2012 BAFTA Awards Nominations opinion

The nominations for the 2012 BAFTA Awards have been announced. They are, once again, bolder than their American equivalents, particularly from a British point-of-view. The obvious, predictable and largely justified headlines highlight the year’s highest profile awards contenders and surefire winners - The Artist, The Descendansts, and Meryl Streep with the addition of the whole lotta love shown for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But delving a little deeper there is more of interest to uncover.

The Brits do seem more comfortable with uncomfortable material than the Yanks and Drive is quite well represented, still a small surprise for a film that isn’t typical awards fodder. It has just three nominations, but they include Best Film and Best Director.

We Need to Talk About Kevin also gets three nods (only three?), for director and actress (two awards that I believe the film absolutely should, but won’t, win) and also for Outstanding British Film. The logic of the latter is baffling, though, as it is for all but one of the films in the super-strong category (that doesn’t even have room for Kill List). Tinker Tailor is the only film to be nominated both for Best British and outright Best Film, you see, so how do its challengers in Best British stand a chance when the industry voters have already suggested Tinker is better than them all with that very best Best Film nomination? Well, the thing is, they do stand a chance as British films have won the Best Film category whilst failing to win the British category, as nonsensical as that is. So if, when the Devil goes ice-skating, Tinker wins Best Film, Kevin can still walk away with best of British.

Staying on these shores, Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer surely has to be between Richard Ayoade (Submarine) and Paddy Consadine (Tyrannosaur) although Senna could be a sleeper at this year’s awards, if the voters feel like making a statement. Speaking of which, why do Best Documentary (to be won by Senna) and Animated Film (to be won by Rango) only deserve three nominations?

Film Not In The English Language isn’t especially adventurous. A Separation is to foreign language categories what The Artist is to best film categories in its likelihood of winning everything it is nominated for. It’s nice to see Incendies nominated (even though it was included in most award ceremonies’ lists last year) and Potiche is wildly out of place. Wim Wenders’ Pina and Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In are the rather obvious, relatively high-profile films that round out the category.

The smart money for the screenplay categories is on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or The Descendants (Adapted Screenplay) and either The Artist or Midnight in Paris (Original Screenplay). I think Woody Allen is getting so much attention for this because he happens to be Woody Allen. Likewise, Moneyball doesn’t stand on its own as a great script and its profile is helped in no small part by the fact that it is co-written by the much-celebrated Aaron Sorkin. Including The Guard in here is a tad crazy and The Ides of March, although by no means bad, is hardly writing worthy of a “Best” tag, either. I would actually go along with many others and, if the choice was mine, hand the awards to The Descendants and The Artist although, if I was in an awkward mood, I might go with Bridesmaids just to spice things up a little.

Elsewhere, Brits Gary Oldman (Tinker) and Michael Fassbender (Shame) are nominated for Best Actor and although George Clooney (Descendants) is laying claim to the accolade this year, will the Baftas opt for one of the two stronger performances from home grown talent? Its nephew, the Supporting Actor category, is one of the weakest (not just at the Baftas) with Christopher Plummer, for Beginners, the firm favourite. Like some of the screenwriters, that smells a little of industry recognition for an often overlooked darling rather than recognition for an especially outstanding performance. But then there isn’t particularly strong competition and I can’t for the life of me figure out why Kenneth Branagh is lauded so highly so widely for My Week With Marilyn. It’s a small miracle Jonah Hill is nominated for Moneyball but if it was up to me I would hand the golden mask straight to him. That’s right - the kid from all of those zany gross-out comedies. I mean it.

Ryan Gosling, Melancholia, Carnage, and The Tree of Life (even for cinematography?!) snubs aside, in general, the Baftas have settled on a well-rounded selection of films that is more interesting and apparently meritocratic than some of the other big awards ceremonies.

17th Jan 2012