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Friday, 19 February 2016

The Baftas 2016

While I have written about the British version of the academy awards previously, I note that I have not done so for the last few years, since the forced bonhomie of 'national treasure' host Stephen Fry is increasingly hard to take. But due to popular demand (???) he was back for his llth time last Sunday, showing little improvement, other than managing to introduce his 'surprise' presenter Tom Cruise without last year's f***ing adjective.

However since the ceremony likes to bill itself as one of the leading signposts on the so-called 'road to the Oscars', it is possibly worth examining the differences between the two occasions. For a start, the Baftas make a point of trying to recognise British talent, not only presenting awards for the best British film, the best British debut, the best rising star, and the best continuing contribution to British cinema (amusingly won this year by the theatrical costumiers Morris Angel), but also load the nominations with Brits whom the Academy has ignored (and who stand little chance of winning anyhow).

Those considerations apart, this year's choices in the main categories were boringly predictable and likely to be echoed -- with one exception -- at the upcoming Oscars. "The Revenant" which I admit I have not yet seen and which frankly I am in no rush to view seems to be on an unstoppable roll, largely fuelled by the hype that poor old Leonardo DiCaprio has never won an Oscar. I don't doubt that it was a hard shoot and gong-givers seem to love actors who have suffered for their 'art'. So Leo walked away with his prize and the same honour was granted to the film itself, its director, and its cinematographer (all for the second year running). Yawn! Interestingly Leo thanked his British co-star Tom Hardy, who surprisingly is Oscar-nominated but was not among Bafta's own choices.

The other two predictable awards were to Brie Larson for best actress and to Kate Winslet for best supporting actress. Despite all the flag-waving for "Carol", I doubt that Cate Blanchett or Rooney Mara, will upstage them for the same awards later this month. Incidentally nominating Jennifer Jason Leigh for "The Hateful Eight" by both academies is something of a joke. The one predictable big difference between the two ceremonies is in the shape of best supporting actor. The British actor Mark Rylance won here for his soaring performance in "Bridge of Spies, but the sentimental favourite for this award must be Sylvester Stallone, who was not even nominated by Bafta.

One or two other interesting points: The selection for best foreign language film was completely different from the Academy's with only "Theeb" in common, and the winner was Argentina's "Wild Tales" -- a refreshingly deserving choice rather than selecting some 'worthy' or pretentious outing. Secondly this year's Fellowship Award which usually goes to some aging Brit was presented (by satellite link) to Sidney Poitier. Take that Academy -- we have honoured a black man! They also made certain that black Brit Idris Elba received a nomination.

Going back to the annoying Mr. Fry, he created a twitter-storm after awarding the best costume design plaque to Jenny Beavan for "Mad Max: Fury Road". She accepted the prize wearing a leather jacket and sensible boots and Fry quipped that it was strange for a designer to turn up dressed as a bag lady. How the shit hit the fan! He subsequently claimed that she is in fact a dear, dear friend, that it was all a big joke between dear, dear friends, and told the Twitter trolls to F-off in fairly explicit words. I suppose it is too much to hope that we will be spared his return in 2017.
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