OK, I admit it. I too was swayed by the by the biased media coverage in favour of The Constant Gardener in my BAFTA predictions. Listening to radio bulletins and reading newspaper stories it was easy to think that its ten nominations would count for something other than the 1 award it got for Best Editing. In particular, I thought that Rachel Weisz was a shoe-in for Best Actress but there is an important distinction between her BAFTA and Oscar nominations. Last night’s was for Best Actress whilst next month she is in the easier Best Supporting category. A win still looks likely for her there, although after last night chickens should not be counted.
In some ways I still think Reese Witherspoon was the more deserving recipient, but it is sad that a film as good as Fernando Meirelles’ adaptation of John Le Carre’s novel was not honoured more. Although I’m a huge Wallace and Gromit fan I’m perplexed that it trumped The Constant Gardener for Best British Film. Did voters ignore it in that category because they thought it would win Best Picture? But let’s not get carried away with the “British” disappointment. Previous years have seen BAFTA award clearly inferior British candidates for reasons that one can only assume amounted to little more than jingoistic backslapping.
Last year was a good one and one of the unfortunate side effects of having such a strong list of award contenders is that films and performances that would have been winners in past years will go unrewarded. Good Night, and Good Luck also suffered and you have to feel sorry for George Clooney. Having two nominations in the Best Supporting Actor category could well have split the vote. He deserved his gracious tribute from David Puttnam at the climax of the ceremony.
Speaking of which, it was refreshing to see the veteran producer of The Killing Fields and Midnight Express (perhaps his two finest films) acknowledge the good work going on now and admit that his pessimism seven years ago was misplaced. Although the director of the TV ceremony was obsessed with cutting away to a teary Thandie Newton, Puttnam’s speech was actually pretty moving and eloquent. Not only did his memories of his father and Ed Murrow have an incredibly serendipitous connection with his praise of Clooney but his quoting of a line from The Sixth Sense was as surprising as it was touching.
What did all of this mean for the Oscars? Brokeback still looks unstoppable in the Best Picture and Best Director categories. The great Philip Seymour Hoffman now looks certain to win Best Actor. Ditto Reese Witherspoon for Best Actress. Best Supporting Actor is tricky. I don’t think Jake Gyllennhaal is going to win despite his award last night. Instead it’s a three horse race between Clooney, Paul Giamatti and Matt Dillon. At the moment I favour Clooney but that could change. Best Supporting Actress should go to Weisz, although Michelle Williams can’t be ruled out. On a different note I hope Oscar voters have more sense than BAFTA did in awarding Memoirs of a Geisha a staggering three technical awards. The one it got for cinematography was perhaps the lowest point of the evening given the quality of the other candidates.
> Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian on the BAFTAs
> Pictures of the ceremony at BAFTA’s official site
> David Poland at The Hot Blog with his take
> Movie City News Oscar prediction chart (aka “Gurus of Gold”)
> Yahoo News on the winners and losers