Behind the screens

'The Baftas, Boftas and Naftas are good pointers to Oscars night. Of course, a film that wins a Golden Haggis at Edinburgh has no chance'
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The Independent Online

As the film awards season hots up, I am bringing you an advice service to answer every conceivable question you might want to ask about it all.

As the film awards season hots up, I am bringing you an advice service to answer every conceivable question you might want to ask about it all.

Which film award ceremony is coming up next?

The Baftas.

What is Bafta short for?

Bafta is short for "British Oscar Forecast and Trend Awards". The only function of the Baftas, you see, is to give people pointers to who is going win Oscars.

But Bafta is not short for "British Oscar Forecast and Trend Awards". If that were the reason, they would be called Boftas.

You're absolutely right. Maybe it's really short for "British/American Film Tips Agency". Which doesn't alter the fact that the main function of the Baftas is to point to the way the Oscars might go.

What is Oscar short for?

It's not short for anything. They are Academy Awards, and they can't call them AAs because Alcoholics Anonymous would sue.

Have Alcoholics Anonymous ever sued anyone?

Sure. They do it all the time.

Do they? I have never heard of it happening.

That's because they do it anonymously.

Oh... If the Baftas are pointers towards the Oscars, what are the Golden Globe awards? I remember being told when they were announced that they were a very good pointer towards who the Oscar winners will be.

They are. All awards are very good pointers towards who will win the Oscars. There are awards all round Europe that we never read about, like the Naftas and the Saftas...

Naftas and Saftas?

Norwegian and Spanish academies. All very good pointers. Of course, in the case of some awards, they are very good pointers to who will not win Oscars.

How do you mean?

If you have a film that wins some-thing like the Golden Lion at Antibes or the Palme d'Or at Le Touquet or even the Golden Haggis at Edinburgh, there is a strong chance that the people in Hollywood will make a little mark in their diaries against that film.

What will the little mark say?

It will say, "EFW – NO".

What does that mean?

It means "European Festival Winner – No Oscar".

Good heavens. Don't they like European films in Hollywood?

Not much. Not unless they are French comedies that they can reshoot as American comedies starring Robin Williams or Steve Martin. The ultimate tribute Hollywood can pay to European films is to remove all trace of anything European from them.

And will they then get Oscars?

No. Comedies never get Oscars. In the year Some Like It Hot was eligible for the Oscars, it got nothing. Ben-Hur got everything.

Why do comedies not get Oscars?

Because Oscars go to films with redemptive qualities.

What are films with redemptive qualities?

Films in which flawed characters redeem themselves by the end of the film, allowing glorious music to sound loudly through the cinema.

You mean, films with happy endings?

Yes, broadly.

And special effects?

Well, there are special awards for things like that. As movie-making gets more and more sophisticated, new awards have to be created to reward that technology.

Do award categories ever get dropped?

Sure. They have not awarded an Oscar for Best Caption Writing In Any Silent Movie since 1932.

So, who is going to get all the Oscars this year? Which film will we switch on our TV to see being honoured?

Oh, for heaven's sake, people don't switch on the Oscars to learn the results! They switch on to see what the stars are wearing, how terrible their speeches are, who is going break down in tears, who is going to make the worst jokes and wear the worst dresses...

So what is the point of the Baftas then?

It allows us to see what the stars are wearing at the Bafta ceremony, thus giving us good pointers to what sort of garments they will be wearing at the Oscars...

Coming soon: a couturier gives his forecasts for the best costumes on Oscars night.

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