Thursday, January 19, 2006

BAFTA Nominations. A Sampling.

Here's a sampling of the British Film Academy nominations. Don't get too excited. It's snoresville. And I'm in an ugly mood and BAFTA invariably annoys me each year (far less discerning than AMPAS if that's possible) so be warned. Plus I always fail to understand how BAFTA relates to the Oscars. It gets very little press coverage in America after all) but other Oscar predictors get excited about them... and I don't have anything else to write about this morning. ;)

Nearly all Oscar ballots are already in. The last major thing that could influence nominations was probably the Globe wins. And even that is pushing it since they always say that the majority of Oscar voters turn in their ballot quickly after receiving it (i.e. the week before this year's Globe ceremony). The buzz of two weeks ago is more important to nominations than the buzz of right now. Theoretically.

But on to BAFTA...

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN - focus features / CAPOTE - sony pictures classics / THE CONSTANT GARDENER - focus features /
CRASH - lions gate / GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK - warner independent pictures
Outstanding British Film of the Year

I have never completely fathomed how it is that the British Academy and the American Academy think so much alike. And every year about this time when I start getting sick of precursors I wonder why there are so so so many when they don't really have their own "voices." The homogeny is soul crushing. Only the Globes stuck their neck out this year w/ that History of Violence nomination.

Achievement in Direction
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN - Ang Lee / CAPOTE - Bennett Miller / THE CONSTANT GARDENER - Fernando Meirelles / CRASH - Paul Haggis / GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK - George Clooney

Again. Too similar to what will be the Oscar list. zzzzz. I'm hoping AMPAS leaves out Meirelles and Haggis. With the former --well who needs two Oscar nods that early in their international career? Should he really be that far ahead of every other foreign director who have ever lived after only two widely seen pictures? And with the latter. His direction isn't very impressive. Crash has its moments but as a directorial piece? Nah.

Actor in a Leading Role
DAVID STRATHAIRN - Good Night, And Good Luck
HEATH LEDGER - Brokeback Mountain
RALPH FIENNES - The Constant Gardener

nice to see Ralph Fiennes in the list. This would be sweet as the Oscar lineup. However... Despite my faith that Jeff Daniels, Terrence Howard, and Ralph Fiennes are all pulling more votes than pre-season would lead us to believe I begin to fear that Russell Crowe could actually pull this off after all. I'm not predicting it. But perhaps the reason he keeps making lineups (this one excluded obviously) when he's far from one of the 5 most lauded in a very strong actor year is because these other three highly acclaimed men are splitting each others support leaving the most middlebrow & most famous contender to rise up. If that happens -blah! Howard, Daniels, or Fiennes would all be very worthwhile nods from AMPAS voters. Nominations that would look smart and discerning in the history books. Crowe is overrewarded already and nothing particularly special in quite a special year for this category. I'm not saying he wasn't good. He sold Jim Braddock. I'm just saying in this year? 2005 is such a great year for this category. Give it to one of the men who really made this particular year soar (Daniels, Howard, or Fiennes thankyouverymuch)

Actress in a Leading Role
JUDI DENCH - Mrs. Henderson Presents
RACHEL WEISZ - The Constant Gardener
ZIYI ZHANG - Memoirs of a Geisha

Happy to see Rachel with the leads. But otherwise zzzz. I have met several actors in my day and only one or two of them have seemed completely dim (which is a common negative you hear about their ilk) so I continue to wonder why actors who rely on their imagination for their income have so little imagination when it comes to looking at other actors' work... or at least when it comes to writing the names down on a ballot. I think Ziyi Zhang is cute as a button and I think she's deserving of nominations this year (for 2046) but if you try to tell me that she gave one of the five best performances of the year in Memoirs (where she is stiff and uncomfortable and doesn't have much of a character to work with to begin with) I will have no choice but to consider you completely daft. Who thinks this way? Who really thinks that she gave one of the best five performances of the year? Show of Hands? Beauty and memorable young career aside one of the five best of the year? I can name 15 women instantly (even in this weak year!) --without even looking at a list-- who deserve acknowledgement before her. And though I admire Theron's attempt at giving North Country some grit it's also a relatively unspecial performance. So why does it keep cropping up? Where is the passion or the imagination from people with ballots in their hands?

