BAFTA Predictions

With most of the precursors tied up and in most cases, furthering the lead of the frontrunner in each category, the last curveball that could shake things up is the BAFTAs. Their proclivity for British films means British favourites like The Favourite may garner a push in some categories. Let’s take a look at the major ones, and my predictions for the upcoming BAFTAs this Sunday.

Predictions are ranked in order (too most likely)

Best Film

The BAFTAs offered 5 Best Film picks that look to be potentially the strongest 5 of the Best Picture lineup going forward. Roma is feeling more and more unstoppable, but the BAFTAs could give The Favourite a boost. PGA winner Green Book could land here as well, after all, the PGA win is still a very reliable indicator of broad support. BlackKklansman, which hasn’t really landed any major wins anywhere, will be a shock if it wins, as will A Star is Born.

Roma
The Favourite

Green Book

BlackKklansman

A Star is Born

Best British Film

This looks to be a contest between Bohemian Rhapsody and The Favourite, but I think The Favourite has it in the bag, unless it wins Best Film. Would be a welcome surprise if Stan & Ollie won, but the chance is slim against the aforementioned titans.

The Favourite

Bohemian Rhapsody

Stan & Ollie

You Were Never Really Here

Beast

McQueen

Best Direction
Alfonso Cuaron should clinch this quite easily. Maybe Yorgos Lanthimos takes it, if the Brits overwhelmingly love him and his film enough, perhaps Spike Lee finally wins a precursor, or by an even slimmer chance, Bradley Cooper takes home the prize compensatorily for the Oscar snub, but this really should be Cuaron’s.
Alfonse Cuaron, Roma

Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite

Spike Lee, BlackKklansman

Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born

Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War

Best Actor
BAFTAs matched Oscars 4 out of 5, with Brit Steve Coogan deservedly nabbing a nomination for Stan & Ollie. I think this should just add more steam to the Rami Malek train, and I doubt the Bryan Singer controversy will adversely affect the actor here. Christian Bale could definitely win here though, which would set up an Oscars deathmatch between the two, with Malek still having the edge due to SAG.
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Christian Bale, Vice

Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born

Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Steve Coogan, Stan & Ollie

Best Actress

BAFTAs threw a curveball by including Viola Davis into the mix, but it seems that’s all the recognition she’ll be receiving for her work in Widows, as it did not translate to an Oscar nod. Here, it’ll come down to Glenn Close and Olivia Colman, of whom the latter has yet to reap any major precursor awards despite being the critics favourite. Having won the BAFTA multiple times and simply being a beloved British actress is general, I think Colman could give Close a run for her money here, though either way, the Oscar should be Close’s.
Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Glenn Close, The Wife

Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born

Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Viola Davis, Widows


Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali was snubbed of even a nomination for his Oscar-winning performance in Moonlight at the BAFTAs two years ago, but should earn his first BAFTA this time around. This will be the last chance for presumed second place Richard E. Grant to get a boost that could make him a serious contender, and I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if he does win this. Still, it’s Ali’s to lose.

Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Richard E Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Adam Driver, BlackKklansman

Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy

Sam Rockwell, Vice

Best Supporting Actress

This category is, in essence, completely open. With Globes and Critics Choice winner (and presumed frontrunner) Regina King as well as SAG winner Emily Blunt a no-show here, any five of the nominees COULD potentially win. Just based on the performance of The Favourite nominee-wise, I’m inclined to predict Rachel Weisz for the win. An acclaimed British actress in an acclaimed British film who steals every scene she’s in? In a season this murky, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brit voters went with something familiar and recognize their homeground talent. Then again, she will split some votes with Emma Stone, which will open up the possibility of the other three actresses winning. I think Amy Adams is the presumed strongest contender here, but she hasn’t really won anything despite pundit predictions. Claire Foy and Margot Robbie could win a la Thandie Newton for Crash, with both not receiving an Oscar nod. Claire Foy in particular could surprise here, being a respected British actress with her first real breakout film role. 

Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Amy Adams, Vice

Emma Stone, The Favourite

Claire Foy, First Man

Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots

That concludes my predictions for the upcoming BAFTAs! Certainly, there is room for a lot of surprises at the BAFTAs, and for me, the actress categories are the most up in the air. I’m banking my nominations there largely on The Favourite being overwhelmingly popular with the Brits, though I could turn out to be completely wrong. If Roma wins Best Film here, it SHOULD seal the deal for it, as will a director win for Alfonso Cuaron.

