With the awards calendar a jingle jangle this year, Oscar nominations voting is trickling to a close on Wednesday, March 10. Most ballots are already in, so the impact of this week’s guild and BAFTA nominations (which clue us in to how a few hundred overlapping Academy members are leaning) is diminished, in any case. Also, BAFTA’s new inclusion-minded juries voting on the member-and-jury generated BAFTA shortlists in the acting and directing categories make the BAFTAs less predictive, while thankfully avoiding last year’s dreaded #BAFTASoWhite.
The BAFTAs always favor homegrown talent, so there’s a bit of UK bias thrown in, which accounts for strong showings for Best Film nominees “The Father” and “Promising Young Woman,” with six bids apiece, “The Mauritanian,” with five, and “News of the World,” with four craft nods. It’s unlikely that local indie fare like “Rocks” or “His House” are going to suddenly pop up on Oscar nominations morning.
Historically, about two-thirds of BAFTA contenders also reap Oscar bids. Last year, Brit Sam Mendes’ “1917” took home Best Film and Director, while Americans Renee Zellweger, Brad Pitt, Laura Dern, and Joaquin Phoenix all rehearsed their eventual Oscar speeches, along with Adapted Screenplay winner Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit”) and Original Screenplay and Foreign-Language winner Bong Joon Ho. “1917” lost the Best Picture and Director Oscars to Bong.
So what does it all mean for Oscars 2021? At the BAFTAs, Oscar-eligible Americans who landed Best Film (“Nomadland” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7”), Best Director (Lee Isaac Chung and Chloé Zhao), and acting slots (Frances McDormand, Chadwick Boseman, Dominique Fishback, Leslie Odom Jr., and Paul Raci) are strong Oscar contenders indeed.
Golden Globe and Critics Choice award-winner “Nomadland” scored seven BAFTA nominations, including Best Film, Zhao for Best Director and Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actress (McDormand). While the movie did not land a SAG Ensemble nomination (given its cast of non-pros), it did make the PGA and DGA nomination lists. Zhao is the favorite to win the Best Director Oscar, among other things.
Another strong American Oscar contender is SAG Ensemble, DGA, and PGA contender Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari,” which nabbed six BAFTA slots, including Director, Supporting Actor (diminutive CCA winner Alan Kim), and foreign-language film (it is not eligible for International Oscar consideration). DGA and PGA contender David Fincher’s “Mank” landed five craft nods and Original Screenplay but missed Director, Actor for Gary Oldman, and Best Film. SAG, DGA, PGA, and WGA contender Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7″ scored three nods including Best Film, Original Screenplay, and Score, but missed Director and any acting nods. And PGA and SAG Ensemble contender “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” took three BAFTA slots for Best Actor frontrunner Chadwick Boseman, plus Costume and Makeup and Hair, categories that should all repeat at the Oscars.
And there’s enormous momentum for late-breaking “Judas and the Black Messiah,” which stars Londoner Daniel Kaluuya, who could sweep all the major awards, including the Oscars. The question is how much farther the movie goes. Shaka King and his co-writers did land WGA and PGA nods, but no SAG Ensemble or DGA. A Best Picture Oscar slot is in their sights.
Clearly on the rise is PGA, WGA, and DGA nominee Emerald Fennell’s “Promising Young Woman,” which is hugely popular on both sides of the pond, even without a Fennell BAFTA Director slot or presumed BAFTA Best Actress favorite Carey Mulligan. (Her reps must not be very happy with BAFTA, which granted her Netflix movie “The Dig” five nods.) While Mulligan still has a shot at winning at the SAG Awards on April 4 (where “Promising Young Woman” did not score Best Ensemble), she misses the potential for a winner’s momentum at the BAFTA Awards on April 11, four days ahead of the start of Oscar voting.
Also getting a lift in the Oscar race is “Another Round,” which swept the European Film Awards and is a strong contender for Best International Feature Film at the Oscars. It’s unlikely that writer-director Thomas Vinterberg, writer Tobias Lindholm, or global movie star Mads Mikkelsen will sneak into the Oscar nominations otherwise, but with an expanded European voting bloc, why not? Its biggest competition in the International Oscar race is another multiple BAFTA nominee, “Quo Vadis, Aida?” from top Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanic, which is gaining ground.
And what about Golden-Globe winning comedy “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”? The movie landed WGA and PGA nominations, but the film could be the tenth-ranked in the race for the Best Picture Oscar. And BAFTA Supporting Actress nominee Maria Bakalova is steady as she goes, having lost the Globe but winning the CCA. Up next is SAG, where both Bakalova and Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”) are nominated in supporting categories.
Clearly losing ground over time is Netflix’s June 2020 release “Da 5 Bloods,” which landed a coveted SAG Ensemble spot but did not manage PGA, WGA, or DGA slots. British actor Clarke Peters scored a BAFTA Supporting Actor nod, but not Boseman, nor did British-born Delroy Lindo get recognition for Best Actor. What’s the issue with the critically-hailed Spike Lee movie? He’s coming off an Oscar win for Adapted Screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman,” and landed a DGA nod for TV movie “American Utopia.” It’s possible that the Vietnam War movie is old news, too violent for some, too narratively daring for others.
And “One Night in Miami” is hard to read as well: director Regina King and writer Kemp Powers’ ‘60s true story of four African-American icons landed SAG Ensemble, WGA, PGA, and Costume Designers Guild nods, as well as the DGA’s first-time director nomination. (First-timer Fennell landed the main DGA nod.) But it feels like Globe, CCA, SAG, and the film’s only BAFTA nominee (Odom) is the main attraction. And he could wind up winning the Oscar, as he did at the Globes, for Best Song.