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BAFTAs 2018 – Final predictions for the UK’s biggest film awards ceremony – The Popcorn Muncher

BAFTAs 2018 – Final predictions for the UK’s biggest film awards ceremony

The headquarters of BAFTA in London
The headquarters of BAFTA in London (Photo: Live4Soccer68)

The great and powerful of the British film industry will descend upon the Royal Albert Hall this morning for the 71st annual BAFTAs. It’s a mixed crop of contenders, combining as usual the major contenders for the Oscars with a smattering of British movies that deserve their time in the spotlight – step forward, Paddington 2. Oscar frontrunners The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri will be in attendance, but this could be a better night for movies like Dunkirk and Phantom Thread, which currently lack the same kind of momentum en route to the big show.

The BAFTA ceremony is due to air on BBC One from 9pm, with new host Joanna Lumley taking the reins. It’s not airing live, so the results will come in on Twitter way before then. In the meantime, here are my picks for the winners in all of the main categories…

 

Best Film

James D'Arcy and Kenneth Branagh in Dunkirk
James D’Arcy and Kenneth Branagh in Dunkirk

Nominees: Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

There’s a cigarette paper between the two leading horses in the Oscar race, so it feels as if that vote may be split almost 50-50. That leaves the race clear for a patriotic victory for Dunkirk, which is such a towering cinematic achievement that a BAFTA victory is probably the victory that it deserves. It’s unlikely to triumph on Oscar night, but the British backdrop of the BAFTAs 2018 will reward its own brightest awards season prospect with its biggest award.

 

Best Director

Fionn Whitehead plays a soldier stranded on a French beach in Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk
Fionn Whitehead plays a soldier stranded on a French beach in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk

Nominees: Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049), Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

The Oscar for Best Director is already having Guillermo del Toro‘s name etched on it, given he’s almost a dead cert for victory at this point, and deservingly so. With that said, a contender who has been largely absent from the precursor director awards is Christopher Nolan, despite the most impressive element of Dunkirk being its wildly ambitious direction. Denis Villeneuve is a real head-scratcher of a nomination here, so he’s out of the question. This feels like it’s there for Christopher Nolan to lose.

 

Best Actor

Gary Oldman stars as wartime leader Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour
Gary Oldman stars as wartime leader Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour

Nominees: Jamie Bell (Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool), Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name), Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)

The obvious signs point to this category providing BAFTA with its opportunity to recognise the other big British awards season contender, Darkest Hour. However, much of this depends upon how much BAFTA enjoyed Phantom Thread. If the movie proves to be a big favourite among this crowd, then Daniel Day-Lewis could be the victor here. The smart money, though, is on this being the most predictable victory of the night and going to Gary Oldman. Indeed, it’s the main chance for BAFTA and the Academy to line up their choices.

 

Best Supporting Actor

Hugh Grant as the devilish Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2
Hugh Grant as the devilish Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2

Nominees: Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project), Hugh Grant (Paddington 2), Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World), Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

This is one of the night’s tougher awards to predict. Precursor awards have seen the pendulum swing between Sam Rockwell‘s very divisive work in Three Billboards and Willem Dafoe‘s more universally liked work, which has only suffered as a result of the general lack of momentum for The Florida Project throughout the awards season. Every fibre of my brain suggests this award will go to one of those two men, probably Rockwell, but every fibre of my heart suggests that the same groundswell of love that carried Hugh Grant‘s caddish, campy villain in Paddington 2 to a nomination will also carry him to victory. That would be exactly what the BAFTAs are there to do.

 

Best Actress

Frances McDormand stars in black comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Frances McDormand stars in black comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Nominees: Annette Bening (Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)

Just as with the leading male category, this feels like a scenario where the BAFTAs 2018 are likely to line up very neatly with the Oscars. It’s tough to see any winner on this shortlist that isn’t Frances McDormand, who simply catches fire in Three Billboards. That said, though, at almost every awards event this year, the strongest shortlist has been in the Best Actress category, which is uncommonly packed with depth.