Alita Battle Angel Thoughts/Review/Analysis

In a few words: Slick, Futuristic Fun
Pros: Solid worldbuilding, refreshing and  impressive action sequences, well-fleshed protagonist 

Cons: Sequel-dependent and thus underwhelming plot
Themes: Humanity, Class Division 
I went into Alita with the tempered expectations of one who’d read about the production troubles, middling early reviews and felt the general lack of enthusiasm for the film. Despite that, I chose to catch this on the “largest screen possible” as recommended by a number of critics, no less because James Cameron was involved in the project. 
Overall, it was worth the $22 I forked out for the most premium screen in my country. Alita felt to me a good, even great, but incomplete story. The visuals and action set pieces were easily the best I’ve seen in awhile, a refreshing change from the “I punch you, you punch me, explosions, explosion” blockbuster fare of late, specifically the successful superhero films that have come to define the blockbuster formula in recent years. Alita is the hack-and-slash manga adapted slickly and stunningly to live-action form that I never knew I needed to be truly wowed by CGI again. Just the main character herself in a marvel to behold; a more or less fully CGI-ed Rosa Salazar who feels so uncannily real amongst the other characters, realer still even, with a powerful and committed performance by the actress to boot. Around the start of the film, when we first see Alita, we’re zoomed into her face, and somehow, her “large anime eyes” that have been the talk of the film blend perfectly with the rest of her life-like features. Beyond the already impressive work on realising the protagonist, the action sequences are truly amazing. The first real sequence, a fight in an alleyway, blew me away. It felt like a scene from a hack-and-slash game only possible within the confines of animation, but somehow, the filmmakers bring in to stunning, crisp real life. Not only did that first fight scene bring out Alita’s sheer badassery, it also introduced the possibilities of cyborg battles as I’ve never really seen before, with a definite attention to skills with a blade (or multiple blades) and body combat skills, as opposed to the usual reliance on this-and-that gun or such-and-such weapon. The outlawing on guns of any kind in Iron City, which is the setting of most of the film, meant that the subsequent action scenes continued this thrilling mode of combat. It was definitely refreshing to not have fights come down to an explosion or a shot fired from a gun of some sort, which I feel is a formula so abused I’m almost dulled towards such scenes when they occur.

The performances, I felt, were good. With three Oscar winners in major supporting parts, I guess this shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise. Christoph Waltz was a believable father figure to Alita, Jennifer Connelly is nicely vicious and subsequently gives the movie some extra heart, while Mahershala Ali is a respectable villain. But of course, the main protagonist herself, Alita, is very well played. I found her to be a worthy comparison to Wonder Woman; she’s defined by her strength of will, bravery and importantly, her humanity. This makes for interesting analysis when we realise that she is a cyborg, yet her human qualities stand out in comparison to the human antagonists of the film, such as Vector, who is cold and ruthless in an almost mechanical way with his decisions. This perhaps offers commentary on the basis of what it means to be human; where one’s biological construct, in Alita’s case, a cyborg, but extended to the real world as a metaphor, should not confer onto them different standards of humanity.

Like Wonder Woman, the gender roles here are also flipped, with Keean Johnson playing Hugo, Alita’s sidekick and love interest who finds himself in the “damsel-in-distress” situation during a climactic sequence where Alita is the one rushing to save him. As he proclaims emphatically towards the end of a bar fight where Alita had been the one dealing out the punches, with Hugo watching her back, he’s “with her”, and not the reverse of “she’s with me”, a clear indication of Alita’s position of power in their relationship. Further it is made clear that she is physically superior to Hugo, with Hugo noting that she could easily disable him in a fight by “ripping out his arm and smacking (him) with the wet end”. 

