What’s wrong with BAFTA?

18 Jan

With the nauseatingly inevitable damp squib that was The Golden Globes boring us all to tears over the weekend, the awards season is most definitely now in full swing.

This week though marks  the turn of the Brits to have their say, or to at least announce their nomination shortlists as both BAFTA and the Evening Standard did yesterday.

The BAFTA noms inspired a fairly vitriolic backlash in the Twittersphere, initially leveled at the “disgraceful” omission of Olivia Coleman from the Leading Actress category.  It took the interwebs a good half an hour, deliciously interspersed with many a cutting mustard pun, to realise that it was in fact Olivia Colman who had received said snub.

So, when the Evening Standard duly righted BAFTA’s wrongs within a matter of hours by recognising Colman’s turn inTyrannosaur , it seems fitting to take a passing glance over where else BAFTA might have got it wrong and how the Standard deigned to make amends.

Kudos must go to BAFTA for including the really quite superb Senna in the Outstanding British Film category.   Naturally it won’t win, but as the best film I saw last year it deserves its place.  It must however be a shoo-in for Best Documentary.

Shame, Tinker Tailor, Soldier Spy and the tedious We Need to Talk About Kevin all received nods from both BAFTA and the Standard, with My Week With Marilyn rounding out BAFTA’s list and the Standard plumping for the little seen Archipelago.

My Week With Marilyn is punching above its weight and the Standard are probably right in shortlisting Tyrannosaur in its place.  In all likelihood Tinker will take the accolades even though Shame is the more deserving picture, which is far too niche and challenging for this category.

The main issue with BAFTA lies in the fact that in order to be taken seriously on the international stage they had to shift their ceremony into a pre-Oscars slot in 2001.  This diluted the significant autonomy that it enjoyed before, as BAFTA invariably feel now that they have to recognise Oscar favourites alongside less conventional choices.

Effectively, by courting the international audience, BAFTA have lost a degree of their Britishness, which is why the likes of Tyrannosaur, Submarine and Kill List are so brazenly overlooked in the major categories.

The Standard have no such concerns as its noms are exclusively British and as such have more focus and cohesion.  This approach means that the likes of the excellent Carol Morley doc Dreams of a Life and Weekend get the recognition they undoubtedly deserve.

BAFTA meanwhile seem stuck in a halfway house, doffing their cap to the awards darlings, particularly The Artist and The Descendants, whilst struggling to find room for some of the more deserving British performances of the year, with Steve McQueen and the aforementioned Olivia Colman  immediately springing to mind.

Instead, BAFTA opt for British films that have a chance of international (see US) success, which explains the Tinker Tailor and Kevin love.

Here’s hoping for a more audacious BAFTA shortlist in 2013.


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