Actor in a Supporting Role
GEORGE CLOONEY - Good Night, And Good Luck
JAKE GYLLENHAAL - Brokeback Mountain

Interesting to note that the British Academy does not have rules against actors receiving two nominations in the same category (This is verboten w/ the American Academy). And once again we see actors with no imaginations voting. They just picked 4 films they liked. I think Don Cheadle is a great actor. But in no way was he special in Crash. He wasn't even the best in that film...let alone the hundreds of other films that came out. Argh. And no way was Clooney better in GNaGL than Frank Langella or Ray Wise or any of them really. He just happens to be more famous.

Actress in a Supporting Role
BRENDA BLETHYN - Pride & Prejudice
MICHELLE WILLIAMS - Brokeback Mountain

Supporting Actress. This category just keeps staying crazy. Fun to see a new name thrown in (Blethyn). Not so fun to see a highly uneven performance thrown in (Newton). I'm assuming Junebug didn't play in Britain. Thus no Amy Adams. I suppose a Newton nomination w/ Oscar isn't out of the realm of possibility. But it'd be a bummer to see any of the deserving frontrunners booted for her inclusion.


Anonymous said...

The Constant Gardener is not Meirelle's second film.

Anonymous said...

this doesn't seem that boring. assuming it has any influence on Oscars, this is a big bump for Constant Gardener, with nods in the top four categories.

Were Munich and Match Point eligible? If so, a slap in the face to both with no appearances.

Anonymous said...

You're right... this is a total snore.

It doesn't even give any press to low-key British films like it did last year with Dirty Pretty Things.

And, um... you just mentioned Ray Wise's performance in GNaGL. You might be the first person to mention Ray Wise anywhere.

Billy McLellan said...

i agree with EVERYTHING you said. especially with the stuff about ziyi zhang. it makes me want to die every time keira knightley is passed over for her inclusion. sick to my stomach.

Anonymous said...

I too don’t see enough in Zhang’s Geisha performance to nominate her. In fact, from her filmography to date (most of which I’ve seen), only “Rush Hour 2” was a less interesting performance. I’d still vote for Toni Collette or Radha Mitchell or Naomi Watts, or even Sarah Jessica Parker before I’d even think about voting for Zhang.

That movie is all about Gong Li.


Anonymous said...

And P.S. if you think the Academy has a short memory, the British Academy doesn't even need a memory. Capote, Walk The Line, North Country... none of them have opened in the UK yet.


Nick M. said...


That's the only reason to glance at these nominations.

Oh, and I think Ralph can pull of an Oscar nomination.

Anonymous said...

I give up.

I was looking forward to the BAFTA noms a lot (not sure why even, just rooting for the home team I guess). Sometimes they come up with interesting choices, but not this year.

Finnes is good but utterly predictable for BAFTA and what on earth is Zhang doing with yet another nom? For a really not terribly interesting performance in a beautiful looking but emotionally dead film.

Theron and Cheadle I think might be a sort of "sorry our time scale mucked you up for Monster and Hotel Rwanda" consolation prize. (Maybe)

Munich only just opened and there was a whole disaster attached to sending out screeners with Region 1 coding so us feeble brits couldn't see the film. Match Point has had a kind of "meh" reaction. Not a lot of passion either way.

All in all a disappointment. I hoped for better, more intelligent choices - but then so I expect did we all. Oh, happy that Jake got in for supporting. And Wallace and Grommit is nice to see.

Calum Reed said...

