Wednesday, February 21, 2018

BAFTAs so beige.

So, the BAFTAs were on Sunday, and such were the uninspired, bland, going with the crowd wins, that I really didn't feel motivated to do a debrief post, because it would consist almost entirely of me whining (and, as Jennifer Lawrence's essay on how underpaid she was for American Hustle demonstrates, complaining is never a good look).

But, some time has elapsed (to quote Frozen, 'it's funny how some distance, makes everything seem small'), thus, I will share my thoughts on the ceremony and what it means for the Oscar race (spoiler alert: nothing. We've become predictors rather than influencers).

I was ecstatic for Brit Daniel Kaluuya, who won the Rising Star Award. This prize is voted for by the British public and essentially weathervane of who the audience likes best. Given that cinemagoers are the people who make film stars who they are, it's not a bad prize to win.

Two previous recipients of this award, John Boyega and Will Poulter, both Londoners, played Americans in last year's Detroit, a transatlantic casting choice which also applies to Danny, who convincingly played an American in Get Out.

The Johnny English 2 and Skins actor clearly appreciated this feather in his cap. His speech was fabulous, thanking his mother and acting coach, and graciously free from all the tedious political sermonising I'd endured at the Golden Globe ceremony. (#TimesUp? More like #TimesUpOnTheseHypocriticalRantsfromHollyweirdCelebritiesWhoAllKnewAboutHarveyWeinsteinBeingACreepAndSaidNothingButAreNowConvenientlyJumpingOntheBandwagon). And he kept it real to his London roots, saying 'levels' quite a few times. Hero!

I was delighted that Park Chan-wook's steamy heist film Handmaiden won Best Foreign Film, as it was my second favourite movie of 2016. I was also glad Dunkirk won Best Sound, as this gives me hope that Dunkirk will walk away with at least one award at the Oscars. And the sound design on that film was marvellous, so it thoroughly deserves it.

Dunkirk only won one poxy BAFTA, whilst Three Billboards won five. In what universe?!

Sadly, my fears that Baby Driver, the cinematic equivalent of a child with ADHD (car chases! Songs! Car chases! Kevin Spacey explaining what tinnitus is! Eiza González being nutty and waving a gun about! Car chases! Ansel Elgort and Lily James singing to each other! Car chases! Fam, that's not a film, that's a compendium of MTV music video footage) would steal Dunkirk's Editing BAFTA were realised. So basic.

In Baby Driver, I could detect pretty much every cut, that’s how in your face it was. I really don’t think it’s Best Editing if the editor is so flashy about it? That would be Most Editing. Dunkirk gripped me in the first minute and didn’t let go for the film’s entire 100 minute running time. That’s effective editing. Yet, because of BAFTA’s sellout actions, there’s now a very good chance Baby Driver takes the Best Editing Oscar.

Thus, Sound was the only award Dunkirk won. All of the big prizes basically went how people expect the Oscars to go, so, rather than acknowledge Christopher Nolan’s technical mastery and visceral immersive storytelling, we just tried to play ‘predict the Oscars’. Nolan, never one to hide his discontent at awards shows, looked hella pissed when he lost Best Director to Guillermo del Toro, and I don’t blame him.

You're supposed to pretend to be happy for the person who beat you when you lose. Christopher Nolan, who has been snubbed all awards season, wasn't having any of that.

Nolan was not the only Brit that BAFTA screwed on Sunday. Lesley Manville was the picture of compelling iciness as Daniel Day-Lewis’ on-screen steely sister in Phantom Thread. Yet BAFTA went with Allison Janney in a cartoonish, Mommie Dearest role in I, Tonya.

Sally Hawkins was utterly endearing as Elisa in The Shape of Water and the film’s emotional anchor. Without her, TSOW would have descended into ‘human f_cking a fishman’ farce. Personally, I think she is the film's MVP, rather than the director. But, as with Janney’s win, BAFTA copied the SAGs, Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice identically in terms of acting wins, and awarded Frances McDormand.

McDormand’s win was symptomatic of a Three Billboards... lovefest, with the film also taking Best Film, Best British Film, Supporting Actor and Original Screenplay. It certainly wasn’t a bad film, but on closer examination, had some questionable morals (it seems to suggest vigilantism is the answer if the police aren’t pulling their weight) and contained some excruciatingly bad dialogue (Abbie Cornish waxing lyrical about Woody Harrelson’s character’s cock, WTF?), which renders that Screenplay win extremely contentious, especially over Jordan Peele’s razor-sharp satire in Get Out.

Perhaps the satire was a little too sharp, and held a mirror against BAFTA's (predominantly male and white) voters more than they'd care to admit.

One guy wore Adidas trainers to the BAFTAs. This was about as exciting as the ceremony got.

Still, I liked Three Billboards… more than I liked Blah Blah Bland, which won 5 BAFTAs last year, so I guess that’s the closest thing I can call to progress.

Overall, I was left very deflated after watching, but, having followed film awards for years, I’ve learnt to temper my expectations.

And three standout moments of the night filled me with glee and meant watching the BAFTAs on TV wasn’t a complete waste of two hours:

Timothée, Danny K and Daniel Day-Lewis all gave stunning performances. So of course BAFTA awarded Best Actor to Gary Oldman hamming in a fatsuit.

1) The adoring look Timothée Chalamet gave Daniel Kaluuya during Danny’s speech. There was no shade at all from Tim Tam that he lost the Rising Star award (the same can’t be said of his Interstellar director, seriously, Nolan’s sour losing face is a thing to behold), and you could tell he was genuinely pleased for Dan. It’s always lovely when friendships are formed on the campaign trail, and Danny and Tim Tam are both two of the youngest men to receive a Best Actor nomination, so it makes sense that they’d form an affinity.

2) Presenter Joanna Lumley referring to Margot Robbie as 'my niece', an elite reference to The Wolf of Wall Street. Even if I am still hella pressed we nominated Margot over Isabelle fricking Huppert for best Actress, I do like references to my favourite films. And how perfect was Lumley for the role of 'Aunt Emma'?

Salma Hayek looked like a queen, as did my French queen Isabelle Huppert. Izzie was wearing black nails, very Jessica Chastain in Miss Sloane!

3) Salma Hayek, in announcing Best Actor, said, ‘And the BAFTA goes to… Frances McDormand! Nah, just kidding’, which I thought was top notch repartee and a cheeky hat-tip to last year’s Oscar blunder, which we all know is jointly the blame of that oafish PWC guy who was too busy taking pictures of Emma Stone to look at his envelope, and Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, who were too vain to wear glasses.

So beige were BAFTAs choices for wins, that an envelope mix-up moment during the ceremony certainly couldn’t have made things any worse.

Emma's prediction percentage: 12/22, 54.5%, pretty rubbish. But, in my defence, everything that happened was either my first or second guess (apart from Best Film, lol), so it shows I'm decent at narrowing down the winners to two, less good at guessing the right one, haha!

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