BAFTA Film Awards Analysis: No Shock As ‘Oppenheimer’ Continues Dominance; Complete Snub For ‘Barbie’ And Streamers; ‘American Fiction’ Surprises – Deadline

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After eight straight years of the BAFTA and Oscars failing to match on their choice for Best Picture, you can probably take it to the bank that this year that streak will be broken as Oppenheimer continues its flawless roll toward the Academy Awards and now adding seven wins at BAFTA including the big prize to its previous triumphs at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, and DGA awards. It is all going according to plan.

And after a similar Oppenheimer-style sweep at last year’s BAFTAs with seven wins for its All Quiet On The Western Front, Netflix was completely shut out this year despite coming in with seven nominations for Masestro and twelve overall. For that matter every single streamer was pretty much royally snubbed, to use my best British term, including an even bigger loss for Apple Original Films going zero for nine with Killers Of The Flower Moon (something foretold by Martin Scorsese’s direction and Lily Gladstone’s lead actress not even nominated), and fourteen overall. Amazon, thinks to its acquired MGM studios label had five nominations for Saltburn but came up empty.

Oppenheimer wins Best Film at BAFTA Awards

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However in the night’s biggest BAFTA surprise Orion/Amazon MGM Studios/Curson’s American Fiction pulled off a stunner for those in the crowd, and first time screenwriter/director Cord Jefferson himself, by turning its single nomination for American Fiction into a victor for Adapted Screenplay. That film though is strictly a threatrical play so far and has not had a streaming run yet announced for Amazon, unlike the other streamers where their major contenders are also running on the services.

Indeed if there was any surprise at the BAFTAs it was that win, particularly for a movie whose title begins with American, and is largely about the Black experience, not an area the BAFTAs (which has been trying to make significant strides in diversity) are known to have richly rewarded in general (nine-time Oscar nominee and two-time winner Denzel Washington for instance has yet to be even nominated for a BAFTA). Its win with just that sole nomination was particularly impressive over four Brits including Nolan, Poor Thing’s Tony McNamara, All Of Us Stranger’s Andrew Haigh, and The Zone Of Interest’s Jonathan Glazer. Those four films had a collective 39(!) BAFTA nominations and, other than Strangers, all had significant wins elsewhere at the BAFTAs.

Jefferson said in his acceptance he wasn’t even gonna prepare a speech since he didn’t think he had a chance to win, and who would have predicted it against those titanic odds? This bodes very well at the Oscars in the corresponding category where Jefferson will face off with Nolan, McNamara, and Glazer again plus Barbie which only at the Oscars has been placed in the Adapted race rather than Original where it was competing at BAFTA (and lost to Anatomy Of A Fall which looks poised to take that at the Oscars just like it also did at Golden Globes). American Fiction goes into that race now in a better position since at the Oscars it is also a Best Picture nominee and has two acting nominations as well, unlike BAFTA where it was all by itself. In my initial Prediction article running in the current edition of Deadline’s Awardsline magazine I thought maybe I was going out on a little limb in predicting an Oscar victory for American Fiction as Adapted Screenplay, solely I reasoned, because it was the only nominee actually about writing. Now that prediction makes even more sense to me as BAFTA has given American Fiction some significant momentum, at least in that category. I am sticking with it! The WGA weighs in this week with their nominations and will continue American Fiction’s good fortunes.

Elsewhere I don’t think there were really any surprises. Ireland’s Cillian Murphy’s Best Actor victory for the night’s big champ Oppenheimer was a must-win considering Paul Giamatti’s surging chances for The Holdovers. Both won Golden Globes, and then Giamatti inched ahead with a Critics Choice Award. Murphy had a hometown-style advantage here and now the two will be going head to head again at Saturday’s all-important , and often telling, SAG Awards which will come as final Oscar voting is in full swing. It will be a tense night for these two especially. Murphy has two shots at SAG actually since Oppenheimer is also up for the Outstanding Cast award. SAG will also be do or die for Gladstone who is losing momentum to Poor Things’s Emma Stone, now winner of Critics Choice and BAFTA (where Gladstone was not nominated). Both won Golden Globes. It also is telling in the momentum game that Poor Things won five BAFTAs overall to zero for Killers Of The Flower Moon. Robert Downey Jr. and Da’Vine Joy Randolph, after adding BAFTA to previous big wins look locked to triumph at the Oscars unless SAG throws some completely unexpected curveball for either one.

It looks at this point as if BAFTA, which shares about 500 or so members in common with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, is putting itself back on the similar trajectory with Oscar voters after a few bumpy years of going its own way. This race is now clearly, if it wasn’t already, Oppenheimer’s to lose.

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