Refreshing gender role reversal aside, I enjoyed the Alita-Hugo story, though I feel that the emotional heft of their final scene together was unintentionally lessened by the somewhat awkward CGI (don’t want to spoil it completely, but this was the one time I thought the CGI looked a little clunky).
The rest of the plot as a whole however, is where Alita’s issues arise. As I mentioned earlier, I found this to be a good but incomplete film. I say this because the film had set up many plot points early in the film, and then reinforced them throughout, which logically would make one expect that these plot points reach a resolution at the close of the film. One, for instance, is the character of Nova, established quickly as the main antagonist, when he literally assumes control of his subordinates minds, including Vector’s on multiple occasions. This set Vector up as a pawn, albeit a powerful one, from the start, which made his defeat towards the end of the film feel like the defeat of a powerful and significant but secondary antagonist – Gogo in Kill Bill comes to mind for some reason – which then leaves the feeling of unfulfillment when one realises that the character of Nova had been set up purely for a sequel. Even Alita’s identity in relation to her history is also left overly unresolved – who is Michelle Rodriguez’s character and what happened to her? Another is the floating city of Zalem – we never get a good look into it despite seemingly every character talking about making it to Zalem as a key motivation. I suppose this could have been commentary of social and class boundaries, and how and impossible blockages can form, leaving those below having no chance of of even glimpsing what it’s like on top. Indeed, when Hugo and Alita get close to ascending towards Zalem near the end, they are met with dire consequences. While I thought the physical construct of the city (with Zalem literally floating above the citizens of Iron City) was a nice metaphor for class divide, I still wished we had learned more about the city above. 
Essentially, the film leaves one feeling slightly cheated as the film comes to an end, as so many important plot points are seemingly saved for explanation in the sequel, and the only arc that really seemed to have a definite resolution was the Alita-Hugo one. What was shown in the film was good, but it felt like watching three quarters of a good movie, and then having the credits role with so many built-up things unaddressed. This pan-movie plot structure kind of brings to mind the disappointing Crimes of Grindelwald, which felt like the middle of a film with it’s lack of any real setup and resolution, merely being a filler for future installments. Of course, despite their somewhat similar and awkward structures, Alita was a good film, Crimes wasn’t. Yet it seems Crimes may yet get away with this sort of sequel-dependent plot structure, Alita may not. Because Alita really is asking for a sequel; the worldbuilding is solid and I was quickly immersed and invested in both the world and the fates of the characters. It would be a real waste if the story were left incomplete. 

With that in mind, I truly hope Alita performs well enough to warrant a sequel. It NEEDS the sequel to complete its story. Perhaps, if combined with a second film – which assumedly completes the plot – it could really be a great story and work of cinema, because plot-wise, it simply doesn’t work as a standalone film, with too many boxes left unchecked and viewers like me left needing more.
7.5/10

BAFTA Predictions

With most of the precursors tied up and in most cases, furthering the lead of the frontrunner in each category, the last curveball that could shake things up is the BAFTAs. Their proclivity for British films means British favourites like The Favourite may garner a push in some categories. Let’s take a look at the major ones, and my predictions for the upcoming BAFTAs this Sunday.
Best Film
The BAFTAs offered 5 Best Film picks that look to be potentially the strongest 5 of the Best Picture lineup going forward. Roma is feeling more and more unstoppable, but the BAFTAs could give The Favourite a boost. PGA winner Green Book could land here as well, after all, the PGA win is still a very reliable indicator of broad support. BlackKklansman, which hasn’t really landed any major wins anywhere, will be a shock if it wins, as will A Star is Born.
Roma

The Favourite

Green Book

BlackKklansman

A Star is Born
Best British Film
This looks to be a contest between Bohemian Rhapsody and The Favourite, but I think The Favourite has it in the bag, unless it wins Best Film. Would be a welcome surprise if Stan & Ollie won, but the chance is slim against the aforementioned titans.
The Favourite

Bohemian Rhapsody

Stan & Ollie

You Were Never Really Here

Beast

McQueen
Best Direction
Alfonso Cuaron should clinch this quite easily. Maybe Yorgos Lanthimos takes it, if the Brits overwhelmingly love him and his film enough, perhaps Spike Lee finally wins a precursor, or by an even slimmer chance, Bradley Cooper takes home the prize compensatorily for the Oscar snub, but this really should be Cuaron’s.
Alfonse Cuaron, Roma

Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite

Spike Lee, BlackKklansman

Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born

Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War
Best Actor
BAFTAs matched Oscars 4 out of 5, with Brit Steve Coogan deservedly nabbing a nomination for Stan & Ollie. I think this should just add more steam to the Rami Malek train, and I doubt the Bryan Singer controversy will adversely affect the actor here. Christian Bale could definitely win here though, which would set up an Oscars deathmatch between the two, with Malek still having the edge due to SAG.
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Christian Bale, Vice

Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born

Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Steve Coogan, Stan & Ollie
Best Actress
BAFTAs threw a curveball by including Viola Davis into the mix, but it seems that’s all the recognition she’ll be receiving for her work in Widows, as it did not translate to an Oscar nod. Here, it’ll come down to Glenn Close and Olivia Colman, of whom the latter has yet to reap any major precursor awards despite being the critics favourite. Having won the BAFTA multiple times and simply being a beloved British actress is general, I think Colman could give Close a run for her money here, though either way, the Oscar should be Close’s.
Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Glenn Close, The Wife

Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born

Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Viola Davis, Widows
Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali was snubbed of even a nomination for his Oscar-winning performance in Moonlight at the BAFTAs two years ago, but should earn his first BAFTA this time around. This will be the last chance for presumed second place Richard E. Grant to get a boost that could make him a serious contender, and I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if he does win this. Still, it’s Ali’s to lose.
Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Richard E Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Adam Driver, BlackKklansman

Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy

Sam Rockwell, Vice
Best Supporting Actress
This category is, in essence, completely open. With Globes and Critics Choice winner (and presumed frontrunner) Regina King as well as SAG winner Emily Blunt a no-show here, any five of the nominees COULD potentially win. Just based on the performance of The Favourite nominee-wise, I’m inclined to predict Rachel Weisz for the win. An acclaimed British actress in an acclaimed British film who steals every scene she’s in? In a season this murky, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brit voters went with something familiar and recognize their homeground talent. Then again, she will split some votes with Emma Stone, which will open up the possibility of the other three actresses winning. I think Amy Adams is the presumed strongest contender here, but she hasn’t really won anything despite pundit predictions. Claire Foy and Margot Robbie could win a la Thandie Newton for Crash, with both not receiving an Oscar nod. Claire Foy in particular could surprise here, being a respected British actress with her first real breakout film role. 
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Amy Adams, Vice

Emma Stone, The Favourite

Claire Foy, First Man

Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots
That concludes my predictions for the upcoming BAFTAs! Certainly, there is room for a lot of surprises at the BAFTAs, and for me, the actress categories are the most up in the air. I’m banking my nominations there largely on The Favourite being overwhelmingly popular with the Brits, though I could turn out to be completely wrong. If Roma wins Best Film here, it SHOULD seal the deal for it, as will a director win for Alfonso Cuaron.

A Very Preliminary Shot at Oscars 2020 – Sundance

  When it comes to film festivals, Sundance is one the most reliable prognosticators for the year’s Oscar race. Often, of the varied treasures up on offer, several gems stand out and manage the weather the full season and finish strong at the Oscars. Last year, Sundance gave us Get Out and Call Me By Your Name, and by extension, introduced us to Daniel Kaluuya and Timothee Chalamet, two actors who have broken out in a large way. 
Here, I’ll talk about some films which, on paper, either look to be contenders, or have a premise interesting enough that I’m excited to see already. A disclaimer that I, very sadly, have not seen any of these films, and am merely offering my immediate thoughts on these projects. I’m only listing a handful (because it’ll just be an almost full list of Sundance films otherwise!) that caught my attention.

Late Night
Possible nominations:

Best Original Screenplay
Best Actress – Mindy Kaling

Best Supporting Actress – Emma Thompson
Synopsis: A talk show host on the verge of losing her show hires in a female writer to help revitalize the program. (credit: Wikipedia)
I’ve enjoyed Mindy Kaling’s comedic work for a long time, and when I saw that she both starred in this film AND penned its screenplay, this became a must-see for me. The premise is interesting and certainly verbose with social commentary about diversity, a hot topic in film this year. Reviews reveal it to hit the right comedic tones and be an enjoyable watch, which tells me this could really score with the Globes in Comedy, and perhaps even at the Oscars. Think: The Big Sick, a feel-good, comedic film about clashing cultures that snagged an Original Screenplay nomination at the Oscars last year. If this lands, and attention is duly paid to it, I think Mindy Kaling could be the first Indian-American Actress to be nominated, let alone win a Golden Globe (film) Award in a very, very long time. Excited for this!
Read the Indiewire review here: https://www.indiewire.com/2019/01/late-night-review-mindy-kaling-emma-thompson-sundance-1202038404/
The Report
Possible Nominations
Best Picture

