The Academy has only gone and done a Colour Purple on us!
OK, that’s exaggerating a little bit. But amidst this year’s crop of surprisingly controversial BAFTA nominations, the decision to omit director Steven Spielberg from Lincoln’s mighty 10-strong haul is a strange one.
I write this not having yet seen Lincoln – it isn’t yet released in the UK. But Spielberg has drawn much acclaim for his understated and politically astute work on the film, one that reportedly refuses to treat Honest Abe as a Madam Tussauds waxwork but instead plugs us into the political complexities of his final months in office.
The other strange decision is Ben Affleck’s nom for Best Actor for Argo. Don’t get me wrong – Argo was my favourite film of 2012. But Affleck’s performance was arguably the least interesting part of it, his redemptive character arc proving less interesting than the so-ridiculous-it-must-be-true machinations surrounding it.
Other strange decisions: Seven Psychopaths in the Best British Film category (is it really all that British?) and the lack of a nomination for Aardman’s terrific stop-motion animation The Pirates, although the presence of Frankenweenie and Paranorman on the list just about makes up for it. Elsewhere, the lack of love for excellent British headtrip Berberian Sound Studio is galling, especially so when one considers that Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina received a British Film look-in. Did Wright’s film really deserve one? And finally, was Bradley Cooper that good in Silver Linings?
Thankfully there’s also plenty to be happy about. Dexter Fletcher has been nominated as director, alongside Danny King as writer, in the Outstanding Debut category for the brilliant Wild Bill. Documentaries is an especially strong haul this year with my vote going for either Searching for Sugar Man or McCullin, the excellent film about photographer Don McCullin. And David Magee has been nominated for Adapted Screenplay for his excellent work on Life of Pi (which, if there’s sense, will win the Special Effects BAFTA – in terms of using the effects in service of the story, it had no equals in 2012).
The Supporting Actor and Actress categories yield some nice rewards, with Javier Bardem and Judi Dench nominated in their respective fields for Skyfall (which, brilliantly, has also been recognised for Best British Film). Pleasingly Amy Adams has also been nominated for Supporting Actress for The Master, complementing the deserved recognition for Joaquin Phoenix (Actor) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Supporting Actor).
And what of the most important field: Best Picture? Again, given that several of the entries haven’t yet opened in the UK, it’s a level playing field. Will it be the crowd-pleasing musical Les Miserables, or Kathryn Bigelow’s dramatisation of the hunt for bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty? Will Lincoln triumph over Life of Pi, or will Argo sneak in? All eyes now look forward to the ceremony itself on February 10th.