Anybody who saw Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner last year will remember Timothy Spall’s rumbling growl – and, if there was ever a day to use it, this is it. Today’s BAFTA nominations were all about surprises, not the usual suspects. And the omission of Mr Turner in the major categories was the biggest of the lot.
Not that the film was totally overlooked: it garnered four technical nods, the most significant of which was for Dick Pope’s cinematography, which stands a good chance of being translated into a statuette. But there was no Best Film nomination, no Best Actor (despite Spall winning the Palme d’Or) and not even a mention for Outstanding British Film. It was this last one that was so astonishing: Best Film and Best Actor are fiercely tight this year, so there was always a chance it would miss out, but for it not to be in the running for the British film award is gob-smacking. The list shows that British film making is in rude health – Pride and ’71 alongside the more obvious The Imitation Game and The Theory Of Everything – but for Paddington to make the cut and Mr Turner to be left out in the cold is beyond me. I loved Paddington, but a better film than Mike Leigh’s? I don’t think so.
More eyebrows were raised over Steve Carell’s nomination for Foxcatcher. Not for his inclusion per se, but the category. Carell’s performance as multi-millionaire John du Pont is in contention has earned him a number of other nominations – including the Golden Globes, which are handed out on Sunday – and they’re all for Best Actor. So BAFTA’s put him in the Supporting Actor category. Obvious, really. I’d love to see the explanation because there’s no doubt that his is the lead role. What it does do is toughen up the competition for the trophy. J K Simmons is still the front runner for his blistering turn in Whiplash, but he may have more of a fight on his hands. Of course, BAFTA does like to go its own way – remember Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto’s omission last year? – so maybe that’s behind it.
Crunching the numbers, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel came out in front with 11 nominations, Birdman and The Theory Of Everything got 10 apiece and The Imitation Game nine. So, it’s not going to be the Birdman/Boyhood face-off that everybody’s expecting from the Oscars, although both of them do feature in the Best Film and Best Director categories. Boyhood received a total of just five nods. And let’s not forget that a slew of nominations doesn’t necessarily mean a glut of awards. Just ask Steven Spielberg.
A couple of smaller films have found their way onto the list. Nick Cave documentary 20,000 Days On Earth didn’t get a nod for Outstanding British Debut, but it is up for Best Documentary, where it faces Oscar winner 20 Feet From Stardom and the more controversial Citizenfour. And Pawel Pawlikowski’s spellbinding Ida received two nominations – Film Not In The English Language and Cinematography. Amongst the other foreign language films in contention are Two Days, One Night and Leviathan. I’d hate to be in the judges’ shoes.
The BAFTA film awards are presented on Sunday, 8 February, and The Coops Review will be covering the winners. In the meantime, for the list of nominations, just go to the BAFTA website.