‘Grand Budapest’ dominates BAFTA as ‘Selma’ snub raises Oscar red flags

The most important thing to consider when looking at the 2015 BAFTA Awards nominations is that the voting process is actually (mostly) the opposite of the Academy Awards.  For the Best Film and acting categories, the entire membership can vote on the nominations and winners. Other honors, such as Adapted Screenplay, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design, Director, Editing, Make-Up & Hair, Original Music, Production Design, Sound, and Special Visual Effects, are determined completely by their respective branches. That means, for the most part, that the BAFTA nominations are a reflection of broad support in the top five races. Keep that in mind.

The Oscars, on the other hand, are determined by branches first except for Best Picture. The final awards are then voted on by the entire membership except for a select number of categories. The BAFTAs are important because many see them as more in line with how the Academy membership votes than some of the large guilds like SAG (not that the acting powerhouse isn't important). Taking all that into account, this morning's BAFTA announcement featured a number of surprises that could also be reflected in Thursday's Oscar nominations.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” was always going to do well, but dominate?
Wes Anderson's critical and box office hit not only led the field with 11 nominations, but earned key Best Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing and, in a major surprise, Best Actor honors for Ralph Fiennes. It's unlikely that Fiennes repeats his BAFTA nod with an Oscar one, but Editing (a branch vote) was the most telling. The Scott Rudin production could also land the most Oscar nods next week and an Anderson nod for Best Director isn't out of the question either.

Steve Carell falls to Supporting Actor
Speaking to an Oscar consultant right after the nominations were revealed, this was the first thing they noticed. Sony Classics' campaign for Carell has purposely been in lead and he earned a SAG nod in the equivalent category. Surprisingly, the BAFTA membership decided on their own that it was supporting. The Academy has also been known to put actors in categories their studios didn't prefer. Most notably, Kate Winslet in lead actress for “The Reader” in 2009. Could this be a sign of things to come?

“Nightcrawler's” support isn't a mirage
The Dan Gilroy drama earned four nominations including Actor (Jake Gyllenhaal), Original Screenplay, Editing and, the big one, Supporting Actress for Rene Russo. Don't be surprised if the stealth Oscar candidate knocks out an expected nominee on Thursday morning.

“Selma's” snub isn't a joke
Everyone who has seen “Selma” from critic to moviegoers generally feels it's a major Oscar player. Unfortunately, this is now the third time a major organization has snubbed Ava DuVernay's drama following the SAG Awards in December and the PGA last week. Those organizations didn't receive screeners for “Selma,” but considering the number of key British talent involved, including stars David Oyelowo and Tom Wilkinson, it's a huge red flag for Paramount and the film's producers.

No Director nomination for “The Imitation Game”
“The Imitation Game” earned nine nominations, which put it just behind “Grand Budapest” (11), “Birdman” and “The Theory of Everything” (10 each). However, the fact that director Morten Tyldum didn't earn a nomination is curious. Considering that many expect the film to win the Oscar for Best Picture, the fact that he lost out to James Marsh (“Theory”), Wes Anderson (“Grand Budapest”) and newcomer Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”) is telling. If Tyldum comes up short with the DGA nods on Tuesday and without an Oscar nomination on Thursday, it will be hard to see “Imitation” pulling off an “Argo”-like upset to win it all.

Amy Adams might just be a red herring… or not
With word that Jennifer Aniston's performance in “Cake” didn't qualify for this year's nominations, many assumed Marion Cotillard would fill the fifth slot for her work in either “The Immigrant” or “Two Days, One Night” (a Foreign Language Film nominee). Instead, the “Big Eyes” star surprised to fill out the field. Tim Burton's biopic has received mostly mixed reviews, but perhaps it plays better on screener than anyone thought? Maybe it's Aniston who is really the Best Actress red herring…

“Mr. Turner” comes up almost empty
One of the biggest surprises was that “Mr. Turner's” four nominations were all in the below the line categories of Make Up & Hair, Cinematography, Production Design and Costume Design. Forget Mike Leigh or Timothy Spall being overlooked, the movie didn't even make the cut for Best British Film. Yikes.

“Pride” and “Paddington” find some local love
The critically acclaimed civil rights dramedy “Pride” didn't succeed at the box office stateside, but it was a comparable hit in the UK and BAFTA didn't forget, awarding it with three nods including Best British Film and a Supporting Actress nomination for Imelda Staunton. “Paddington,” on the other hand, has been a smash overseas taking in $47 million in the UK alone (comparably, “Interstellar” has earned just $31 million). The movie is also pretty much beloved by anyone who sees it and that affection led to two nods, Best British Film and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Other notable observations:

– “How To Train Your Dragon 2” didn't make the Animated Film cut while “Big Hero 6,” which hasn't even been released in the UK yet, did. Ouch.

– “Birdman,” “Boyhood” and “The Theory of Everything” pretty much earned what everyone expected them to. No bump in the road to Oscar here.

– “American Sniper's” Adapted Screenplay nomination is another sign a similar recognition is coming from the Academy.

– “Big Eyes” earned a Production Design nod over expected nominee “Into the Woods.” 

– Even with a largely British cast, “Unbroken” was completely snubbed.

What did you think of this year's BAFTA nominations, share your thoughts below.