177 years later, ancestors of those first Middlesex patients voted on the nominations for the British Academy Film Awards (or BAFTA or "The Orange Film Awards" --make up your minds!) honoring the films of 2008. Gemma Arterton ("Strawberry Fields" in the latest Bond film) and Hayley Atwell (The Duchess) made the announcements which were... _ _ _ _ _ _.
(You saw where that was going I hope. Good.)
Years ago I paid no mind to these particular awards and, scanning over this year's nominees, I think I was probably of sound mind back then. Somewhere along the line, I lost my resistance to them -- I think it was when Kate Winslet won a prize and thanked Peter Jackson for discovering her? (It's all Heavenly Creatures fault!) -- and I have lived to curse my interest in them ever since. I grew deeply suspicious of the Orange Film Awards when they changed their schedule to become an Oscar precursor. Must everything be about the Oscars? You don't see the Goyas (Spain) or the Cesars (France) trying to predict American film prizes! Now I'm not suspicious so much as perplexed.
If you want their full list you can click on the link above but let's just talk Picture & Acting
Outstanding British FilmMamma Mia!'s nomination. What is this, the British People's Choice Awards?)
Shouldn't the main prize "Best Film" be honoring their own films, the way virtually every country's academy does, responding first to their own productions while making room for the occasional import they really loved? The way their system is structured now they're basically telling you that the only film they made this year as good as an American film is Slumdog Millionaire and that's a) not remotely true since Hunger & In Bruges and the egregiously snubbed Happy-Go-Lucky are all pretty damn good pictures b) curiously self-loathing and c) inversely funny since the American Academy has often been accused of having Anglophilia. The grass is always greener I guess.
Side note 1: Despite's Milk's Best Picture nomination, they showed no real enthusiasm. Only four noms (Pic, Screenplay, Lead Actor and Hair/Makeup)
Side note 2: Has any film in history as unpassionately received as Frost/Nixon been so unanimously embraced by so many disparate awards bodies? It's a head scratcher. I haven't met anyone who hates it and a lot of people seem to think it's good and quite entertaining (myself included) but Best Picture every single time? What's more it has achieved this breezy awards champ status without public support -- It's made less than 8 million at this writing which is very low for an eventual Best Picture nominee, even if you're only looking at box office prior to nominations. (The lowest grossing future BP nominee in the past 2o years was Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima with only $2 million in the bank prior to its nomination. But that was an Eastwood picture and the normal rules don't really apply).
I know, I know... only 10 pictures were actually released in 2008 so I guess the chances for Frost/Nixon were like 50/50 [*snort*]
It gets worse.
- Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
- Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire
- Sean Penn, Milk
- Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
- Angelina Jolie, Changeling
- Kristin Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long
- Meryl Streep, Doubt
- Kate Winslet, The Reader
- Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
We always marvel (rightly, I'd wager) that most of their stars actually train to act, rather than just show up at auditions hoping to be famous. But this is another reminder that acting well and judging artistic efforts are different skills. I wonder if Dame Judi Dench actually thought Dev Patel gave a stronger performance than Michael Fassbender in Hunger? Blargh!
I just don't have time for BAFTA anymore. At least if Patel gets nominated at the Oscars (likely) he'll be demoted to Supporting where they'll often nominate someone on the sole basis of their cuteness or luck at appearing in a popular film -- it's vaguely expected.
- Robert Downey Jr. Tropic Thunder
- Brendan Gleeson, In Bruges
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
- Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
- Brad Pitt, Burn After Reading
- Amy Adams, Doubt
- Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
- Freida Pinto, Slumdog Millionaire
- Tilda Swinton, Burn After Reading
- Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
P.S. I love beautiful people. They're wonderful to look at. I actually think we should have more ridiculously beautiful people in the movies and Pinto's pure loveliness is actually sort of jaw dropping. But hear me out. Just add a "Most Desirable" category like they used to do at the MTV Movie Awards. I mean... since that's how you wanna roll. I think Keanu Reeves is one of the most beautiful men ever projected on the silver screen but you don't see me handing him Best Actor prizes.
Beauty is its own reward. Shouldn't it remain so?
P.S. 2 New readers should note that I am not always this crabby. BAFTA nominations merely make me long for padded cells... (it's safer to bang your head against the wall that way). I promise to be less filled with bile next week. Er... that's when the Oscar nominations come out. Uhhhh, I take that back.
P.S. 3 Oscar Predictions updates are coming tonight.