Bafflingly British BAFTAs Honor 'Argo,' 'Amour'
For many, the British Academy Awards, the BAFTAs, are simply harbingers of the Academy Awards, the proper awards, which are doled out in two weeks; but I'm kind of fascinated by the number of best pictures the Brits give out:
- Best Film
- Best Film Not in the English Language
- The Alexander Korda Award for Outstanding British Film of the Year
The last one, mostly. Imagine if the Academy gave out a best film and a best American film: say, the Louis B. Mayer Award for Outstanding American Film of the Year. It's inconceivable, really.
The BAFTAs actually began this way—Best Film from Any Source and Best British Film—way back in 1948, but it dropped Best British Film in 1968 when four of its last six Best Films were also Best British Films: “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Tom Jones,” “Dr. Strangelove,” and “A Man for All Seasons.”
At the 1983 awards ceremony, “Best Foreign Language Film” was introduced, and by the end of the decade the language was amended to the politically correct phrase currently used. The best British film award, now named for Alexander Korda, started up again for some reason in 1993.
Immediately it was a bit odd. “The Crying Game” won the Brit award that year while the best film went to “Howard's End,” which is monumentally British. The BAFTAs keep doing this. Here's a list of BAFTA Best Films that didn't also win the Alexander Korda award for Best British Film—even though they're supremely British:
- “Four Weddings and a Funeral”
- “Sense and Sensibility”
- “The English Patient”
- “The Full Monty”
- “Shakespeare in Love”
- “The Queen”
The movies that win Best British Film seem to be smaller films, indies (“Shallow Grave,” “Secrets & Lies,” “Elizabeth,” “This is England”), so maybe that's the distinction. But you can be nominated for both: “Les Miserables,” for example, was nominated in both categories this year.
It won neither, by the way. Here are the winners at the 2012 BAFTAs:
- Best Film Argo
- Best British Film Skyfall
- Best Film Not in the English Language Amour
- Best Director Ben Affleck, Argo
- Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
- Best Actress Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
- Best Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
- Best Supporting Actress Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
- Best Original Screenplay Django Unchained
- Best Adapted Screenplay Silver Linings Playbook
- Best Animated Film Brave
- Best Documentary Searching for Sugar Man
- Best Editing William Goldenberg, Argo
- Best Costume Design Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina
- Best Cinematography Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi
- Best Original Music Thomas Newman, Skyfall
- Best Visual Effects Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, Donald R. Elliott, Life of Pi
- Best Production Design Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson, Les Misérables
Don't get either screenplay award. Can't fault either lead actor award. Plus the Brits had the sense to nominate Marion Cotillard.
As for harbinger? BAFTA's best picture has been the Academy's best picture for the last four years (“The Artist,” “The King's Speech,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Slumdog Millionaire”) but disagreed the previous four. So who knows? Even so, another win for “Argo,” my ninth-favorite movie of 2012.
How do you like me now, Academy?