Even for those at Imperial who aren’t particularly interested in film, the presence of the 2018 Baftas was difficult to miss. For one thing, the evening was hosted at the Royal Albert Hall, allowing some students and staff the chance to engage in some star-spotting (insert pun about Blackett astro group here), but annoying countless others by blocking off a large portion of Prince Consort Road, adding valuable seconds to coffee-run times.
But for those of us who are interested in film, the Baftas proved an annoyance in a slightly different way: it was, quite simply, monumentally dull. Widely acknowledged as the last hurdle to pass on the long road to the Academy Awards, which are given out next weekend, the Baftas provide films, directors, actors, and screenwriters one last chance at success. While in the vast majority of years the Oscar frontrunners are set in stone by this point, the Baftas have been known to provide some upset in recent years – for example, last year, when Dev Patel pipped Mahershala Ali to the Bafta for Best Supporting Actor.
What happened this year, however, cements this award season as one of the most predictable in recent years. This is particularly true of the acting categories – Frances McDormand, Gary Oldman, Allison Janney, and Sam Rockwell have won their respective categories in the Critics’ Choice Awards, Screen Actors Guild awards, Golden Globes, and Baftas, meaning their success at the Academy Awards is all but assured.
“This year’s Baftas cement the award season as one of the most predictable in recent years”
Similarly Best Director seems to be a lock for Guillermo del Toro, who was recognised for his fantasy The Shape of Water at the Baftas, and Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is set to win Best Original Screenplay. Call Me by Your Name, one of the best films of the past year, will have to settle for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars – given James Ivory’s Bafta win this week, the prediction seems assured, but it’s a disappointing haul.
The only major category that seems to provide the possibility of upset is Best Film, and even then it’s only being contested between del Toro’s The Shape of Water and McDonagh’s Three Billboards. While the fact the Academy has moved away from awarding Best Director and Best Film to the same work means it could be Three Billboard ’s year, the growing backlash to how McDonagh has taken a sledgehammer to the tricky subject of police brutality and institutional racism means The Shape of Water could take it.
Nevertheless, it’s sad that works like Call Me by Your Name, Phantom Thread, and Lady Bird will likely fall by the wayside.
The Baftas did provide us with one joyous award: Park Chan-Wook’s exceptional film The Handmaiden took home Best Film Not in the English Language. While The Handmaiden was locked out of the Oscar race – South Korea didn’t even choose it as their entry – Park will have to console himself with winning last year’s Felix Film awards.
All we can hope for now is the wrong name to be read out of the envelopes at the ceremony on the March 4th, although I hear they haven’t invited Faye Dunaway back…