Never underestimate the war film at the BAFTAS, especially if it’s British. Going into last night’s ceremony, it wasn’t difficult to predict that this would be the way it would go. Picking up seven awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best British Film as well as a slew of technical honours (the only ones the film really deserved), Sam Mendes’ 1917 enjoyed a veritable sweep.
But interestingly, I don’t see this necessarily repeating at the Oscars. This could just be my biases coming through (please God let Parasite win Best Picture… Please?), but there is an argument to suggest that Sam Mendes’ success will not be repeated come next Sunday. Firstly, no movie since 12 Years a Slave has repeated its BAFTA success at the Oscars. Even when a movie was a firm favourite, like La La Land or Roma, the Academy Awards turned the tables and awarded a relative underdog. This may be even more pronounced this year considering that BAFTA were awarding one of their own, suggesting they may be more inclined to award 1917 and the Oscars may not necessarily follow suit.
This season, while the acting categories have been all but sealed, the Best Picture race has been a little less clear. 1917 did indeed win Best Drama at the Golden Globes, but Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was awarded Best Comedy and also nabbed the Critics’ Choice, while Parasite won Best Ensemble at the SAGs and is gaining in the race to win Best Original Screenplay (a common bellwether for eventual Best Picture winners). The preferential ballot could also shake things up. I feel like that rules out something like Hollywood which proved to be a controversial flick. It’s a little all over the place, and we won’t know for sure until that envelope is eventually opened. My current prediction is 1917 but maybe because I lack a sense of adventure.
From the unsure, to the obvious, we come to basically every other category. This time a few weeks ago, we were saying that with such an abundance of quality, we were going into one of the most unpredictable awards seasons in recent memory. Flash forward and many categories are a done deal, even more so now that BAFTA has had its say. Joaquin Phoenix, Renee Zellweger (who shared an adorable reunion with Hugh Grant but spent the rest of the night spontaneously bursting into tears), Brad Pitt and Laura Dern should definitely have their speeches ready. I want no “I wasn’t expecting this” moments come Sunday. It will not do.
Other locks like Hildur Guonadottir, who will be the first woman in over two decades to win Best Original Score, are bound for victory (poor Thomas Newman) and Roger Deakins will be dusting off his second Oscar after a string of snubs. I would even go so far as to say that Sam Mendes is a lock for Director. 1917 is a film that lives and dies on its visual appeal. That’s the direction that the Academy has been going in since the turn of the century (see Gravity and The Revenant) so this year should be no different.
If they’re feeling democratic, this should then open up Best Picture for an alternative candidate. This is an exciting and tense moment to be a film fan. Due to the British bias, BAFTA haven’t necessarily provided a definitive answer in who will win Best Picture on Sunday. If they named Parasite or Hollywood as their film of the year, then we could be more clearly moving in their direction, but for now, let’s be happy one award seems even a little unpredictable.