The British Academy Film Award nominations have been announced and The Artist seems to have gained unstoppable Oscar momentum, leading the field with 12 nominations, including Best Film and Best Leading Actor and Actress nods for Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. Michel Hazanavicius’s near- silent black and white film looks set to capitalize on its success at the Golden Globes last Sunday.
It remains to be seen whether cerebral spy thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy can cause an upset, playing a close second to The Artist with 11 nominations. So far, various American film award ceremonies have turned a blind eye to Tinker Tailor… and its Oscar chances look slim to non- existent. But the fact that Tinker Tailor… is the only film nominated for both Best Film and Outstanding British Film means it seems likely that it is most likely to pick up the domestic gong.
The BAFTAs have forged a reputation in the awards season as being slightly cooler than its American counterparts by giving smaller, more idiosyncratic films a chance they wouldn’t be given at other award ceremonies. That has been highlighted this year with the decision to spurn the bucolic cosiness of Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, in favour of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive in the Best Film category. Elsewhere there were nods for We Need To Talk About Kevin, The Guard and the brilliant Senna, which was inexplicably left off the Oscars’ Best Documentary long-list.
One of the most interesting categories is Outstanding Debut where there are nominations for Attack The Block, Black Pond, Submarine and Tyrannosaur, all brilliant and otherwise absent from film award shortlists.
Despite this, you can’t help wishing that they would have been slightly more courageous: Martin Scorsese Best Director nomination for Hugo seems a bit of a cop out and acknowledgment of Brendan Gleeson’s bristling performance in The Guard would have been welcome. The exclusion of Olivia Coleman from the Best Leading Actress category for her exceptional turn in Tyrannosaur, on the other hand, is shameful.
The incredible success of The Artist seems to be partly down to master of the film awards game, Harvey Weinstein. He has great form in selling smaller, more sophisticated films to the academy, such as The King’s Speech last year and Shakespeare In Love in 1998, but if The Artist goes on to Oscar glory it would be an even greater achievement: what might have been a novelty curio could become the first silent film to win the Best Film Oscar since Wings in 1929.
Outside of the Artist, other dead certs include Meryl Streep, whose portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady has already picked up the Golden Globe for Best Leading Actress; George Clooney is likely to pick up Best Actor for his performance in The Descendents and The Help’s Octavia Spencer looks set to replicate her Golden Globe success by picking up the Best Supporting Actress statue.