Nathaniel, I think you're a little harsh on Ziyi Zhang :P . In no way do I think it's top five but I think shes does very well considering the horrendous screenplay and the fact she has limited english. Her performance in 2046, however, is superb.

The nominations were quite boring this year actually, especially disappointed with Theron and Cheadle. How did Keira not manage to be nominated? Happy for Fiennes but I don't think he's near Top 5 either.

Junebug isn't out here til March 1 which probably means not many people have seen it. I like the inclusion of Thandie Newton who makes a big impact in the film, given the limited screentime. Brenda Blethyn is an inspired choice!

Nick M. said...

If possible, I don't think you were harsh enough with Ziyi Zhang.

I thought the same exact things when I saw her at the Globes. "She's so adorable...but oh so terrible in that film."

Yaseen Ali said...

I'm still in shock that Keira Knightley was snubbed. I mean, I thought if she would make it in anywhere, it would be the BAFTAs. Even more shocking is the lack of Pride and Prejudice love overall. I thought it would show up in almost every category.

Ramification said...

I am a bit surprised about the exclusion of Scarlett Johannson here, BAFTA loves her. As for the Charlize / Cheadle noms, BAFTA did nominate Charlize for Monster but a year after the Oscars did so I don't think its a make-up nod for her, she along with Clooney have star-power and BAFTA seems to like that (even more than the Golden Globes it seems). As for Cheadle I think you are right, the members wanted to nominate him for Hotel Rwanda this year but figured there was no room for him so he got a Supporting instead.

I can't find any explanation for the George Clooney GNGL nod, and the exclusion of Terrence Howard in the supporting actor category is criminal (clearly they love the film, and he had a breakout year, so where is he).

Anonymous said...

"when he's far from one of the 5 most lauded in a very strong actor year is because these other three highly acclaimed men are splitting each others support"

I know you don't like Crowe but you keep repeating this and it's just not true. I've been following Crowe's career for many years and the praise he's received for his performance as Jim Braddock has been some of the most laudatory of his career. Many critics think this is one of his finest performances, perhaps equal to Jeffrey Wigand.

I don't think he's splitting votes anywhere, I think the BFCA, HFPA and the actors in SAG recognize him as one of the best actors of our time.

I'm not surprised about the BAFTAs, did anyone think they were NOT going to nominate Ralph Fiennes? I like Fiennes and he was very good in TCG but he wasn't better than Crowe. It's too bad there isn't room for about 8 actors in the BA category this year but there isn't. If there truly is only one spot not 'locked', then either Crowe, Fiennes or Howard could make it and it would be well-deserved.


felippe -corrected. sorry.

right said -how is it not boring? as usual the BAFTAS have even less films that receive any nominations than Oscar. They pick the 10 they love and give them nods everywhere. even worse than AMPAS when it comes to sharing the wealth.

aaron -i read someone else speak highly of ray wise. but i can't remember who. ;)

mcclellan -i'm not sick when Knightley is passed over (weak year and in 5th place for me) BUT the continued snub of Joan Allen everywhere is inexcusable.

rob -gong li it is. which is kinda cool since Ziyi Zhang sort of took over Gong Li's position in Asian export cinema. Gong reclaiming her turf. ;0

nick m -i'd be happy to see Fiennes with a nod. so long as he doesn't bump Strathairn to get it (still think he's a tiny bit vulnerable.

anon -match point seems to be getting that reaction here too. They shoulda released it RIGHT after Cannes. I think the 7 months of hearing how it was the second coming set up it for easy dismissal when it finally arrived.

cal -i was happy to see Blethyn too. if only to have some new faces in the mix. and sure, Ziyi did all right given her limitations but the limitations are still there and i don't feel you should grade on a curve when handing out "best of" prizes. If she's nowhere close to the best 5 there's no reason why she should keep popping up on these lists.

c wick -it's been awhile since CM premiered here. Maybe I'm wrong? I would just be surprised if Crowe actually did receive notices better than Ledger, Hoffman, Daniels, and Howard who have all been called genius, revelatory, career defining etc... reviews that good are hard to come by. For sure people loved the performance. But I don't recall any genuflecting "BRANDO!!!" type of comments. And yes, I'm not a big fan of Crowe but I'd be disappointed if those reviews were equal to his work as Jeffrey Wigand which was indisputably an awards caliber performance for any year. But it could be that we are both being selective in the reviews were noticing. Just about any famous actor will receive some "best work ever" notices for any good performance... because there are a lot of overly exciteable critics and journalists out there.

