They Shoot Oscar Prognosticators, Don't They?

The Writing and Acting Races

By J. Don Birnam

February 16, 2016

Whatever Brick Tamland did this time, it must be really bad.

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We enter the final two weeks of this year’s unpredictable Oscar season fresh off the heels of another Revenant win. This time, the British Academy (BAFTA), awarded the film five awards, including Best Feature and Director. This, coupled with the momentum from the DGA win last week, give The Revenant gas at precisely the right time: Oscar voting began last Friday and will continue onto next week. It could be that the Best Picture race is officially over. We will talk about that next week. Today, we focus on four categories that appear to be mortal locks at the Oscars.

The handicap of the technical races is here and here. I talked about the shorts here, and the other feature films, in this post.

BAFTA Adds to Revenant’s Momentum.

The BAFTA did not always have the relevance it has today, despite the fact that 500 or so of its members are also members of the Academy. But, in recent years, they moved the date of their show to be before the Oscars and have adapted the same voting patterns as the Oscars except for the Best Picture preferential ballot. It is thus that BAFTA had correctly picked the eventual Best Picture six years in a row until, notably, last year. It has also gone on to correctly forecast eventual Oscar winners in tight races, from Meryl Streep over Viola Davis, to Sean Penn over Mickey Rourke. Even in technical races, picks like Whiplash for Editing and Sound turned into eventual wins at the Oscars.


So, it is not surprising that some of its picks on Sunday raised eyebrows. Mad Max had a mini-technical sweep over The Revenant, winning even costumes and make-up, two awards I expect to go to other movies at the Oscars. The Revenant, meanwhile, won Sound, one I have Mad Max winning. And so on. It’s just that kind of year.

Does BAFTA really mean that much this year? The Globes went for the Revenant as a way to catch up on Birdman’s win last year. Given that BAFTA also went for Boyhood last year, it is possible that they too are playing catchup to Alejandro González Iñárritu. Still, it is perilous to ignore that The Revenant leads the Oscar nominations, won the DGA, and has now won BAFTA. I have no choice for the moment but to move the movie up to the number one slot. Here are updated Best Picture standings.

In other BAFTA races, Kate Winslet won supporting (but Alicia Vikander was nominated in lead). I still think Vikander is ahead to win the Oscar, but it is obvious that Kate is going to give her a run for her money. Mark Rylance finally won an award, defeating Idris Elba (Stallone was not nominated). It is hard to ignore that the one time they faced off, at the Globes, Stallone defeated Rylance, but I think the BAFTA win gives him the legitimacy he needs to be an alternative to Stallone.

Here are updated best supporting actor and best supporting actress power rankings, which we will look at in with more depth in our next post.

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