When we look at the names up for Best Film at this year’s BAFTA awards what is evident and of particular interest is the absence of a clear favourite.
Last year The King’s Speech picked up an unusual amount of momentum and there was no huge surprise when the envelopes were opened and Messrs Firth and Hooper were called up on stage. You could argue that The Artist has impressed critics and audiences alike and will sweep the boards on the 12th of February but there are other films which you must catch up with before awards night.
Lining up in the Best Film category against Michel Hazanavicius’ silent charmfest we have four films which, though superficially disparate in many ways, have certain themes in common, plus they are all adaptations of celebrated novels. Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive was all but ignored by the American Academy is a long shot perhaps, but has gained a very strong following since its release and while it’s doubtful Refn will walk away with a statue next weekend the fact that it has this moment in the spotlight is encouraging for such a singular, and atypical, contender.
The Help benefited greatly from an excellent cast and Viola Davis has found a number of award nominations for her role as Aibileen Clark, stealing the show from other rising stars Jessica Chastain and the ever wonderful Emma Stone. It’s more likely to be her show if Tate Taylor’s film is to triumph at the awards, though she too has some very strong competition from Berenice Bejo, Meryl Streep’s Thatchergram and Tilda Swinton’s incendiary turn fronting We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Another film which has perhaps more awards traction for its leading performance in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants which has placed George Clooney front and centre for Best Actor award. He too has to fight the emissary from The Artist with Jean Dujardin being perhaps the one to beat. Payne’s film has done very well, and it’s good to see the director of Sideways working again after a seven year absence from the big screen.
Finally we come to the film which may steal the show, with Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Solder Spy up for eleven awards including Best Film, Outstanding British Film and Best Actor as well as a well deserved nod for Production Design and Best Adapted Screenplay. Unashamedly old fashioned in its approach to the spy thriller genre (thank goodness a modern retelling was never on the cards) the strength of the film’s direction has been slightly overshadowed by the towering performance of Gary Oldman however there’s a fair chance we’ll see Alfredson (and co-writer Peter Straughn) take to the stage on the 12th.
Whatever happens there’s still time to see the films before the event, and you may have noticed our Orange Film Pulse sidebar item which lists the nominated films and links to our reviews. Orange have been a long time ally of BAFTA and their Orange Wednesdays and FilmToGo campaigns are exactly the sort of thing to encourage more people to see films and discuss them online, something which no awards ceremony would be complete without.
So, what’s your opinion? Have you seen all of the films? Any you need to catch up with before the Awards ceremony? Shocks or surprises envisaged?
We’ll be there on the night to bring you all of the news and announcements as they happen. Get involved and join the debate. See you there.