After January’s muted Golden Globes ceremony signalled a dramatic fall from grace for the once esteemed awards body, the BAFTAs have firmly established themselves as the most important precursor to the Oscars race in any given year.
Not only do the British-awarded trophies now sit a comfortable second to any Academy Awards listed on the resumes, Wikipedia entries and obituaries of actors and filmmakers, but they also now represent the biggest indicator of where those Academy Awards will end up come the end of March.
Long story short: expect an Academy Awards ceremony on March 28 of few surprises. We’ll be discussing the outcome of the big four BAFTA trophies (Best Film, Best Director, Lead Actor and Lead Actress) and what this means for their respective Oscar equivalents below, but the tale of the tape has us anticipating headline wins for Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog and craft hauls for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune (Benedict Cumberbatch, though, doesn’t look likely to snag a long-awaited Best Actor Oscar).
The BAFTAs’ equivalent to Best Picture, Best Film, was awarded to Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog at the London ceremony – and it’d be a huge upset to see the Academy Award go anywhere else come March 28. The critically-acclaimed Netflix movie – which tells the story of a menacing rancher (Benedict Cumberbatch) who doesn’t take kindly to the arrival of his brother’s new wife (Kirsten Dunst) and her son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) – has been the odds-on favorite to take home Best Picture since the nominations were announced last month, with only Kenneth Brannagh’s Belfast nipping at its heels.
Brannagh may find some solace in the knowledge that the BAFTAs’ Best Film winner has been – prior to Nomadland last year – different to the eventual Best Picture winner for six years running, but Campion’s movie has all the momentum it needs to bag the double this year.
Unsurprisingly, the same is true of Jane Campion herself. Having taken home the BAFTA for Best Director, the New Zealand-born filmmaker is a shoo-in to pick up the same award at this year’s Oscars for her brilliant work on The Power of the Dog.
The other nominees in this category include the aforementioned Kenneth Branagh (for Belfast), Ryusuke Hamaguchi (for Drive My Car), Paul Thomas Anderson (for Licorice Pizza) and Steven Spielberg (for West Side Story), but not even the legendary status of the latter looks likely to cause an upset here.
Perhaps the biggest story to emerge from this year’s BAFTAs ceremony, Will Smith took home the Lead Actor trophy for his performance as Richard Williams in King Richard. Having already snagged several acting gongs on the awards circuit this year, Smith’s triumph wasn’t entirely unexpected – but it was thought that home field advantage may have favored The Power of the Dog’s Benedict Cumberbatch in this category.
As the psychologically troubled rancher Phil Burbank, Cumberbatch’s performance deserves as much recognition as Smith’s, though the latter’s triumph on both sides of the pond suggests Cumberbatch won’t be walking away with an Oscar this year.
For our money, the only one of the big four Oscars not to share the result of its BAFTA equivalent this year will be Best Actress – because, well, it’d be impossible to do so. In a rare occurrence, none of the six women nominated for the Lead Actress BAFTA (Licorice Pizza‘s Alana Haim, House of Gucci‘s Lady Gaga, CODA‘s Emilia Jones, The Worst Person in the World‘s Renate Reinsve and After Love‘s Joanna Scanlan) were nominated for an Oscar.
Scanlan took home the trophy on the night, but Kristen Stewart remains the favorite to win Best Actress at this year’s Academy Awards for her performance as Princess Diana in Pablo Larraín’s Spencer. Nicole Kidman, nominated for her work on Being the Ricardos, also has a shot at Oscars glory, as does the Eyes of Tammy Faye‘s Jessica Chastain. The Lost Daughter‘s Olivia Colman and Parallel Mothers’ Penelope Cruz make up the remaining five nominees – and in truth, any one of them deserves the trophy this year.
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Axel is a London-based Senior Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.
Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.