The Oscar race between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity heated up today with wins in major categories at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) ceremonies at London’s Royal Opera House. The BAFTAs have become a solid predictor of success for Academy Awards.
The British Academy and its American counterpart, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which puts on the Oscars, typically announce their nominations and award their winners within a week of each other. This year’s timing makes it more likely that BAFTA wins will influence Academy Awards results. The 2014 Academy Awards ceremony was delayed until after the Winter Olympics and will be held on March 2. The voting for the Academy Awards just began on Friday and will not end until Feb. 25. So, unless they cast a ballot immediately, those voting are will be aware of the BAFTA wins before making their selections. Additionally, there is an overlap of about 500 members in the voting between the two academies.
The space disaster movie, Gravity, won six awards in London, including Best Director for Alfonso Cuarón. The film had the most nominations going into the event. It won Best British Film, a category the British Academy uses to recognize films made in England. The American film, which featured a Mexican director and American cast, was shot and its special effects developed in the United Kingdom.
The unflinching portrayal of slavery, 12 Years a Slave, was named Best Film. The movie, 12 Years a Slave, is now a favorite in the race for the Best Picture Oscar after beating Gravity among others at the BAFTA event. The movie also garnered a Lead Actor award for Chiwetel Elijofor, who likewise is expected to win in Hollywood.
The lead actress award today went to Cate Blanchett for her role in Blue Jasmine. The supporting acting honors were to Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle and Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips.
Other categories spread the wealth around. Gravity was also awarded BAFTAs for sound, cinematography and original music. The Great Gatsby picked up awards for best production design and best costume design. Rush, about Niki Lauda and James Hunt’s Formula 1 racing rivalry, won the best editing award. American Hustle, with all its sideburns and 1970s coiffures, won for best make-up and hair as well as best original screenplay. Best adapted screenplay honors went to Philomena, which was taken from the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith.
One highlight of the night was the BAFTA’s highest award, a fellowship, given to Dame Helen Mirren. Mirren won the Oscar and BAFTA lead actress statues for 2006’s The Queen, in which she portrayed Queen Elizabeth II. So, when Prince William handed her the award, he quipped that he probably should call her granny.
The BAFTA’s used to be more low key than the Oscars, not widely televised or promoted. Now, they are firmly ensconced on the awards season calendar.
Last year, the BAFTA’s awarded lined up with later Oscar winners in several categories, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. The differences were that the Brits named Ben Affleck as Best Director for Argo, which he wasn’t nominated for in the U.S., and the Best Actress award went to Amour’s Emanuella Riva, who lost in the Oscar race to Silver Lining Playbook’s Jennifer Lawrence. On March 2, everyone will know if this year’s honorees line up and if Gravity or 12 Years a Slave turned their race lead into a top Oscar after their BAFTA wins.
By Dyanne Weiss