Monday, 9 February 2015

Reflections on yesterday's British Film Awards (BAFTAs)

There are only two evenings annually when I purposely stay up beyond about 9.30 p.m. One is for the 'Eurovision Song Contest', the other - well, here are a few apercus on last night's BAFTA awards:-

Nothing to violently disagree with, really, though I suppose the single thing that rankled a bit was Steve Carrell not being recognised as 'Best Supporting Actor' for his astonishing turn in 'Foxcatcher' - mesmerisingly creepy and totally outside what we'd thought had been his 'comfort zone' - showing of what a wide range he's capable. Not that I thought J.K.Simmons didn't deserve it for his scary-bully tyrant of a music tutor. He too was amazing. It was just a pity that there couldn't have been two awards for this category. If I'd had to choose between the two of them I'd have given it to Carrell.

'Still Alice' hasn't opened here yet, though I was pleased to see Julianne Moore, one of my very favourite screen stars in the entire world, picking up the award as 'Best Actress' (in revealing, cleavage-exposing red dress). She's never given a poor performance, always totally committed and believable, and there's no reason to think why she isn't so in this latest film too.

I can't argue with 'Boyhood' getting 'Best Picture'. It was, after all, top of my 2014 list. Fairly satisfied with Richard Linklater getting 'Best Director', having taken such a risk in creating a product which took twelve years to make, and at the end of that period, producing such an exceptionally fine work out of what might have been thought unpromising material.
Patricia Arquette picking up 'Best Supporting Actress' was fair enough. I think the only serious competition she had was in Rene Russo ('Nightcrawler') and Emma Stone ('Birdman')

Eddie Redmayne had to be the right choice for 'Best Actor', though I did fear that Michael Keaton might actually pip him to it, which would not have been such a earth-shattering travesty. However, Redmayne's portrayal of Stephen Hawking was beyond uncanny.
Bit surprised that 'The Theory of Everything' picked up so many awards in total and that 'The Imitation Game' won none at all. I thought the latter was the better film. Even though we knew the destination each of them would end up at - the first being the predictable, though tragic and harrowing, decline in physical capabilities of the subject, while 'Imitation' followed a much more sinuous and interesting path.

And all those awards for 'Grand Budapest Hotel'? Well it was, admittedly, ravishing to look at and has some clever and witty lines, but I found the whole experience bordering on the vacuous.

Great to have seen Mike Leigh being recognised with a BAFTA Fellowship award which, if you ask me, is long overdue. The close of his overlong acceptance speech was well worth waiting for.

And whose idea was it to have the show opened by group 'Kasabian' with their song 'Stevie'? I didn't think they were anywhere near distinctive enough, nor special, nor even appropriate enough, to occupy this most coveted of spots .

Eyebrows have been raised that the film 'Selma' wasn't nominated for anything at all. Even if it wasn't to win anything it's difficult to credit its being totally ignored in all categories. At the very least one would have thought that David Oyelowo would have been nominated for 'Best Actor'. A nod as a nominee would have been expected for this most notable of film roles - it has 'award' written all over it - and his name not being put forward seems to imply that there was something unsatisfactory with his acting, which, from what I gather, is absolutely not the case - quite the reverse, in fact. Very curious. (I hope to be seeing the film myself  later this week). (Since writing this para I've read that 'Selma's' exclusion from nominations was because it was released too late to qualify this year. It was released in this country only last week. However, 'Still Alice' still hasn't been released here at all, yet was included - and won an award  for Julianne Moore! So does inclusion for a British award nomination have to be dependent on American release dates? Search me! But in any case I see that I've got to eat my words and apologise, which I now do.)

In the section where we are reminded of those who have died over the last year there was a conspicuous omission that I noticed while it was going on - Bob Hoskins, who died last April. I hear that it was an inadvertent error, his intended mention being lost in the evening's planning. Still, it was an unfortunate slight to a readily recognisable British actor of multiple film appearances.

Stephen Fry, on his tenth appearance as 'emcee ' held it all together with panache and some comments which were well off the 'risque' scale, but it all seemed to work well.  Just 3 weeks married, he's been the subject of much tut-tutting from our tabloid press for now having a husband who is 30 years his junior - naturally, those being the very same newspapers which opposed equal marriage.
Many flirtatious comments from Fry, and two full-on kisses from Cuba Gooding Jnr (amongst others of both sexes) - and you couldn't help but applaud his downright cheeky introduction of the final guest award presenter - "It's Tom Fucking Cruise!"

Gotta go now -  to see a film!


  1. So what did you think of Serge and his "black tie and tails" outfit? Admittedly, since I'm in the US and only pick up bits and pieces here and there, I thought it was hysterical. But I'm sure there were plenty who didn't see it that way!

    1. It was certainly unexpected, S.J., though I suppose it was good enough reason to lodge the group's little act in the memory, otherwise it would have been forgotten even quicker.

  2. I really liked the 'Grand Budapest Hotel' but as soon as you said it was vacuous, I thought, 'Yeah, it was.'

    1. I have to admit that I did like the look of 'Hotel' a lot, Bob, but it was such an insubstantial film in all. I look on it as a missed opportunity for something of note, though I WOULD like to see it again to see if my original opinion is maintained.

  3. Ray,
    I haven't seen any of these movies. What is the matter with me?

    1. Answer: nothing at all, Ron. It's really of most interest to regular cinema-goers who've seen enough recent films to be able to compare one with another. You may, however, take away a few good clues as to what is likely to be a profitable watch for you - and, pleased to say that, for the most part, this year they've tended to agree with my own views as posted in my reviews.

  4. Interesting that Carrell was nominated in the Supporting Actor category for BAFTA but in the lead actor category for the Oscars, where the competition is even stronger.

    I am surprised to hear Selma was not more recognized since so many of the participants were UK natives. It was nominated for very little in the Oscars though history might suggest it has a decent shot at Best Picture as voters try to prove they aren't racists after giving it so few nominations.

    1. I inserted an italic note above re 'Selma', H.K., which may explain its not being nominated - perhaps since you first read my comment. If it's correct then it must be a cert for the 2016 awards for at least something.

      I hope Carrell picks up something at the Oscars, even if competition is so strong - though my preference is still for Redmayne even though it's pretty odds-on that Keaton will pick it up.

      The difference between 'leading' and 'supporting' actor is a fine one. I would have thought that Tatum would be the main star of 'Foxcatcher' just because he has a bit more screen time (but not by much). But his is not the role that is remembered, it being an underplayed one.

  5. Thanks for the clarification re: eligibility for Selma.

    I still have not seen Foxcatcher so I cannot speak the to category issue. Tatum has more screen time. I believe the screenplay is based on a book by the Mark Ruffalo character. It's nice to hear you thought Carrell was good but I fear he is a long shot behind Keaton, Redmayne and Cumberbatch and Cooper.

    1. I did think Carrell was REALLY good in 'Foxcatcher', H.K. So much so that I've been feeling guilty at being so mean on my assessment of the film as a whole, that having been my reaction a couple of hours after seeing it. Now, in my memory I think the film deserves a '7' at the very least. maybe even higher.

      I've always had doubts about Cumberbatch as an actor generally. He always seems to hold back on emoting and in 'The Imitation Game' it was another of those where he plays someone struggling on the inside and trying not to let it show. I think the three you mention have displayed a far greater range. However, I still so much want our very own Eddie to win.