This Sunday, the 71st BAFTA awards for Film will take place, marking the last major stop on the Awards Tour train before the Oscars at the beginning of March, whereupon this whole endless goddamn slog of an Awards Season will finally come to an end. Objectively, this is the weirdest Awards Season line-up in years – with only one true slice of Oscar Bait (Darkest Hour), and the next closest being a Christopher Nolan movie and a film featuring prominent fishman fucking – but with the ceaseless, uniform, and seemingly ever-lengthening trudge towards the Oscars having gone on since early December, it’s hard to work up the excitement about it all. After all, “oh my God, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is an awards frontrunner somehow!” loses its shock when the same thing happens at EVERY awards ceremony over four endless months.
Still, though, we’re almost there, and I’m here to sort through the good, the bad, and the BAFTA of this year’s nominations list. In a slightly expedited version to the previous 4 years that I’ve been doing this – WHAT EVEN IS TIME ANYMORE – I’ll be running down the major categories and giving you my fool-proof predictions along with some slid-in commentary. And these are predictions that you can take to the bank given that I have a record of 25-12 in correct predictions over the years!* So let’s get on with it!
*Set the Tape nor Callum Petch are liable if you lose money following his not-fool-proof predictions.
Best Animated Film
Who Will Win: “The Disney/Pixar Award,” folks. Last year, it went to Kubo and the Two Strings in a major upset, which might lead some to think that we are finally going to see some variety in award winners. But, whilst I would be all for that, that hope ignores the fact that last year the nominee list grew to 4 entries purely to include both of the Disney films released that year (Moana and Zootopia) and Kubo almost definitely won as a consequence of that splitting of the vote. Don’t fully rule out Loving Vincent – it is one of those once-in-a-lifetime technical achievements that BAFTA loves rewarding (see also: Boyhood for Best Film in 2015), and surprises can happen – but this is Coco’s to lose because “The Disney/Pixar Award.”
Outstanding British Film
Who Will Win: Well you can throw out everything except Three Billboards and Darkest Hour, for starters, since those two are up for Best Film and it would look mighty stupid if they were upstaged here by God’s Own Country or the like, wouldn’t it? Things, however, get trickier after that. Yes, Three Billboards is still the film to beat for Best Picture, in spite of the ever-growing criticism and backlash – the constant invocation of Crash as a comparator by those leading the backlash may prove to be its doom come Oscar time, but BAFTA have gotten Best Picture “wrong” for three straight years now, and this year may be no different – but I have a weird feeling that they may go completely doolally and hand this to Darkest Hour as a consolation prize whilst giving Three Billboards Best Film. Why the hell not, right? It’s not like their nominations make logical sense as is, and Britain for some reason adores Noted Awful Human Being, Winston Churchill, so why not throw out all conventional wisdom and give it to Darkest Hour in order to make me lose my mind?
…nah, they’re just going to give it to Three Billboards. Gonna still yell about calling it if it does go to Darkest Hour, though!
Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Get Out (Jordan Peele), I, Tonya (Steven Rogers), Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig), The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)
Who Will Win: This one’s tricky, because both Get Out and Lady Bird have been shafted in terms of nominations despite their status as The Film Fans’ Choices, and that means that they are both due consolation prizes, which normally come in the Screenplay category. Except that, as you know, they are both competing against each other and, as you may not know, BAFTA doesn’t honour by that unspoken code that often – remember how Moonlight lost out on all four of its nominations last year, despite us prognosticators being insistent that it had to take home something, including losing one to Lion of all goddamn films? So, what I am basically saying is be ready for Martin McDonagh to take home this statue despite his screenplay being a complete mess. If it ain’t Three Billboards, it will almost definitely be Lady Bird, but I don’t see Lady Bird or Get Out leaving with anything on the night, so prepare your angry tweets accordingly.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: Call Me by Your Name (James Ivory), Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (Matt Greenhalgh), Molly’s Game (Aaron Sorkin), Paddington 2 (Paul King and Simon Farnaby), The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci and Ian Martin and David Schneider)
Who Will Win: I mean, there is every chance that this could go to Paddington 2 – of all the categories I’ve predicted on over the years, this is the one I’ve most often been tripped up by, largely down to my forever underestimating the Weinstein influence (there’s something that now feels incredibly icky to type) – but it’s going to go to Call Me by Your Name. What else could they give it to? Molly’s Game? Maybe if the award was Most Screenplay.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Willem Dafoe as Bobby Hicks (The Florida Project), Hugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan (Paddington 2), Woody Harrelson as Chief Willoughby (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty (All the Money in the World), Sam Rockwell as Officer Dixon (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Who Will Win: Everybody loves Sam Rockwell, he is one of our finest character actors, and the acting guilds have been waiting forever for him to go and appear in something even vaguely “respectable” that gives him an actual character to play instead of coasting on his fountains of charisma so that they can give him trophies. He’s going over, with the only potential snag being that Three Billboards (for some reason) has two representatives here that could split the vote. Should that occur, it’s Christopher Plummer’s, but it’s unlikely to. I’ll see you back here again next year when Rockwell turns up as George W. Bush in a Dick Cheney biopic written and directed by Adam McKay and doesn’t everything about that sentence already sound perfect to you?
