2017-02-16 / Features

Hello From Hollywood

Brtish Academy Winners Get Royal Treatment at 2017 Ceremony
J. Roberts

Last weekend, BAFTA, the British version of the Academy Awards, announced its selections for cinema’s best, further cementing frontrunner status in many categories at the upcoming 89th Oscars ceremony.  With a considerable overlap in nominees and 500-plus members belonging to both academies, many Oscar nominees should feel a little less pressure approaching the finish line (the countdown to the Oscars is 10 days) since the BAFTAs have often been a reliable indicator of how the Academy Awards will play out as the countdown to the Oscars is 10 days on February 26th.

As expected, La La Land grabbed the biggest haul at the star-studded ceremony at London’s Prince Albert Hall, also attended by Prince William and his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.  The film about a struggling musician and an aspiring actress navigating love and career in the City of Angels nabbed 5 prizes including Best Picture, Best Director (Damien Chazelle), Best Actress (Emma Stone), Best Cinematography (Linus Sandgren) and Best Score (Justin Hurwitz).  While it was no sweep – the film had 11 nominations going into the ceremony – the BAFTA wins help the film’s momentum as Oscar voters begin to vote today.  La La Land’s scribe, Chazelle, came up noticeably empty-handed in the original screenplay category; Manchester by the Sea’s Kenneth Longeran (who also directed the film) took the prize.   The two writers will duke it out this weekend at the Writers Guild Awards, the last major award ceremony before the Oscars.  While Stone has won a Golden Globe and SAG award, her BAFTA competition did not include Isabelle Huppert (Elle).  Stone’s British win gives her a boost against Huppert, her biggest challenge at the Oscars.  Both are in the Best Actress race with Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie) and Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins).

Casey Affleck returned to his winning streak with a BAFTA victory, taking Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea after losing at the SAG Awards to Denzel Washington (Fences), who was not BAFTA nominated, but is Oscar nominated.   Viola Davis has been unbeatable this awards season, also winning at BAFTA and now on a clear path to Oscar glory as best supporting actress in Fences.  In an upset, the British Academy awarded London-born Dev Patel as best supporting actor for Lion over frontrunner Mahershala Ail (Moonlight) whose only major awards-season victory was at SAG.  For adapted screenplay, Lion’s Luke Davies prevailed, but frontrunner Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins (screenplay by) and Tarell Alvin McCraey (story by) were not in the running across the Pond.  The two films face off at the Oscars, but only Moonlight received a WGA nod.

In the technical categories, BAFTA voters spread the wealth by awarding costume design to Jackie, editing to Hacksaw Ridge, make-up & hair to Florence Foster Jenkins, production design to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, sound to Arrival and special visual effects to The Jungle Book. There is no best song category.  Finally, Best Animated Film went to Kubo and the Two Strings over favorite Zootopia.

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