E: The BAFTAs, which took place Sunday night, cleared up very little about the Oscar race. Like everyone else, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts split the different; Alfonso Cuaron for director, Gravity for Best British film, and 12 Years a Slave for overall Best Picture. At this point we need to give up on the idea that there is clarity to be had out there, that the race will ever coalesce into support for a single frontrunner. Oscar doesn’t generally roll this way, but this year a mismatch between picture and director is the safest bet.
Dallas Buyers Club didn’t play well in England, somehow; frontrunners Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto weren’t nominated and so didn’t factor into the wins. Their places were taken by the wonderful Chiwetel Ejiofor and amazing newbie Barkhad Abdi. McConaughey was amazing in DBC, but I do not regret missing one of his self-satisfied, rambling speeches; Ejiofor, by contrast, was humble and charming. Instead of cementing Lupita Nyong’o’s place as the frontrunner, however, BAFTA picked Golden Globe winner Jennifer Lawrence instead. This muddies the waters, but not too badly – BAFTA picked Emmanuelle Riva last year instead of Lawrence, so this might be a bit of an apology. It’s very unusual for Oscar to reward someone two years in a row; Lawrence would also be the youngest ever actor to win two Oscars, and that might factor in the Academy’s thinking as well. Still, the BAFTA and AAMPAS memberships are so linked that we have to take this win under serious consideration.
I couldn’t help but note, finally, that Best Actress winner Cate Blanchett has found away around her acceptance speech dilemma. I’m not implying that it’s a cynical move at all – I’m sure she was genuinely shocked and saddened by her old costar’s passing – but it’s a very very smart one.