Anonymous said...

You people make it sound like the British Academy all got together in one room, and plotted out the nomination.
"As for Cheadle I think you are right, the members wanted to nominate him for Hotel Rwanda this year but figured there was no room for him so he got a Supporting instead."

So you're saying the actors in the Academy got together and decided that? Are you KIDDING me?

Anonymous said...

Here in the UK, Crash was HUGE. I left the states in August and it had just opened seemed like it played everywhere forever. Good film, yes...but jeesh.

Anonymous said...

Truth be known, BAFTA just want to suck up to Oscar, and add a British twist to its American counterpart's decisions.

This is most rampantly exhibited in the Best Actress category, where the best applause of the night has in recent years gone to point-making victories for Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth), Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake) and especially the extended standing ovation for Judi Dench (Mrs Brown). BAFTA wants these moments to read like a neon-coloured reversal of where the Oscar went (or, in the case of Staunton, where people feared the Oscar WOULD go), and they hope the US are watching to take note. I guess the US could probably care less.

Because BAFTA craves validity as an Oscar precursor, the recent year-out-of-date nominations - like Hilary Swank (Boys Don't Cry), Halle Berry (Monsters Ball) and Charlize Theron (Monster) - all smack of wanting to include their performances (and invite an A-List name to glam the event up), but they never, ever hand an award to a year-old performance in case they end up looking out of sync with Oscar.

Oh, and Nat - The Upside of Anger has never surfaced in the UK, so hence the Allen snub. I had to see the performance on imported US DVD. (BAFTA may not do its homework, but I do!)


Javier Aldabalde said...

Well they did nominate Motorcycle Diaries last year. Love 'em for that ;)

adam k. said...

Do you suppose Judi Dench will win another BAFTA this year? Or will it just be Reese again?

I too was annoyed that Pride & Prejudice was out of everything except best british film and, strangely, supporting actress. You'd think Joe Wright, Donald Sutherland and particularly Keira Knightley would have found their way in.

adam k. said...

Also, I'd been doubting Keira's chances ever since she was placed in comedy by the globes.. and now the SAG snub plus this (really surprising) one makes me think even Allen has a better than her.

Anonymous said...

Ray Wise showed up sporadically in the Village Voice critics' poll, as I recall, and I remember at least one person singling him out as holding down the most interesting strand of the film. I enjoyed his work more than Strathairn's (technically superior)performance, and although I remember G'naggle quite vividly, he's the only thing I'm particularly glad to be remembering (G'naggle was by no means a bad film, say I; It just felt like a spoken sentence. I feel as though I could've read barely a few sentences of some essay in The American Prospect or what have you and perfectly understood everything the movie had to say. Admittedly, in that case I wouldn't get to witness lovely black-and-white shots, or beguiling Dianne Reeves renditions of Rosemary Clooney standards, or Patricia Clarkson being who she is. An' it nimbly captures '50s newsroom ambience; it's a staid movie but only 'cause it would naturally be. But as much finesse as Clooney possesses, I kinda felt like I didn't need to spend two hours with that movie. The same argument can be leveled reasonably against Brokeback, or Gardener, or whatever other film with an ideological perspective to stress, but I can't explain it-- I felt like the film's characterizations weren't especially rich. I'm not convinced that putting some dramatic meat on the film's bones would've automatically resulted in the uncalled-for beatification of Ed Murrow, not with this team of filmmakers, and not with Strathairn playing him so unaffectedly. I out and out wanted more of a -movie-.

