Can the BAFTAs Predict the 2021 Oscar Winners?

The most bizarre awards season in recent memory is about to conclude with the presentation of the Academy Awards on April 25.

The lack of open movie theaters due to Covid-19 precautions forced studios and fans to find streaming alternatives for their favorite selections, and it wasn’t one size fits all. Some films were released on subscription platforms or video on demand, and still other movies found their way into the few cinemas that were open across the country (check out our handy guide to find out where to watch them). That didn’t stop the nomination process, although most awards ceremonies were delayed and the titles weren’t as recognizable to the average filmgoer as in past years.

This has all made for an unusually difficult to predict Oscar race. One measure for many in the film industry has been other awards shows. Accordingly, Oscar watchers are now turning their attention to the last major precursor to the Oscars, the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs), which took place on April 10th and 11th (it’s split into two ceremonies) at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Let us explore some of the big wins from across the pond and how they might affect this year’s Academy Awards, now less than two weeks away.

Best Actor

Critics in the U.S. have been unanimously picking the late Chadwick Boseman for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. However, Boseman didn’t get the same buzz from the BAFTAs. Favorite son Anthony Hopkins was selected for his daunting portrayal of a man in the throws of dementia in The Father. Hopkins won his fourth BAFTA for the role, adding to his lone Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs.

While it may not change the Boseman groundswell, it is important to note the link from BAFTA to Oscars in recent years. In the past decade, they took different paths only once. In 2014, Matthew McConaughey took home the Oscar for his leading role in Dallas Buyers Club. However, weeks earlier, it was Chiwetel Ejiofor who won a BAFTA for 12 Years a Slave. McConaughey was not even nominated.

Best Actress

As for the Best Actress category, this is one of the most competitive races where we could see some Oscar night drama.

Each of the four televised award shows yielded a different winner: Critics Choice: Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman; Golden Globes: Andra Day for The People vs. Billie Holiday; SAG: Viola Davis for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; and, most recently at the BAFTAs: Frances McDormand for Nomadland. The only other member of the Oscar-nominated group is Vanessa Kirby for Pieces of a Woman.

Does McDormand’s BAFTA victory put her on the inside track for a third Oscar? Probably not, and the fact that she’s a multi-decorated Oscar winner would likely suppress any momentum from the movie.

As with the men, the BAFTAs only broke off from the Oscar trajectory one time in the past decade. That happened in 2013 when Emmanuelle Riva won the BAFTA for Amour, while Jennifer Lawrence took home the gold statuette on this continent for Silver Linings Playbook.

Best Picture

McDormand may have been a surprise winner, but the BAFTAs went according to plan for others associated with Oscar-favorite Nomadland. The sweeping movie set in the American West won the top honor and Chloe Zhau was also named Best Director. Expect Zhau to add at least one Oscar to her mantle from those categories. It was chosen Best Cinematography as well, boosting its already considerable Oscar chances.

Sure, Nomadland is the front runner to win the Oscar for Best Picture, but it shouldn’t be overlooked how the BAFTAs and Oscars picked the category the last several years.

In fact, for the past six years, the BAFTA winner was unable to add the prestigious Oscar prize for its producers. The last time both envelopes were in agreement was in 2014 with 12 Years a Slave.

Best Director

Zhau is the clear favorite for Best Director heading into the Oscars, having won numerous awards, including the BAFTA. But, again, drawing a correlation from BAFTA to Oscar can often take a circuitous route. Four of the last five years (except last year, when 1917 won the BAFTA and Parasite won the Oscar) have been a match among the award presentations. However, earlier in the decade the same could not be said as we saw split results three times.

Best Supporting Actor/Actress

The supporting roles are also tough to gain insight into using recent history. Youn Yuh-jung won the BAFTA for her performance in Minari, and could celebrate on Oscar night, but it’s not always so automatic.

Since 2010, four times there were different winners at the BAFTA and Oscar. Melissa Leo, Lupita Nyong’o, Alicia Vikander, and, most recently, Regina King took home the Academy Award without earning the comparable trophy in London.

Daniel Kaluuya won Best Supporting Actor at the BAFTAs for Judas and the Black Messiah. That puts him on track to sweep the televised major awards, as Kaluuya already was the pick at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice.

Other Categories

Promising Young Woman and The Father won Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay respectively on April 11 in the U.K. My Octopus Teacher was named Best Documentary, while Soul took the Best Animated Feature and Best Score. Sound of Metal earned a pair of BAFTAs for editing and sound.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom picked up BAFTAs for costume design, as well as make-up and hair.

Perhaps a portend for Mank, the film that tops the Oscars with 10 nominations received just one BAFTA for production design. The movie that explores how Citizen Kane came to life only managed two BAFTA nominations among the major categories, for its cinematography and screenplay.

Will any of this help you ace your Oscar ballot prediction pool this year? You’ll have to wait until the live (virtual) Oscars ceremony airs on Sunday, April 25 at 5:00/8:00 p.m. PT/ET on ABC to find out.

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