E: Last night, the British Academy weighed in, giving us their picks for the year’s best performances and pictures, clearing up some races and muddying a few others. As much fun as Stephen Fry was as a host – and as much joy as I got from Helen Mirren’s sassy pink hair – BAFTA was a surprising frustration. Best Picture seems ever more certain; Best Actress was thrown back in doubt, Adapted Screenplay remains a puzzle, and Supporting Actor is as confusing as it ever was.
BAFTA awarded their Best Director and Best Picture awards to a jubilant, generous Ben Affleck for Argo. While I remain puzzled by the overwhelming support for this entertaining but imperfect film, I can absolutely understand the joy in rewarding the man himself. There’s something so charming and contagious and authentic about his response. Too many people either don’t emote or seem rehearsed, false in their gushing. Not so Ben! Without bouncing around the stage as he did for his screenplay win for Good Will Hunting, he’s so endearing with his humble talk of second chances and hard work and gratitude.
Based on the cheers of the crowd, I do have another candidate to propose to take Ben’s directing Oscar. Barring a write-in-campaign (which may not even be possible with the new online voting procedures), I’m now thinking it could go to Ang Lee for his beautiful Life of Pi, for filming an “unfilmable” philosophical novel and rendering it in spectacular, awe-inspiring 3D.
It was BAFTA that signaled the ascendance of Marion Cotillard a few years ago when she wrestled the lead actress Oscar from the luminous Julie Christie; it’s possible that their embrace of Christoph Waltz and Emmanuelle Riva could have Oscar repercussions. Does this mean our attention has been misdirected by the two young It Girls the whole time? I’ve been wondering about Emmanuelle Riva, and wow. Will the fact that she wasn’t at the ceremony make a difference? A good speech can always help a contender – look at Jamie Foxx and Roberto Benigni. Winning the BAFTA would have all but clinched the Oscar for Jennifer Lawrence. Actually, what I mean when I say that is that it would have shown us that the momentum is hers, that she’s on a clear winning trajectory. In a popularity contest, buzz and momentum can’t be discounted. So where does that leave us now? I’ll be darned if I know.
Tommy Lee Jones snagged the SAG, but SAG-AFTRA has a far larger voting base than the Academy – a fluctuation of a few thousand votes might not mean much in SAG, but it’s everything for Oscar. Waltz now has both the Golden Globe and the BAFTA. But how much does that mean? Does the Academy like Tarantino as much as the Globes and BAFTA do? Both bodies awarded his original script, which shows you his popularity; all three bodies nominated him for writing and directing the same three movies – Django, Inglourious Basterds and Pulp Fiction, with the exception of his directing snub at this year’s Oscar nods. Does that mean that the Academy is less sweet on Django, or on Tarantino himself? Or maybe its just a crazy year. Either way, I think we have to consider him the frontrunner in that category now.
While I’m at it, I have to say that Adapted Screenplay’s not any clearer than it was before yesterday. The Globes gave their single award to Tarantino’s original screenplay. The WGA picked Argo‘s Chris Terrio. Most critics group lavished praise on Tony Kushner for Lincoln. Last night, BAFTA picked David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook. So not helpful. But I guess there is a little clarity – costumes are looking more and more like Anna Karenina‘s happy ending.