Thoroughly reformed, the ceremony, which takes place over two nights Saturday and Sunday, will give birth to a prize list open as ever to diversity and completely freed from Hollywood. An example to follow ?
Long treated as unimaginative followers of Hollywood and its glamorous Oscars, the Bafta – the British equivalent of the Caesars – are preparing to experience a historic weekend. Not just because the pandemic forces the gala to go without the red carpet, to be held in part virtually between London and Los Angeles over two nights. Saturday will be announced the winners of all technical categories (sound, sets, costumes) and Sunday will come the turn of more prestigious trophies, where social dramas Nomadland by Chloe Zhao and Rocks by Sarah Gavron are favorites. French cinephiles will be able to follow the gala on Sundays from 8 p.m. on Canal + Cinéma.
Whatever happens, the Bafta will give birth to an unprecedented track record in its openness to diversity. It will be completely independent from that of the Oscars of April 25, with a list of nominations already very original. Like the Oscars, the Bafta have experienced their “Baftasowhite” controversy. Last year, no talent from diversity was mentioned in the performance categories. Ditto for the directors: none had been selected. Summoned to reform, the Bafta did so with an energy that surprised and which produced much more radical results than elsewhere, including the Oscars which increased their electoral body by several thousand voters over the past six years.
A list of films you must watch to vote
In one year, the Bafta have reviewed the process of preselection of nominations, voting and campaigning and have invited a thousand additional cinema professionals. Concretely, each voter was sent a list of compulsory films to see before being able to designate the nominations. The control was done via the official viewing platform. The categories have gone from five to six slots. In fact, 50 films have had at least one nomination this year, against 39 in 2020. The coronavirus leading to the withdrawal of blockbusters, this has also benefited independent films which have had better visibility. Of the 24 nominations for the best leading and supporting roles, 21 are for actors and actresses who had never been selected for the Bafta. Sixteen of them come from diversity.
Like Carey Mulligan who shines in vengeful satire Promising Young Woman, several stars of weight have been left behind in favor of young shoots. Exit the national treasure Olivia Colman (The father), Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried (Mank), Sacha Baron Cohen (Chicago Seven), Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Blues). Total Beresina for the headliners of the poetic Ammonite by Francis Lee, Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. As for the mutineer Anya Taylor-Joy in Emma. On the other hand, welcome to Niamh Algar (Calm With Horses), Kosar Ali (Rocks), Dominique Fishback (Judas And The Black Messiah), Ashley Madekwe (County Lines), Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari), Bukky Bakray (Rocks) or Radha Blank (The Forty-Year-Old Version).
These 2021 nominations also caused a stir with its best achievement category. Four of the six nominated filmmakers are women. Never seen. Until now, at best a survivor sometimes pardoned this category. And none for ten years! Symbol of this revolution, seven record nominations were won by Nomadland by Chloe Zhao and Rocks by Sarah Gavron. Follow Mank, Promising Young Woman, The father and Minari on the installation of a South Korean family in Arkansas with six quotes. Then The Dig and Designated guilty with five.
The acclaimed female directors
Grand winner of the Golden Globes, awarded in Venice and Toronto, Nomadland is a hymn to the glory of modern hippies traveling the United States in their pickup trucks. Rocks follows a 15-year-old London girl abandoned like her younger brother by her mother but supported by her group of friends. They will face each other to win the king trophy for best film The father where Anthony Hopkins plays an old man sinking into dementia, Designated guilty, about a fierce lawyer defending a Mauritanian falsely accused of terrorism by the United States, the feminist thriller Promising Young Woman and the political drama Chicago Seven.
In the best direction section, Chloe Zhao and Sarah Gavron are joined by Shannon Murphy (Babyteeth) and Jasmila Žbanić ( Quo Vadis, Aida?). The women’s quartet will face Thomas Vinterberg (Drunk) and Lee isaac chung (Minari). Two directors in the minority. And not the most anticipated. David Fincher (Mank) and Aaron Sorkin (Chicago Seven) are conspicuous by their absence. The Bafta did not necessarily favor “house” talents. Whooping cough across the Atlantic with its caustic and vengeful Promising Young Woman, Emerald Fennell fails, like his star actress, to break through.
Three feature films landed more nominations than expected and appear to be popular with voters: The father by Florian Zeller, inspired by his play, Designated Guilty with the French Tahar Rahim and Drunk of the Danish Thomas Vinterberg where Mads Mikkelsen shines. Mikkelsen and Rahim will try to wrest the title of best actor from the late Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Blues), Anthony Hopkins (The father), Riz Ahmed (Sound Of Metal) Adarsh Gourav (The White Tiger). In actresses, the statuette will be played between Vanessa Kirby (Pieces Of A Woman), Bukky Bakray (Rocks), Radha Blank (The Forty-Year-Old Version), Frances McDormand (Nomadland) Wunmi Mosaku (His House) and Alfre Woodard (Clemency).
A host of stars
To celebrate the winners, the Bafta have called together a host of stars to present the trophies for Sunday’s gala: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, the show’s revelation The Bridgertons Chronicle Phoebe Dynevor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Cynthia Erivo, Hugh Grant, Tom Hiddleston, Felicity Jones, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, James McAvoy, David Oyelowo of 12 Years A Slave, Pedro Pascal from Mandalorian and Jonathan Pryce. They will be assisted from Los Angeles by actresses Rose Byrne, Andra Day, Anna Kendrick and Renée Zellweger. Several musical numbers are on the program, including one by ex One Direction Liam Payne. The director of Reason and Feelings and Brokeback Mountain Ang Lee will receive a Lifetime Achievement Statuette.
Patron of the Bafta, Prince William was to intervene on Saturday and Sunday but it is not known whether the commitment, announced before the death of his grandfather Prince Philip, will be maintained.