Let’s do a quick run-down of the 2023 EE BAFTA nominations, just published today. Like the Golden Globes, BAFTA have had plenty of issues of late, with whiter-than-white, male-dominated shortlists and the bruising debacle of awarding and then cancelling a lifetime achievement award to Noel Clarke. The films are viewed at publicist-organised screenings, or at home via the BAFTA View player, trying to ensure a level playing field for all, although quite a burden if you’re trying to catch as many of the 220 entered films before the voting portal closes.
BAFTA usually has a bias towards British and European cinema, although US blockbusters generally do find an appeal. So there’s not much to cheer for Avatar 2, Babylon, Top Gun: Maverick and other films likely to show up elsewhere, the 2022/3 selection are a fairly tightly bunched affair. The most nominations go to All Quiet on the Western Front, but few of them are likely to be realised since Netflix productions generally sit poorly with voting members when it comes to the crunch. Three awards season favourites scored big, The Banshees of Innisherin, Everything, Everywhere All At Once and Elvis all scored big, with best film nominations and a slew of acting hits. The most contented category is likely to be best actor, where Bill Nighy’s austere turn in Living, Austin Butler as Elvis and popular candidate Brendan Fraser’s physical transformation in The Whale provide stern opposition. Tar also performed well with a best pic nomination, with Cate Blanchett’s remarkable performance likely to be a stick-on for a prize.
Also worthy noms include Danielle Deadwyler for Till and Viola Davis for The Woman King, while Kelly Condon (for Banshees) Emma Thompson (For Good Luck to You Leo Grande) and Carey Mulligan (for She Said) reflect a little bias towards home-grown talent. Jamie Lee Curtis might be a good shout for supporting actress for her wild turn in Everything, Everywhere, while Brendan Gleeson’s relegation to supporting actor for Banshees might well snare him a gong.
There’s also some rewards for some smaller films; See How They Run and Matilda: The Musical snag Best British Film noms alongside the critically fawned over Aftersun, excellent doc Electric Malady wins an unexpected dark horse victory, while Decision to Leave snares a deserved best director nom. All in all, it’s a stronger field than any year since Covid struck, and even though too many of these films didn’t firmly connect with audiences on release, awards are still a worthwhile if not essential way of communicating what’s worth seeing to a rather hesitant audience.