Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln predictably leads the way in this year’s Bafta nomination list with 10 nods, with Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Skyfall and Argo crowding in behind. A surprise awards contender, perhaps, given its cool critical reception, is Joe Wright’s version of Anna Karenina with six nominations.
Lincoln is an awards-season movie through and through – that brooding poster image of Daniel Day-Lewis’s president in profile, lost in thought, dealing with the burdens of history and command, hammers home the sheer granite importance of what is being dramatised. Academy voters know that this is a film they can support in good faith. In its way, Ben Affleck’s suspense thriller Argo, about the 1979 hostage crisis, is every bit as fiercely patriotic and it is now poised to become the wild card success of this year’s awards season. Both these films hit the right buttons for Washington/Hollywood liberalism. The same cannot be said for Kathryn Bigelow’s nailbiter Zero Dark Thirty – with five Bafta nominations – about the campaign to catch Osama bin Laden, which has accrued controversy about its depiction of torture.
Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, based on the Yann Martel novel, with its sensational image of a man and a tiger on a lifeboat, has nine nominations in all, including entries for best film, best adapted screenplay and best director – as well as nods for best cinematography, best production design and best visual effects. Here I find myself utterly out of step with most critical opinion, and in all probability with the awards season consensus. It certainly deserves those technical awards, and I shall get to my feet and applaud as it gets best visual effects, when it will surely be one of the most deserving winners in Bafta history. But the actual meat of the film itself – its story and ideas – I found disappointingly vacuous.
Filmgoing patriots will be annoyed to see that Skyfall and Les Misérables have made it into the best British film list but not best film, but they have been substantially recognised nonetheless, and they have been hugely successful British movies. Skyfall was a phenomenal commercial and cultural hit, but the Bond franchise is never an awards favourite, and Bafta voters may feel self-conscious about supporting it. Les Misérables may get a fair few prizes – an award for Hugh Jackman as best actor is not an impossibility, although his chances are vanishingly small as he is up against Daniel Day-Lewis. Jackman gives an excellent performance, though, and in any other year, he would be an odds-on favourite, and the film itself is a unique and in its way remarkable spectacle.
As ever, British independent cinema is suffering, perhaps from its inability to mobilise anything comparable to the studios’ formidable marketing campaigns with their screener-disc mailouts. Ben Wheatley may be disappointed not to get a nod for Sightseers in the British film categories, and the same goes for Peter Strickland with his haunting Berberian Sound Studio. However, Dexter Fletcher and writer Danny King get very well deserved nominations for Wild Bill in the outstanding debut category.
Bafta has in recent years made a “Cinderella” gesture to a little-noticed film in its nominations; last year it was the microbudget comedy Black Pond, and this time it is Tina Gharavi’s I Am Nasrine in the outstanding debut category, a British independent movie which was released in the north-east, not London, about an Iranian brother and sister coming to terms with life as asylum seekers in Britain in the months after 9/11.
For the two big “studio-indies” produced by Harvey Weinstein – The Master and Django Unchained – there is reasonably good news, with four and five nominations respectively. Paul Thomas Anderson’s superb study of a cult leader loosely based on L Ron Hubbard was notably unrewarded in the best film and best director categories this morning, though its male leads have nominations in the best actor and best supporting actor categories and Amy Adams has a best supporting actress entry. There is no best film nod for Quentin Tarantino’s delirious and brilliant Django Unchained, although he is in with a shout for best director, best original screenplay and Christoph Waltz has a supporting actor nod. However, I have a strong and sinking feeling that these two brilliant movies are going to melt away in both the Baftas and the Academy Awards as their various voters opt for the big frontrunners such as Lincoln, and Academy voters may well decide that this film offers a more reassuringly respectable view of slavery and the civil war than the provocative and satirical Django Unchained.
Michael Haneke’s Amour continues its remarkable triumphal progress away from the world cinema festival circuit and towards the Anglo-American awards jamboree, with nominations for director, leading actress and foreign language film.
The Bafta list is notable, incidentally, for the way it has lavished praise on this year’s very strong crop of documentaries. Bart Layton’s The Imposter about a missing-person mystery and Jacqui Morris’s McCullin, a study of the great war photographer, have two nominations each, in the documentary and outstanding debut category.
So the stage is set, in both London and Los Angeles, for a rah-rah celebration of America and American history in Lincoln. I can’t imagine many bookmakers will want to accept any more bets on Daniel Day-Lewis for best actor. The combined mystique of Lincoln and Day-Lewis – a dual gold-standard of mainstream quality – may be impossible to resist.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Seit 1996 bin ich freier Mitarbeiter der Salzgitter-Zeitung, als Experte für das Geschehen im hiesigen Kreisfußball. Daneben sind meine Kolumnen seit 2005 fester Bestandteil im Lokalteil der Salzgitter-Zeitung. Zusammen mit Frau und Tochter sowie zwei gefräßigen wie faulen Stubentigern versuche ich das zu meistern, was das Leben, das Universum und der ganze Rest an Absurditäten für uns bereithalten.