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5 Short Term Memories From BAFTA

Other than wondering as usual how the British Film Academy fit into this awards season shenanigans, and wondering who selects the combinations of presenters and big beat music, the show went pretty much as planned I suspect. There were a few minor blemishes, like Stephen Fry calling the Boyhood mother Rosanna Arquette, and later redeeming himself by introducing Tom Fucking Cruise. Not to mention a truly tear-worthy tribute to Richard Attenborough by Robert Downy Jr. While I digest the rest of the show, here are five elements of tonight’s BAFTAs that stood out for me:

I Have To Be Offline During The Awards Show

So whatever rules or regulations mean that here in the UK I cannot watch the British Academy Awards show live, simply need to be revised, and changed. The red carpet coverage was on the BAFTA website (and other broadcasts no doubt), which was great. We had the option to switch cams, and could tune in for the entire two hour duration. All good and fine, but then the coverage ends, meaning waiting another two hours, for the edited two hour BBC version. Edited, that’s right, they cram the awards they feel are not worthy enough for that chosen slot (Music, Costume Design, Documentary, etc) into the final two minute segment. A bit of an insult. The main concern is that with the vast array of online instant coverage at your immediate disposal, I have to make that decision to check the results as they come in (via Twitter for example), or wait to see the winners announced while watching on the TV.

Ida Was Never Going To Lose

The Best Foreign Language win for Ida appeared to be a popular win. Director Paweł Pawlikowski mentioned in his speech (after humbly introducing his fellow production team) that he had won BAFTAs before, “and now I won for Best Foreigner”. Indeed Pawlikowski has an acclaimed reputation in the UK for his BAFTA wins for Last Resort and My Summer of Love, and Ida was a truly all-Polish affair, venturing back to his national country. Arguably the best foreign language film of the year anyway, Ida had the weight of the Polish director’s huge likeability, and is well respected here in Britain. To add, Pawlikowski sadly pulled out of making a movie eight years ago when his wife passed away.

The Boyhood / Birdman Oscar Split Is Still Possible

The seesaw ride that has been Boyhood and Birdman this awards season has not once really settled. It is fair to say that Boyhood looked to be the number one choice for the most part, but Birdman was never far behind (when not leading itself). Of late the momentum has swung in Birdman’s favor with the Producers Guild and Directors Guild wins (as well as Screen Actors Guild Ensemble). In fact, some were throwing in the towel and saying that was that. Tonight’s BAFTA wins for Film and Director for Boyhood, adding to that the Best Actor prize not going to Michael Keaton, means Richard Linklater’s film is still hanging in there. We both movies looking so strong heading into the Oscars, it would be no surprise to see yet another Picture / Director split.

The Director’s Guild Of America Beats BAFTA

It did not take long to figure out that BAFTA Best Director nominees Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), and Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel) were nowhere to be seen at the British ceremony. When Ralph Fiennes was asked to accept Anderson’s Original Screenplay award on his behalf, the director’s note added humor to his change in mood at winning this award when losing the Director’s Guild (to Inarritu) less than twenty-four hours earlier all the way back in Los Angeles. A similar message came across when Ethan Hawke accepted Linklater’s BAFTA Director prize. “Rick’ll be pissed that he could be here for this” Hawke quipped, especially as the Boyhood director was heavily fancied to take DGA. Do two such influential and important gold hand-outs have to be within a day off each other? And does this make the Director’s Guild of America more integral than the British Film Academy?

BAFTA Fellowship To Mike Leigh – About Fucking Time
The final award of the BAFTA ceremony is usually the respectful bestowing of the Fellowship Award, an honor that is considered a huge deal. Two things occurred to me as Imelda Staunton and Sally Hawkins started talking about the wonderful career of Mike Leigh. One, how ironic the British Academy choose Leigh the same year they under-nominate his highly-praised Mr. Turner (nothing in the major categories as perhaps expected). And two, about fucking time BAFTA. I mean, this is Mike Leigh, the creator of Bleak Moments, Life Is Sweet, Topsy-Turvy, Vera Drake, Secrets & Lies, Naked, Happy-Go-Lucky. The list goes on. A remarkable man and artist indeed. As usual, he was blackly funny in his speech, accepting BAFTA have a certain taste in respect of just the four nominations for Mr. Turner. And he was also poignant in his former producer, the late, great Simon Channing Williams.


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