If there is any yearly awards event that usually reflects this writer’s cinematic leanings it would be the BAFTA Film Awards. In fact, the U.K.’s version of the Academy Awards has had a special place in my heart since they awarded Sigourney Weaver for a best supporting actress honor for the “Ice Storm” in 1998 after the U.S. Academy didn’t even nominate her (sigh). This year’s 2012 BAFTA nominations delivered lots of love for “The Artist,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “The Descendants” and “My Week with Marilyn” as expected, but there were some major surprises as well. Considering there is significant overlap between BAFTA and Academy membership (enough that studio consultants take the nods very seriously), today’s nominations may be a sign of some intriguing surprises when the Oscar nods are announced seven days from now. Let’s review, shall we?
No best picture nomination for “Hugo”
Unlike Oscar BAFTA only awards five best picture nominations (well, we assume), but producer Graham King and Paramount have to be startled that Martin Scorsese’s critically acclaimed family adventure didn’t land a best picture nod, but “The Help” and “Drive” did.
Real love for “The Help”
Speaking of the DreamWorks drama, “The Help” is not necessarily a picture you would think would resonate with BAFTA members (it grossed only $6.4 million in the U.K.), but the picture landed five nominations including best picture, best adapted screenplay, best actress (Viola Davis) and two best supporting actress nominations (Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer). To say the DreamWorks team is thrilled right now is a royal understatement.
BAFTA loves “Bridesmaids” pt. 1: Melissa McCarthy cracks the supporting actress field
More unexpected love went to “Bridesmaids” where Melissa McCarthy found herself with a BAFTA supporting actress recognition. This had to be a surprise for Universal who were hoping for traditional SAG support (McCarthy is also a nominee for that honor) more than love from across the pond. Looks like “Mike & Molly” might have to go on hiatus a few days early so McCarthy can head to London for the show (yeah, we don’t think CBS would let that happen either, but we’re rooting for her to go).
BAFTA loves “Bridesmaids” pt. 2: The blockbuster lands an original screenplay nomination
Sure, original screenplay is a weak category most years including this one, but Kristen Wiig and Anne Mumolo’s work still beat out “Shame” (written by two Brits) and “50/50.”
“Senna” lands an editing nomination
How much does the org love the documentary about the iconic formula one race car driver? Not only did it land one of just three best documentary nominations and a best British film nod, but it became the rare doc to earn a best editing mention. The Working Title project also beat out tough competitors such as “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “War Horse,” “The Descendants” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pt. 2” in that category.
There’s something about Albert Brooks
In an ominous sign for fans of Albert Brooks’ fantastic performances in “Drive,” the Nicholas Winding Refn thriller picked up impressive nominations in the best picture, best director, best editing and best supporting actress (Carey Mulligan) categories, but Brooks was shut out. Considering Jonah Hill was recognized here, Philip Seymour Hoffman finally got lauded for “Ides of March” and Brooks also didn’t make the SAG cut, things are not looking good for Oscar.
No supporting actor nomination for “Tinker Tailor Solider Spy”
“Tinker Tailor” was a huge hit in the U.K. (it has done very well in limited release in the U.S. as well so far) and found itself with 11 BAFTA nods including best picture, best director, best actor and best editing. However, the acclaimed supporting cast that made the longlist cut – Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth and John Hurt – couldn’t knock borderline nominees Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman from the field. At this point, we have to assume they just cancelled each other out.
Is this a sign of weak directorial support for Alexander Payne?
In the only bad news for Fox Searchlight after a superb Golden Globes night for “The Descendants,” Alexander Payne’s dramedy found best picture, screenplay and best actor nominations, but not director. If “Descendants” is going to overtake “The Artist” to win the Oscar, it’s going to need support from across the Academy’s branches. If the directors don’t see it, that’s not so good.
Carey Mulligan is nominated for…”Drive” and not “Shame”
BAFTA bizarrely put Mulligan’s “Shame” work in the lead actress category making it almost impossible for her to make the field. Instead, her fine performance in “Drive” was a surprise nomination for supporting actress instead. No disrespect to her work in “Drive,” but the fact the previous BAFTA winning actress didn’t get nominated for her stunning work in “Shame” in anyway is, well, shameful.
“War Horse” couldn’t make the best picture or director cut
BAFTA rewarded the film’s cinematography, score, production design, sound and – shockingly – visual effects, but weren’t pleased enough to provide adapted screenplay, director or picture nominations. Could we see the same result on Oscar Tuesday? It’s starting to look that way.
What did you think of this year’s BAFTA Film Awards nominations? Share your thoughts below.
For year round entertainment commentary and awards season news follow @HitFixGregory on Twitter.