Awards season travels across the seas on Sunday 10 February for its annual stop at our very own British Academy Film Awards – otherwise known as the Baftas. It’s an opportunity to reward homegrown talent, certainly, but the ceremony also serves as the last set of prizes before the Oscars themselves.
It’s the final pit stop, confirming all the frontrunners and possible dark horses. At this year’s Baftas, The Favourite takes the lead with 12 nominations, as Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma trails behind with seven – not that having the numbers on your side is any guarantee of victory on the night.
In that light, here are our predictions of who will win in each of the major categories, alongside our own take on who’s the most deserving of each award.
Will win: The Favourite
Should win: Roma
This awards season has been an odd and unpredictable force. What initially started out as a two-horse race between Roma and A Star is Born has seen the latter fall into bizarre disfavour with voting bodies. Roma is now ahead of the pack but, when it comes to the Baftas, it faces one (likely insurmountable) obstacle: that British voters love to vote for British films.
Make way, The Favourite has entered the ring. It may have a Greek director in Yorgos Lanthimos, but the period piece received significant British funding, alongside being anchored by a British story (a love triangle between Queen Anne and two confidantes) and a largely British cast, including nominees Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz.
Conventional wisdom dictates that Bafta voters will fall for The Favourite’s combination of commanding performances, royal fashionings, and defiant eccentricity. Granted, it’s more avant-garde than the Baftas are used to, and there’s a real possibility that voters will play it safe and reward Peter Farrelly’s Green Book instead, but the film’s image of a national treasure like Colman decked out in all her queenly regalia seems almost impossible to resist.
If so, the film will be a deserving choice, despite the fact that 2019 really feels as if it belongs to Roma and the beauty of Cuarón’s storytelling.
Outstanding British Film
Will win: Bohemian Rhapsody
Should win: The Favourite
It was a PR disaster. A day after voting closed, the Baftas announced that Bryan Singer’s nomination for Bohemian Rhapsody would be “suspended”, a fortnight after new allegations of sexual abuse of underage boys were published by The Atlantic. This move may well be damage limitation – it now seems likely that Bohemian Rhapsody has won Best British Film.
The damage is already done. If the film wins, there is no backtracking on the fact that voters were still happy to hand Singer a trophy, with no regard for the alleged victims. At the end of the day, it’s naive to think that award ceremonies are anything more than popularity contests, and the industry betrays a lot about itself when it continues to support an individual facing accusations as serious as Singer.
With The Favourite in a strong position to win Best Film, it’s unlikely that it would also scoop up Best British Film, as deserving as it may be. This did occur last year with Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri and in 2011 with The King’s Speech, but there’s not much of a precedent for it elsewhere. So if The Favourite does win in this category, expect Roma to be announced as Best Film.
Will win: Alfonso Cuarón
Should win: Alfonso Cuarón
It’s hard to see Yorgos Lanthimos having much of a chance here. He’s not fared particularly well on the awards circuit at large, missing out on nominations at both the Golden Globes and the Directors Guild Awards, and there’s a sense among voters that the film belongs more to its stars than to its director, however unfair that judgement may be.
This is Cuarón’s award to lose, taking into consideration not only his past performance, but how sophisticated Roma’s construction is, taking the intimate story of a maid in Mexico City in the 1970s and weaving it into a wider narrative of the country’s history.
Will win: Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Should win: Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Best Actress remains one of the most hotly contested categories of awards season. Glenn Close, Lady Gaga, and Olivia Colman have all been picking up trophies for their respective performances in The Wife, A Star is Born, and The Favourite – but this is the Baftas, after all, and Colman has the home turf advantage.
She is a national treasure to boot, and her work as Queen Anne in The Favourite, toying with the two courtiers vying for her affections, is possibly her best performance yet. The film’s script – which is also likely to win Best Screenplay – is an actor’s dream and a formidable showcase for all three of its stars, thanks to its heady mix of absurdism, grandeur, and tragedy.
It remains to be seen whether she has what it takes to beat out Glenn Close and Lady Gaga at the Academy Awards, but she’ll at least, hopefully, have something to celebrate when it comes to Bafta night. And you can guarantee the speech will be good too.
Will win: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Should win: Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Award voters can’t resist a performance based on a real person, with this year’s Best Actor race reduced to a head-to-head battle between Rami Malek’s impression of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody and Christian Bale’s impression of Dick Cheney in Vice. Mercury is obviously the more familiar of the two when it comes to British audiences, which may give the actor an advantage he won’t have when it comes to the Academy Awards themselves.
However, it’s a shame that Bradley Cooper’s layered, sensitive turn as an alcoholic country singer in A Star is Born has been so easily swept aside; his performance may not be as flashy, but it’s filled with small nuances that are lacking in this year’s other Best Actor nominees.
Best Supporting Actress
Will win: Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Should win: Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
It’s baffling not to see the Academy Award favourite, Regina King, in this list of nominees. Her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk, playing a mother fighting for her daughter’s happiness, is a work of masterful restraint. However, what that leaves is a clear opening for one of two performances from The Favourite to snatch up the crown.
It may be surprising to see both Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone pitched here as supporting roles, since the film is quite obviously a three-hander, but on this occasion, such blatant “category fraud” could actually pay off. It’s difficult to choose which of the two performances is the most deserving, but Weisz does come off the more natural winner, since she gets a few more meaty one-liners than Stone.
Best Supporting Actor
Will win: Richard E Grant
Should win: Richard E Grant
This is another category that’s come down to a two-horse race at the Oscars, with Mahershala Ali and Richard E Grant the top picks to win. Green Book’s strength lies in its two central performances and, if the Baftas decides to show it any favour, it seems inevitable that one of its two stars will also be rewarded. Mahershala Ali benefits from a less competitive category than his co-star Viggo Mortensen, who is nominated as lead actor.
He also gives the more memorable performance, despite having less screen time, playing a man determined to maintain his dignity in a world structured to strip him of it. However, Grant, once more, gets the home turf advantage. It’s wonderful news: his fragile but sparkling turn as raconteur and petty criminal Jack Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, a biopic about literary forger Lee Israel, would be a sublime choice.
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