Yesterday, on 12 February 2017, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) presented its 70th British Academy Film Awards. Hosted in the Royal Albert Hall in London, the ceremony was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and presented by a comedian and actor Stephen Fry (“V for Vendetta” (2005)). The ceremony was particularly impressive this year, with the great British humour all around, and a fierce high film competition, which, although could have been even more diverse, was, nevertheless, inclusive of so many great foreign productions. Here, I will comment on the Best Picture, Actor/Actress, Supporting Actor/Actress, Foreign-Language Film, Documentary and Animation Award winners.
Best Picture – Winner: La La Land
Other nominees: “Arrival“, “I, Daniel Blake“, “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight“.
Well, well, well…little to say here, isn’t it? “La La Land” is again the winner, now here. For the moment I wondered if they’d give this Award to British “I, Daniel Blake”, because the film is so politically and culturally significant to the UK. But no, the British Academy did not supposedly have any qualms in not awarding “I, Daniel Blake” this Award, because they gave it the so-called “Outstanding British Film Award”. As for “La La Land”, it dominates the domestic and international festivals to such an extent that I already want some other film to be recognised. If only there weren’t any “La La Land” last year, I wonder how many other films would have got their Best Picture wins across the globe? The film is also a favourite to win at the Academy Awards ceremony too, and I wonder if its production crew already feel dizzy from all the publicity? Incidentally, Justin Hurwitz also wins here for his original score – a right decision since his score for “La La Land” is the best of the year; and Damien Chazelle also wins here for directing the movie.
Best Actor – Winner: Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea“)
Part of me wanted Garfield or even Mortensen to win, but I knew that Affleck was going to be the winner. Probably, rightly so. I do not know if I am overly happy with Gyllenhaal’s nomination, but it comes as a surprise to me that Denzel Washington (“Fences”) was not even nominated in this category.
Best Actress – Winner: Emma Stone (“La La Land“)
Other nominees: Amy Adams (“Arrival“), Natalie Portman (“Jackie“), Meryl Streep (“Florence Foster Jenkins“) and Emily Blunt (“The Girl on the Train“).
I am a little bit surprised by Stone’s win, and feel sympathy for Amy Adams. Adams has been unjustly ignored by the Academy this year for her performance in “Arrival”, and I somehow hoped that she might be able to win here. I also think that, at the very least, Portman’s performance in “Jackie” was better than Stone’s. Isabelle Huppert never had a chance to be nominated in this category, because French “Elle” had a late release in the UK.
Best Supporting Actress – Winner: Viola Davis (“Fences“)
Other nominees: Michelle Williams (“Manchester by the Sea“), Nicole Kidman (“Lion“), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight“) and Hayley Squires (“I, Daniel Blake“).
Although I liked the performance of Williams in “Manchester by the Sea”, I think it is fair that Viola Davis gets this Award. Her performance in “Fences” was unbelievable: so true, so raw, so real. Magnificent. Since I saw her performance in “The Help” (2011), I have been a fan. She is one of my favourites to win at the Academy Awards 2017.
Best Supporting Actor – Winner: Dev Patel (“Lion“)
Other nominees: Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight“), Hugh Grant (“Florence Foster Jenkins“), Jeff Bridges (“Hell or High Water“) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Nocturnal Animals“).
I feel particularly bad for Hugh Grant. I feel that since the Academy Awards ignored his outstanding performance in “Florence Foster Jenkins”, perhaps the British Academy will somehow distinguish him. Considering all, I do not believe that Dev Patel was really a better supporting actor of all the nominees. He is a British actor and belongs to a minority. He gets the Award. *Case closed*. I also feel that Grant’s win at the BAFTA ceremony would have meant a lot to him and to others, and not even because he is quintessentially British, but because, knowing his acting history, he is unlikely anymore to be cast in many “big” high-quality production films with such leading “supporting” roles as that he got in “Florence Foster Jenkins”. British Taylor-Johnson was also ignored by the Academy, but that guy has a whole career in front of him still, and he did win the Golden Globe.
Best Foreign-Language Film – Winner: Son of Saul
Other nominees: “Dheepan”, “Julieta”, “Mustang” and “Toni Erdmann”.
Due to the UK’s late releases of some foreign-language films, we have here some films which are strictly-speaking of the year 2015. In that vein, I am pleased to see “Mustang” being nominated here, and Almodovar’s “Julieta” being recognised. Irrespective of the odd release dates, I still think “Son of Saul” was the best film of 2015, but not of the previous one. In my opinion, the best foreign-language film of 2016 from those listed was “Toni Erdmann”.
Best Documentary – Winner: 13th
Other nominees: “Weiner“, “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – the Touring Years“, “The Eagle Huntress” and “Notes on Blindness“.
First of all, I am so happy for “Weiner”‘s nomination in this category, because this documentary is a well-made one and touches on an important societal issue. The fact that the Academy Awards in the US decided not to nominate it – is beyond belief. I am also happy with the documentary “13th” winning the BAFTA Award. The British Academy could have easily picked the Beatles documentary or “Notes on Blindness” and justified their choices, but it is evident that “13th” was really the best of the year.
Best Animation – Winner: Kubo and the Two Strings
Other nominees: “Moana“, “Zootopia” and “Finding Dory“.
Part of me wanted to see among the nominees such animations as “Your Name” and “The Red Turtle”, but I guess these have (have had) very late releases in the UK. I am at least happy that “Finding Dory” is there among the nominees. The audience seems to like this animation more than the critics do. “Kubo and the Two Strings” also deserved to win given the representation.