BAFTA Awards Nominations: Biggest Surprises and Snubs

Courtesy of Niko Tavernise/Twentieth Century Fox
'The Post'

Steven Spielberg's 'The Post' was shut out as British sleeper 'Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool' pulled in three noms.

The BAFTAs, the British Film Academy's annual honors, pride themselves on their ability to shift the awards season focus, slightly, away from Hollywood and towards the U.K.

The 2018 BAFTA nominations, unveiled Tuesday, were no exception. While there were kudos for the biggest and buzziest American titles this season — Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water leads the pack with 12 noms — British titles, or British co-productions, from Martin McDonagh's Golden Globe winner Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Joe Wright's biopic Darkest Hour (9 mentions each) to Christopher Nolan's war epic Dunkirk (eight), dominated the list.

This Brit focus goes some way to explain what looks like the most glaring snubs from this year's nominations — though why Steven Spielberg's The Post, a leading Oscar candidate, failed to get a single BAFTA mention may be a mystery for many. The period drama, starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, tracing The Washington Post's battle to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971, was a critical hit in Britain and its themes of fake news and political meddling couldn't help but strike a chord with the land that brought us Brexit. But BAFTA voters opted for more homegrown history in the form of World War II dramas Darkest Hour and Dunkirk.

Another glaring snub was Des Rees' sweeping period drama Mudbound, which also came away empty-handed. The fact that Mudbound was a Netflix title may have hurt it with more traditional BAFTA voters.

Three other awards favorites, all with U.S.-centric storylines, were passed over by BAFTA in the best film and director categories but received recognition elsewhere. They are Jordan Peele's Get Out, Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird and Craig Gillespie's I, Tonya.

Britain-born Daniel Kaluuya nabbed a best actor nom for his turn in Get Out; both Margot Robbie and Allison Janney are in the running for best actress and best supporting actress, respectively, for I, Tonya; and Lady Bird picked up three BAFTA noms, including in the best actress category for Saoirse Ronan and best original screenplay category for Gerwig.

On the opposite side of the coin, a Brit film not on the U.S. awards radar, Paul McGuigan's Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, earned three BAFTA nominations, with both Jamie Bell and Annette Bening scoring best acting mentions for their starring roles in the spring-autumn romance tale and Matt Greenhalgh receiving a nom for best adapted screenplay.

Another surprise for many was the best director nomination for Denis Villeneuve for his helming of Blade Runner 2049. The Canadian director earned raves for his reboot of Ridley Scott's sci-fi classic, but it is rare for a genre title, and a sequel, to get that sort of BAFTA love. Blade Runner 2049 received seven more nominations in technical categories, meaning its BAFTA total matches the eight given to Scott's 1982 original pic (though Scott did not get a director's nom).

Many in the British industry would have liked to have seen a bit more love set in the direction of God's Own Country. Francis Lee's directorial debut — a love story between two men working as shepherds in rural Yorkshire — was a crossover success, but it only managed a single BAFTA nom, for best British film. Lead Josh O'Connor got a mention, as one of the Rising Star nominees, the sole category voted on by the British public and not BAFTA members.

William Oldroyd's directorial debut, Lady MacBeth, did a bit better, receiving nominations in the outstanding British film and outstanding British debut categories, with actress Florence Pugh also picking up a Rising Star nom.