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Allison Janney as LaVona Golden (I, Tonya), Lesley Manville as Cyril Woodcock (Phantom Thread), Laurie Metcalf as Marion McPherson (Lady Bird), Kristin Scott-Thomas as Clementine Churchill (Darkest Hour), Octavia Spencer as Zelda Fuller (The Shape of Water)
Who Will Win: Allison Janney is currently on what I have dubbed “The J.K. Simmons Tour” and she is a lock for it here. Certain other sources would have you believe that Lesley Manville could upset everyone thanks to hometown pride but, whilst not without merit, I highly doubt that will happen. Janney, just like Simmons, is basically a saint in the world of character acting, her role is a scenery-chewing display of pure venom that goes completely against how we normally see her, she gets the film’s best lines and upstages the up-and-coming star for whom this is supposed to be their showcase… Holy shit, I, Tonya really is just a less-great version of Whiplash…
Nominees: Jamie Bell as Peter Turner (Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool), Timothée Chalamet as Elio Perlman (Call Me by Your Name), Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock (Phantom Thread), Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington (Get Out), Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill (Darkest Hour)
Who Will Win: Gary Oldman for his terrible turn as Fat Bastard in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Now, look, Gary Oldman chews scenery. It’s what he does. You hire Gary Oldman, he is almost definitely going to give you the kind of enjoyably hammy “I don’t give a fuck” performance that I like to call The Gary Oldman Special. But here, buried beneath terrible prosthetics, the “IDGAF” that typifies great (terrible) Oldman performances has been replaced by way too much tangible effort, the kind designed to court awards bodies by showing them just how much the actor in question is ACTING. All bluster and blubber and yelling, so much goddamn yelling… It’s not just Oscar Bait, it’s incredibly boring and even actively annoying to watch, and anybody with sense would laugh it out of the room. Unfortunately, awards bodies adore that shit, and Oldman has been “due” ever since The Artist robbed him in 2011, so apparently it’s time. Sigh.
Nominees: Annette Benning as Gloria Grahame (Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool), Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito (The Shape of Water), Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding (I, Tonya), Saoirse Ronan as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Lady Bird)
Who Will Win: All season long, it’s been a fight between Hawkins and McDormand, with the two trading the honours at various ceremonies; McDormand taking the televised ones, Hawkins taking the more specialist critic-focussed prizes. And Hawkins does have the home field advantage, especially since I have a feeling that BAFTA have been kicking themselves ever since they gave Jennifer Lawrence’s abysmal turn in American Hustle Best Supporting Actress over Hawkins’ in Blue Jasmine back in 2014 and have just been gagging for a chance to right that wrong. That said, I’m still calling it for McDormand, because she has the momentum and Mildred is the showier role at the right social time. I’m honestly fine with either taking it, but it’s most likely going to be McDormand.
Nominees: Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name), Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049)
Who Will Win: del Toro has been hoovering up long-overdue and completely deserved statues for his work on Shape of Water all season long, and I don’t see that coming to a halt on Sunday. Nolan isn’t going to upset because his style is too clinical and detached, and he is forever destined to be one of those directors who just never gets recognised by awards bodies. If anybody pulls off the upset it’ll be McDonagh for Three Billboards, but that will only happen if they are planning on giving Shape of Water Best Film, and will also be accompanied by justifiable riots in the streets.
Nominees: Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Who Will Win: They’re not going to give it to Call Me by Your Name because the buzz has died for that. They’re not going to give it to Dunkirk because it’s too emotionally cold for Academy sensibilities. They’re not going to give it to The Shape of Water because of the fishman fucking. And they are not going to give it to Darkest Hour because they are not complete and total fucking idiots. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is going to win the top prize because nothing else makes sense according to the BAFTA metric. It may not take home top prize at the Oscars (because the BAFTAs and the Oscars haven’t lined up on Best Film honours for the past 3 years), but it is going over here, sans the mother of all surprises should the fishman fucking not hobble Shape of Water. Or maybe Jordan Peele running on-stage, clobbering the Three Billboards producers from behind, and cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase to steal the title out from everyone’s collective nose.
Please let that last one happen.