BAFTAs: Casey Affleck, Dev Patel Wins Don't Necessarily Point the Way to Oscars

THR's awards analyst notes that the awards, which are chosen by a group that includes some 500 Academy members, have a shaky track record at predicting the Oscars.
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Casey Affleck

Team La La Land, Manchester by the Sea's Casey Affleck and Lion's Dev Patel were among the big winners at the 70th BAFTA Awards on Sunday. But do the results of the U.K.'s equivalent of the Oscars actually tell us anything about the actual Oscars ceremony that will take place in exactly two weeks?

Yes and no.

The memberships of both BAFTA and the Academy number around 7,000. Some 500 people belong to both groups, meaning BAFTA's picks may reflect the preferences of 7 percent of the Academy's, a healthy sample size. And, since the final round of Oscar voting only begins Monday (and extends through 5 p.m. PT on Feb. 21), BAFTA's picks could conceivably sway other Academy members to vote differently.

But any analysis of this year's BAFTA results must take into account the fact that a number of the most prominent Oscar hopefuls weren't even nominated for recognition across the pond.

In some categories, this simply was a byproduct of differences in the number of nominees per category. BAFTA nominates only five films for its top prize, best film, while the Academy nominates anywhere from five to 10 each year for its top prize, best picture (nine this year). In other words, La La Land, the heavy favorite for the best picture Oscar, won the best film BAFTA without having to face all of the same competition that it will face in Oscar voting — it topped fellow best picture Oscar nominees Arrival, Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight, as well as Oscar-snubbed I, Daniel Blake, but did not share the ballot with Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures or Lion. And it prevailed under a popular ballot, not a preferential ballot like the Academy employs.

None of this is to say that La La Land won't win the best picture Oscar — it probably will — but just that the BAFTA result doesn't exactly confirm that. Indeed, at the 16 previous BAFTA ceremonies since the BAFTAs moved in front of the Oscars on the calendar in 2001, only seven best film BAFTA winners went on to win the best picture Oscar. The nine discrepancies: BAFTA went for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Pianist, The Aviator, Brokeback Mountain, The Queen, Atonement, Boyhood and The Revenant, while the Academy opted for A Beautiful Mind, Chicago, Million Dollar Baby, Crash, The Departed, No Country for Old Men, Birdman and Spotlight.

Other categories are even more problematic.

The BAFTAs didn't shed much light on this year's closest Oscar race, best actor, since Fences' Denzel Washington, who won this year's best actor SAG Award, wasn't even nominated for the best actor BAFTA — it's troubling that the seven-time Oscar nominee/two-time Oscar winner never has been nominated for a BAFTA in any category, just like fellow Oscar winner Morgan Freeman. The best actor BAFTA instead went to Washington's chief competitor for the best actor Academy Award, Manchester by the Sea's Affleck, on the heels of Affleck's best actor (drama) Golden Globe.

It must be noted that there are only a few performers who have won both a Globe and a BAFTA, which are both decided by "international" voters, but not an Oscar, at least in the years since the BAFTAs were moved before the Oscars. That combo has predicted several recent Oscar "upset" or "even-money" winners: best supporting actor Jim Broadbent for Iris (2001), best actress Nicole Kidman for The Hours (2002), best actress Marion Cotillard for La Vie en rose (2007), best actor Jean Dujardin for The Artist (2011), best actress Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady (2011) and best supporting actor Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained (2012).

The only times they missed were when Globe and BAFTA prizes went to Bill Murray for Lost in Translation (2003), Clive Owen for Closer (2004), Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler (2008), Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle (2013) and Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs (2015), but the Academy sided with Sean Penn for Mystic River, Morgan Freeman for Million Dollar Baby, Penn again for Milk, Lupita Nyong'o for 12 Years a Slave and Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl, respectively. However, two of the five instances in which the Academy did not reward a Globe and BAFTA winner involved the Academy honoring a person of color when BAFTA did not, suggesting to me that the Oscars are more open to diverse options — such as Washington — than BAFTA and the Globes.

One also must note that when BAFTA has "missed," in terms of anticipating an Oscar winner, it usually has been the result of the group siding, in a close race, with a British contender against a non-British contender — i.e., awarding Thandie Newton best supporting actress for Crash (2005), Helena Bonham Carter best supporting actress for The King's Speech (2010), Chiwetel Ejiofor best actor for 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Winslet best supporting actress for Steve Jobs (2015). That is why one should take with a grain of salt the somewhat unexpected best supporting actor BAFTA win of Lion's Patel over two fellow Oscar nominees who are American, Moonlight's Mahershala Ali and Hell or High Water's Jeff Bridges, as well as two fellow Brits, Florence Foster Jenkins' Hugh Grant and Nocturnal Animals' Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who were not Oscar-nominated.

Some other BAFTA winners seem vulnerable at the Oscars, as well. 13th won best documentary, but it did not face any of the four docs opposite which it's nominated at the Oscars, including heavy favorite O.J.: Made in America. And Kubo and the Two Strings won best animated film over a field that included the two Oscar favorites, Zootopia and Moana.

BAFTA's female acting winners — La La Land's Emma Stone in the best actress category and Fences' Viola Davis in the best supporting actress category — were widely expected to prevail, as were the group's picks for best original music and cinematography (La La Land), special visual effects (The Jungle Book) and makeup and hair (Florence Foster Jenkins, even though it is not Oscar-nominated in the Academy's corresponding category).

It was unclear whether or not La La Land would dominate below-the-line categories, and in the end it did not, losing best sound to Arrival, best production design to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, best costume design to Jackie and best editing to Hacksaw Ridge. It still wound up with a field-leading five wins, but its overall showing suggests that it may not sweep the Oscars (for which it received a record-tying 14 Oscar noms), after all.