 

Best Supporting Actress

Lesley Manville in beguiling drama Phantom Thread
Lesley Manville in beguiling drama Phantom Thread

Nominees: Allison Janney (I, Tonya), Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread), Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird), Kristin Scott Thomas (Darkest Hour), Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)

For most of the awards race thus far, Best Supporting Actress has been a two-horse race between Allison Janney and Laurie Metcalf, with Janney ahead by a nose. However, recent weeks have seen the emergence of Lesley Manville as a real contender, with her more than holding her own in direct competition against Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread. As with Best Picture, the closeness of the two established contenders will likely see the British vote come through and hand Lesley Manville the victory.

 

Best Original Screenplay

Frances McDormand is hoovering up awards for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Frances McDormand is hoovering up awards for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Nominees: Get Out, I, Tonya, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This is a very strong category indeed, which is rare given how many of the awards season contenders are usually biopics or book adaptations. There are a number of ways BAFTA could go on this one, with a nod for Get Out possible, as well as a chance to reward likely Best Picture Oscar winner The Shape of Water. However, the most likely move for me would be to hand the gong to Irishman Martin McDonagh for his scintillating, corrosive script for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer in romantic drama Call Me By Your Name
Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer in romantic drama Call Me By Your Name

Nominees: Call Me By Your Name, The Death of Stalin, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Molly’s Game, Paddington 2

This is a very British category, stacked with favourites from this side of the pond. However, it seems likely that the BAFTAs will again align with the Academy’s most probable choice on this one. James Ivory, at the age of 89, is on course to do good business over the course this awards season and there seems very little reason for BAFTA to divert from that path. Call Me By Your Name will be the winner.

 

Outstanding British Film

Josh O'Connor and Alec Secareanu in God's Own Country
Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu in God’s Own Country

Nominees: Darkest Hour, The Death of Stalin, God’s Own Country, Lady Macbeth, Paddington 2, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

There’s a possibility that the obligatory Stateside interloper Three Billboards will emerge victorious here, but that always seems antithetical to the spirit of the BAFTAs. Any of the six nominees stand a decent chance of leaving with major recognition but, for me, the deserving and likely winner is Francis Lee‘s stunning romance God’s Own Country, which was one of my favourite movies of 2017.

 

Oustanding British Debut

Florence Pugh was critically lauded for her work in British drama Lady Macbeth
Florence Pugh was critically lauded for her work in British drama Lady Macbeth

Nominees: The Ghoul, I Am Not a Witch, Jawbone, Kingdom of Us, Lady Macbeth

This one seems like a no-brainer. Playwright-turned-director William Oldroyd‘s brilliant drama Lady Macbeth has a captivating central performance from Florence Pugh and casts a strange spell with its dark storytelling. It’s a very special story that marked both Pugh and Oldroyd out as real talents to watch in the movie world in the next few years, with Pugh in particular already lining up major projects, including the part of WWE star Paige in wrestling biopic Fighting With My Family.

 

EE Rising Star Award

Nominees for the EE Rising Star Award at the BAFTAs 2018
Nominees for the EE Rising Star Award at the BAFTAs 2018

Nominees: Timothée Chalamet, Daniel Kaluuya, Josh O’Connor, Florence Pugh, Tessa Thompson

The Rising Star Award is usually a very easy one to call. Most recent shortlists have featured at least one big franchise star who wins the public vote based largely on the fact more people recognise who they are. This year, though, the shortlist is a smorgasbord of talent with many potential winners lurking amongst the field. The likely victor, though, would seem to be Daniel Kaluuya, who broke out in a big way with Get Out and is currently fresh in the minds of voters thanks to his compelling work in Black Panther.

 

What do you think of my BAFTAs 2018 predictions? Who do you think will win tonight and who deserves that recognition? Let me know in the comments section.

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