in less than 2 weeks time. The Revenant took home Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Cinematography, and Best Sound, proving its strengths across the different branches, showing a lot more strength than its closest Best Picture rivals, Spotlight and The Big Short, which both took home 1 award.
While The Revenant’s victory in Best Film, as well as its victory in Best Director, can be considered an I.O.U. from BAFTA voters for Alejandro G. Inarritu, who lost in all 3 categories that he was nominated for last year for Birdman (for which he won 3 Oscars), it does show that the film has a transatlantic appeal, that it wasn’t a fluke that it won the Directors Guild of America Award, as well as sweeping the Golden Globes. If you consider that Inarritu is a likely winner of Best Director, as well as Leonardo DiCaprio being a lock for Best Actor, and Emmanuel Lubezki looking very strong in Best Cinematography, then surely Best Picture is all wrapped up, with the film completing the triple win in the major categories on multiple occasions, something that even Birdman couldn’t do in its path to glory last year.
In the acting categories, the results were somewhat straightforward. Leonardo DiCaprio continues to ease his way to a first Best Actor Oscar win as he won his first BAFTA for The Revenant, and, while absent from the ceremony, Brie Larson looks equally as strong in Best Actress, winning again for her tour-de-force performance in Room. Meanwhile, in the Supporting categories, there was a bit of a change of pace, which was mainly due to the frontrunners not being nominated, with Sylvester Stallone missing out for Creed due to the poor distribution of screeners to BAFTA voters, and Alicia Vikander missing out as she was rightly pushed up into lead for The Danish Girl. This meant that their rivals could capatalise, and they did. In Supporting Actor, there was a first major victory of the season for the absent British thespian Mark Rylance, who won for his subtle performance in Bridge of Spies, and in Supporting Actress, Kate Winslet followed up her Golden Globe win by winning here for her role in Steve Jobs, leaving her in prime position to possibly cause an upset on Vikander, though Vikander’s SAG win suggests that Winslet is still behind in that race.
In the screenplay categories, there was a consolation prize for two of the runner-ups in Best Film, as Spotlight and The Big Short followed up their WGA Award wins by winning in Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay, respectively. In Best British Film, the Best Picture-nominated Irish film Brooklyn took top honours, while the EE Rising Star Award, which is voted for by the public, went to London-born actor John Boyega, who had a breakout year following his starring role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which also won Best Special Visual Effects, beating out tough competition, such as Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Martian. While Star Wars’ victory in Visual Effects was a surprise, the shock of the night was, by far, Naji Abu Nowar’s win over Alex Garland’s work on Ex Machina, for his directorial role in the Oscar-nominated Jordanian film Theeb. This was even more surprising when Theeb didn’t win Best Film Not in the English Language, as that went to Argentina’s Wild Tales, which was nominated at last year’s Oscars, and was considered the least likely of the contenders to win.
In the technical categories, action blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road showed strength and dominance, winning 4 of its 7 nominations, including a jaw dropping upset to win Best Costume Design over the more prestigious Cinderella and Carol. That being said, it did lose in a couple of categories where it was expected to fare better, including in Best Sound, making its attempt at winning both Sound Editing and Mixing at the Oscars less likely, and the aforementioned loss to Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Visual Effects, which, along with losing at VES Awards, makes it unlikely to win the Oscar. That being said, its victory in Editing against strong competition makes the case for it being a “Lovely Day” for Mad Max on February 28th.
That being said, its starting to look like The Revenant that will be stealing the headlines come the Monday morning after the Oscars, as another massive win against its closest rivals shows that it is truly the one to beat.