Best Director

Best Original/Adapted Screenplay

Best Actor – Adam Driver

Best Supporting Actress – Annette Bening

Best Supporting Actor – Jon Hamm
Synopsis: Senate staffer Daniel Jones is assigned the daunting task of leading an investigation into the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. After analyzing extensive evidence, he learns about their ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’—proven to be brutal, immoral, and ineffective—that the CIA adopted after 9/11. When Jones and the Senate Intelligence Committee attempt to release the results from his investigation, however, the CIA and White House go to great lengths to prevent the truth from getting out. (credit: Sundance)
This looks like typical Oscar fare, and with a (albeit early) score of 100% on RottenTomatoes and rave reviews to boot, I think this film will be a major player in this year’s Oscars. With Adam Driver finally being nominated for BlackKklansman this year, I don’t see attention at him stalling anytime soon. The Report may just be the vehicle for his first Lead Actor nom, which critics are calling a commanding performance. I think Annette Bening could be a major player especially after her perceived snub for 20th Century Women 2 years back. She’s also a veteran, and somewhat overdue. Of course, I have yet to see the film so this is all speculation on my part, but we have the word of the critics that it’s a solid performance. As with conspicuously political films, what this will have to weather is likely not time, but controversy. Seemingly a response to the much acclaimed but also highly controversial Zero Dark Thirty, I expect this film to be highly revelatory and I can’t wait to be educated.
Read the Indiewire review here: 

https://www.indiewire.com/2019/01/the-report-review-adam-driver-annette-bening-sundance-2019-1202038732/

Brittany Runs A Marathon
Possible Nominations:

Best Actress – Jillian Bell
Synopsis: A woman tries to overcomes her life problems and in the process takes part in the New York City Marathon.
Jillian Bell steals EVERY scene she’s in. In 22 Jump Street for example, she elevated the comedy of the film by playing one of the funniest villains in recent memory, and as with other films she’s been in, I wished only that she had more screen time. In Brittany Runs a Marathon, she FINALLY gets a leading role. Critics have lauded both its raucous comedy and emotional resonance, which speaks of an amazing film. I CAN’T WAIT. Here’s hoping she breaks out like Amy Schumer did with Trainwreck… but actually gets things right from there.
Read the Indiewire review here:

https://www.indiewire.com/2019/01/brittany-runs-a-marathon-review-jillian-bell-comedy-sundance-1202039442/
Luce
Possible Nominations:
Best Actress – Naomi Watts

Best Supporting Actress – Octavia Spencer
Synopsis: A married couple is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son, adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher threatens his status as an all-star student. (credit: IMdb)
A film that touches on issues of race and class, this well-reviewed film could make waves if its themes resonate with Oscar voters. Naomi Watts, who somehow still hasn’t won an Oscar, could be recognized for her performance, and Octavia Spencer is one of the most reliable bets for a Supporting nod if her film does well.
Read the Indiewire review here: 

https://www.indiewire.com/2019/01/luce-review-naomi-watts-octavia-spencer-sundance-1202038874/
The Souvenir
Possible nominations: 

Best Picture

Best Director – Joanna Hogg

Best Actress – Honor Swinton Byrne

Best Supporting Actress – Tilda Swinton
This film seems really, really interesting, and going by what critics are saying, seems really, really good. Just imagine the mother-daughter duo of Tilda Swinton and Honor Swinton Byrne in the Oscar race together. With the lack of female directors in this year’s line-up, perhaps Joanna Hogg could hold the torch next year.
Read the Indiewire review here: https://www.indiewire.com/2019/01/the-souvenir-review-sundance-2019-1202036960/
OTHER POSSIBILITIES:
Michelle Williams / Julianne Moore, After the Wedding

Chiwetel Ejiofor, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Oscar Nominations 2019 Analysis: Snubs, Surprises & the unstoppable Roma train

Oscar nominations have been announced at long last by the comical, sleep-starved duo of Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis Ross, and this year, snubs and surprises abound, with several in the major categories, which I will discuss. I will run through how my predictions, as you’ll find in earlier posts on this blog, fared, and what the Academy’s choice of nominees spells for the films in contention going forward.

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Oscar Nominations LIVE

5.26 Supporting Actress… Marina de Tavira gets in!! Seems like I might have somehow STILL underestimated the Roma sweep despite predicting Yalitza for Lead. Does this mean Yalitza is definitely in?

5.29 Supporting Actor… Sam Elliott… AND Sam Rockwell! The Timothee Chalamet snub actually happened! Should have gone with my earlier instincts.

5.41 Lead Actor… Willem Dafoe!! There goes 90% of predictions

5.42 Lead Actress… Yalitza!!! Roma is in such a good place right now

5.43 Director… Favourite AND Cold War

5.44 Picture… 8 nominees! No surprises here… but overall, SO many snubs and surprises to be discussed