Anonymous said...

BAFTA can occasionally be crafty, as per last year when ETERNAL SUNSHINE snuck into their Best Picture lineup and they deigned to nominate Rodrigo de la Serna, as well as Philip Davis and Heather Craney of VERA DRAKE (the latter's role is so small I can hardly remember her character's role in the plot.) They've also given more shine than AMPAS has to AMELIE, SHREK and RUN LOLA RUN. So I wouldn't necessarily make the allegation that BAFTA doesn't think for itself, simply that the slight variations in the seasonal lineup are seldom very interesting, so it's as if they hadn't. Kudos this year really belong to the Kansas City film critics, the only really groovy selections I've seen all year. Except, of course, for the Satellites, which by and large kick every single awards-giving body's ass every single year (less so this year than others, but 2001 was a doozy); I wish they had more bearing as a precursor.

Is it inconcievable that Viggo Mortensen could finagle a nod, then? He's genuinely amazing in A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. But, then, he's fourth or fifth in line for the hotly contested fifth slot, so ah well.

Joe R. said...

"aaron -i read someone else speak highly of ray wise. but i can't remember who. ;)"


Anonymous said...

Can't we all just be happy about low-budget independent films getting all the attention?


It's cool that the big bloated Hollywood Oscar bait is not really in play, yes. I'm just disappointed that the big bloated Oscar bait performances are still in play ;)

it's like none of the awards bodies are even trying to think about it this year. They're just going "oh, yeah. i'm supposed to vote for Charlize"

Glenn Dunks said...

Well, I loved Thandie in Crash so I'm sorta in love with that!

The BAFTAs are definitely not as interesting this year as they have been in years past.

However, I really believe that people love The Constant Gardener. As much as I love ya Nat, you seem to think that it's a Cinderella Man style movie made specificially for Oscar. While they probably figured they might've gotten some, it's highly likely that the film just turned out to be great. A LOT of people love the movie, and you make it sounds like when people select it for anything (other than Fiennes and Weisz) that they're merely bowing down to Oscar-bait ala CM or Memoirs.

And, yes, there are indeed plenty of people who feel Fernando Meirelles deserves a second Best Director nomination.

You might not feel he does, but I hope you realise Constant Gardener isn't a simple case of awards voters being forcefed Oscarbait. It is a film that many people love and feel deserves awards.

Hmmm, whatever.

tim r said...

Junebug opens here in March, but it hasn't been screened yet, ditto Squid and the Whale and of course Munich, screened too late to be in contention. The Pride & Prejudice shutout is the only real surprise I can see.

Just saw GNaGL last night, and I agree with almost everything the human trumpet solo says, including the Ray Wise praise. He's one of the few characters in the movie who doesn't already seem convinced in a back-slapping way of his own importance, and consequently one of the few who actually seems like flesh and blood. Clooney is the worst offender - he's all smirk - and there's really nothing particularly special about his direction. Good actors smoking, a whole lot of newsreel, and those jazz interludes - how hard could it have been? It's a reasonable film up to a point, but the Clooney love is getting a little excessive here, don't you think?

adam k. said...

Glenn - Well, I have not seen Constant Gardener, but in Nat's defense, he didn't put Constant Gardener in his "please spare us these desperate oscar-baiters" batch of films, he put it in the "not a personal favorite, but I can see why you might like it" batch of films. My own impression has always been that Nat just didn't much like the film overall (thought the narrative was too choppy and over-stylized or something? I don't remember) but I don't recall him ever saying he thought the film was shallow oscarbait, just that he felt it was overpraised (outside of Feinnes & Weisz, of course).

Glenn Dunks said...

