The 74th annual British Academy Film Awards took place this past weekend, with Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland continuing its award season dominance with a Best Film win.
Zhao herself also topped off a successful weekend, winning BAFTA’s Best Director prize to follow up on her prestigious DGA win the previous night. Leading lady Frances McDormand also picked up a huge Best Actress win, although it was to be expected considering her closest Oscar rivals – Viola Davis and Carey Mulligan – were both snubbed from the nominations.
This dominance is no surprise considering how strong the film has performed all year, and it wouldn’t be wise to bet against it come Oscar night. It’s, without a doubt, the least competitive Best Picture race in years – but that’s okay. Nomadland thoroughly deserves the acclaim and the awards, a worthy winner to follow last year’s crowd-pleasing Parasite. For every Moonlight versus La La Land and The Shape of Water versus Three Billboards, there’s a year like 2011 when The Artist’s win was already wrapped up before the ceremony even begun.
The Father had an impressive performance with the British Academy, as local favorite and previous Fellowship recipient Anthony Hopkins won his third BAFTA for Best Actor in a leading role. Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton also won for Best Adapted Screenplay, creating an exciting climax to this category come Oscar night. If Oscar voters find themselves ticking off Nomadland in most categories, they may opt for The Father’s screenplay just as BAFTA have done.
Promising Young Woman also had a good showing, winning Outstanding British Film as well as a win for Emerald Fennell in Best Original Screenplay, besting Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 script. Fennell’s first feature has been a huge success and no matter how her film performs on Oscar night, she’s a filmmaker with an incredibly exciting future.
Elsewhere in the supporting categories, Daniel Kaluuya and Youn Yuh-jung continued their much-deserved awards success with wins for Judas and the Black Messiah and Minari respectively, the only wins for each film on the night. Minari was also strongly in contention for Best Film Not in the English Language, however, Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round pulled through with the win. The Danish film has been particularly well received in the UK (including winning the London Film Festival’s Audience Award) and looks set for an Oscar win in a couple of weeks.
This year’s BAFTA ceremony was split in two this year allowing the below-the-line categories to be broadcast and making both nights a very easy and enjoyable watch. Nominees were present virtually with winners speeches performed over zoom, with only a select few presenters at the Royal Albert Hall this year.
One award that receives much fanfare in the UK is the EE Rising Star Award, an audience vote that aims to highlight a particular actor whose stock is on the rise. Rocks actress and nominee Bukky Bakray won the award this year, joining an illustrious list of winners that include James McAvoy, Tom Hardy, Tom Holland, Daniel Kaluuya, and Kristen Stewart.
Two-time Oscar-winning director Ang Lee received the prestigious BAFTA Fellowship award, with Hugh Grant on hand to honor the legendary filmmaker whose credits include Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
We are just under two weeks to go before the 93rd Academy Awards, and while the BAFTAs didn’t drastically change the trajectory of any awards, it was nevertheless a wonderful night that celebrated the standouts from an unprecedented year. A full list of winners in all categories can be found on the BAFTA website here.