For whatever reason, I always find myself forgetting about BAFTA’s series of ‘A Life in Pictures’ tributes, wherein assorted big-name actors and directors speak about their work to a public audience at the British Academy’s headquarters. (It’s a little like the James Lipton treatment, if a mite less toadying.) Previous honorees run the gamut from Will Ferrell to Jean-Pierre Jeunet, so it’s not particularly an awards-related deal, but it just so happens that BAFTA’s two most recent selections for the series are currently on the campaign trail: “Young Adult” star Charlize Theron was up last week, while “My Week With Marilyn” hopeful Kenneth Branagh has his turn on Saturday. It certainly won’t hurt their visibility with voters.
I didn’t even know Theron was being celebrated the very next day when I reflected on the South African’s early career highlights on Friday. In retrospect, it all ties in rather nicely — even if it still seems a tad early for the 30-something star to be given the this-is-your-life treatment. (A BAFTA, incidentally, is one award Theron hasn’t won: nominated for “Monster” the year after her Oscar win due to release-date discrepancy, she wound up losing to Imelda Staunton.)
It’s a shame that BAFTA doesn’t post video footage from these talk on their website, though a gather from a colleague who was present that she was a typically engaging presence, swearing copiously as if still in character from “Young Adult” — the third act of which, she explained, was her chief reason for doing the film. (No, I don’t know, either.)
Branagh is a more expected choice for this sort of thing: I’d gladly go along if I weren’t out of town this weekend, though I’m sure he’ll be plummily erudite as ever. (If you’re in London and fancy bagging a ticket, check out the BAFTA site.) I can’t imagine he’ll have to work very hard to charm the BAFTA crowd. While I find myself wavering on what I once thought looked an easy Oscar nod for his Laurence Olivier impression in “Marilyn” — he’s fun, but the role amounts to little more than mannered schtick — I have little doubt that his eighth nomination from the Brits (most of them for small-screen work) is on its way.
On a side note: a friend recently pointed out a nifty bit of trivia to me: should Branagh score a Supporting Actor mention from the Academy, he’ll be only the second person (Warren Beatty being the first) to have accumulated nominations in five different categories. He currently holds nods, if no wins, for Best Director, Actor, Adapted Screenplay and Live-Action Short. There’s one for the pub quiz file.
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