It's sorta just what it sounded like though. Because some people (not Nat usually, but others - people at Dave Poland's blog and others like it) think that if they don't think a movie is any good then it clearly is not and they cannot fathom how people can like it. For example - there was a recent discussion over there about Titanic. It was mind-boggling how some people were like "it's a travesty. How anyone can like it is beyond me" etc.

It just sounded like Nat was/is being unduly mean towards the movie. I don't care if anyone doesn't like a movie I do (i dislike plenty of movies others love), but it seems strange to question whether people actually like a movie like Constant Gardener. If they were nominating Geisha or Cinderella Man then questioning would be in order (or in the Actress category, which I totally question).

What's so hard to believe about people liking Gardener more than A History of Violence?

(ps; this isn't an attack of Nat, that'd be silly, I'm not one of those lame anonymous people. This is all a stem from Hot Blog posters who despise Crash and can't fathom the thought that people DO like it and if you do indeed like it when they "seriously have to question their mental health" <-direct quote. That sorta stuff gets me so riled up.)


ugh. let's not get all hotbloggy in here though. That place is swarming with hate-speech and especially with right-wing drones (don't know exactly why but it sure is)

adam -you are right. I have no issues with people voting for CG really. I just don't much like it. Meirelles has a lot of style and the film is beautiful but the narrative is shallow. it's a much ado about nothing sorta film. The general concept and themes are intriguing and politically important to consider but I don't think the film is very brave in the end... and though it's a better film it reminds me of Road to Perdition in that. Yes it's exceptionally wonderful (production value wise) but... if films should be loved based on how expensive they look than Memoirs of a Geisha should be nominated, you know?

but that said I continue to think TCG has great moments and great performances. I just didn't like it as a "whole" film. if that makes sense. I'd rather see it nominated than CM.

but my point in bitching about BAFTA is not that they voted for TCG. It's that their votes so closely hew to expected Oscar results. The BAFTAs seem too desperate to be Oscar predictors (rather like BFCA) and I always hate that. It's getting rather strangely funny that the Golden Globes, who get dissed the most for integrity issues, prove themselves year in and year out to actually have opinions that don't seem totally Oscar-related. Even when said opinions suck.

My other main problem with BAFTA is that they don't believe in spreading the wealth. If they like a film, it gets nominated everywhere (witness Crash --even if you really like the film, I assume you can see the excess here) . I haven't done the math but I suspect it's pretty bad in divvying up the noms. Oscar occassionally does this to the point of nauseum (1998/ 2002) but it seems so common in BAFTA giving you the impression that their membership only watched 10 to 12 movies before voting.

Glenn Dunks said...

I did find the Crash nomination in Sound especially bizarre.

I get what you're saying, it's just that to me (who really despises the stuff I discussed before) it sounded like... well, what I discussed before.

But, I totally agree with you on the Globes. I quote directly from some guy called "shortround" at the Hot Blog (aka, hell) when talking about the opening song:

that song sums up the repulsiveness of celebrity worship and of this fawning, embarrassingly tacky awards show.

THAT sort of stuff really gets me. Like, are these people completely cynacle bitter bores like their comments sound? They also don't seem to like ANY movie whatsoever sometimes. Ugh. I hate that place... yet (much like crack) i can't leave.

adam k. said...

I just want to say that anyone who thinks Titanic was "a travesty" is an idiot, plain and simple. I'd like to see those people try to make a film that becomes the highest grossing film ever (by far), ties for the most oscar wins ever, and becomes a worldwide cultural phenomenon. Just try. Nothing in recent history, save the LOTR films, has even come close to Titanic and its phenomenon status. Even if you have issues with it, "Travesty" is the absolute last thing it should ever be called.

Also, I personally never got the impression of Nat being unduly mean to TCG.

He WAS however unduly mean to Finding Neverland last year ; )

Anonymous said...

NO "THE DESCENT"? Why? Because it's a horror film? Shame on them. It's probably the best British film of 2005.

Glenn Dunks said...

Nobody could be unduly mean Finding Neverland. That piece of crap was just horrible.

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