The Baftas this weekend, followed in a fortnight by the Oscars, mark the glitzy culmination of the film award season. Except there has been little glitz, and little box office to speak of. The absence of cinemas for much of the past pandemic-year has meant a sizeable number of the nominated films have yet to be seen by the UK audience. Nomadland may be an awards' front runner hotly tipped to win best film at both the Baftas and Oscars - its director, Chloe Zhao, is also favourite to win - but its streaming and cinematic release in the UK is not until after the Oscars.
Similarly The Father, starring Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins, is up for six Baftas but because of cinema closures until at least May 17, has yet to be seen in the UK.
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At least it means if all things go to schedule, our cinemas will be offering a bumper crop of backlogged films when they are back in business. But it also means awards shows, which have been losing viewers for the past few years, are going to have to work really hard to keep the public engaged, if the films that are being celebrated are not ones the viewers have had a chance to be invested in.
But the show must go on.
The hope is that we are by now used to seeing our nominees virtually, as they will be this weekend for the Bafta film awards, and will be split over two nights for the first time. There will be music performances - most notably Lesley Odom Jr and Corinne Bailey Rae duetting on A Change Is Gonna Come from the film One Night In Miami, and Celeste singing Hear My Voice from the best film nominee The Trial Of The Chicago 7.
The awards' presenters will for the most part be there in person. So who’s going to win? In truth, with a big rise in the number of films nominated across categories this year, following a massive overhaul of voting procedures by Bafta, not to mention changes in eligibility rules and membership numbers, the field is wide open.
There is diversity and variety, with the general consensus that this year the playing field is more level than ever before, with small, British Independent films set to do well. Having said that - someone’s got to win. Having seen all the nominated films, here are my predictions and favourites across some of the categories.
Promising Young Woman
The Trial Of The Chicago 7
Will win: Nomadland
My choice: Promising Young Woman - a powerful story, brilliantly played by Carey Mulligan, its themes very current - outstanding.
Calm With Horses
His House Limbo
Promising Young Woman
Will win: Rocks - wonderful, groundbreaking, a very special film, this category is I think the strongest its ever been this year. Every one of the contenders is truly impressive.
My choice: St Maud - this is my favourite film of the past year, stunning, inventive haunting, shocking. Lead Morfydd Clark is brilliant.
Bukky Bakray (Rocks)
Radha Blank (The 40-Year-Old Version)
Vanessa Kirby (Pieces Of A Woman)
Frances McDormand (Nomadland)
Wunmi Mosaku (His House)
Alfre Woodard (Clemency
Will win: Vanessa Kirby
My choice: Bukky Bakray, a true find.
Riz Ahmed (Sound Of Metal)
Anthony Hopkins (The Father)
Adarsh Gourav (The White Tiger)
Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round)
Tahar Rahim (The Mauritanian)
Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
Will win: Chadwick Boseman
My choice: Chadwick Boseman. For no other reason than he is simply outstanding in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Niamh Algar (Calm With Horses)
Kosar Ali (Rocks)
Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)
Dominique Fishback (Judas And The Black Messiah)
Ashley Madekwe (County Lines)
Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari)
Will win: Kosar Ali
My choice: Kosar Ali. The Rocks co-star is simply magnetic on screen, and gives one of the best performances this year.
Daniel Kaluuya (Judas And The Black Messiah)
Barry Keoghan (Calm With Horses)
Alan Kim (Minari)
Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night In Miami…)
Clarke Peters (Da 5 Bloods)
Paul Raci (Sound Of Metal)
Will win: Daniel Kaluuya
My choice: Daniel Kaluuya, great performance in a great film.
Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round)
Shannon Murphy (Babyteeth)
Lee Isaac Chung (Minari)
Chloé Zhao (Nomadland)
Jasmila Žbanić (Quo Vadis, Aida?)
Sarah Gavron (Rocks)
Will win: Chloe Zhao
My Choice: I would love to see Jasmila Žbanić win to see her extraordinary film Quo Vadis, Aida triumph this weekend - a film about the Srebrenica massacre everyone should watch. But it’s between Zhao and Sarah Gavron I think.