The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) held its 68th annual films awards evening today in London’s Opera House. The BAFTAs have traditionally foreshadowed the Academy Awards’ winners in the U.S. So, based on the winners today the big theory in Hollywood must be that there will be no major winner when the Oscars are presented in two weeks. Instead, The Theory of Everything and Boyhood will win most of the big prizes, with The Grand Budapest Hotel taking home several of the creativity awards, based on the BAFTA results today and Oscars picks undoubtedly being set.
While several of the films had multiple nominations, no one film dominated the evening. Boyhood won the BAFTAs for Film and Director Richard Linklater. The Theory of Everything won the Outstanding British Film prize as well as adapted screenplay. The Grand Budapest Hotel took home statuettes for original screenplay, production design, original music, make-up and hair, and costume design. Whiplash was honored for its editing and sound. Intersteller received the award for special visual effects and Birdman was honored for cinematography.
Acting awards are often heavy on transformative roles that depict personal struggles (and, as Ricky Gervais so famously quipped, “Holocaust films.”) Today’s acting award recipients recognized onscreen struggles to deal with physical ailments and echoed the choices honored in Los Angeles at the SAG Awards. So, given than both SAG and BAFTA heavily overlap in voters, the Oscars should follow suit.
The Theory of Everything’s star, Eddie Redmayne, received the Leading Actor prize for his physically demanding depiction of physicist Stephen Hawking and his struggle to succeed and live in spite of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease). Julianne Moore was named the Leading Actress for her moving portrayal in Still Alice of a woman facing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and trying to hang on. Patricia Arquette was named Supporting Actress for her 12-year-long performance as the mom in Boyhood. The Supporting Actor nod went to J.K. Simmons for Whiplash, where he played a brutally demanding music teacher.
The big departure from the Oscars was in the Animated Film category. The Lego Movie won the top honor for animation at the BAFTAs and was not even nominated for an Academy Award. “You are our favorite Academy by far,” the directors cheekily told the London audience when they got their award. “You guys win the award for best academy,” they added, noting that the BAFTAs were “the end of the awards road for us, so we can say whatever we want. There’s no one left to impress.”
One award that the British give out, but the American Academy does not is for the year’s Rising Star. This year’s honoree was Jack O’Connell, who starred in Unbroken.
For years, many outside of Hollywood did not pay any attention to the British awards. But both the BAFTAs and Oscars changed their timing and the result was an increased emphasis on the BAFTAs as an Oscar precursor. There are notable differences in the honorees, which in England do slightly favor their own. However, in the past decade, well over half of the winners for Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture have overlapped.
The BAFTA results for The Theory of Everything and Boyhood have set the stage and wagering for Oscar picks. The Academy Awards in the U.S. will be given out on Feb. 22.
By Dyanne Weiss