BAFTA Nominations Disappoint – Special Features #57

This morning, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) announced their nominations for the 73rd British Academy Film Awards. For a complete list of the nominations, click here. Normally, I have some love for the BAFTA awards. I’m not British, but I think they function as a nice alternative to the Oscars every year. They also tend to zig when the Oscars zag, which is to say that often they don’t agree on the nominations and winners. I look forward to the BAFTAs every year because they sometimes make some really inspired choices, like when they showed a lot of love for Blade Runner 2049. But this year’s nominations list is very disappointing.

This year’s nominations list makes the British Academy look old, white, male, and narrow-minded. A couple of years ago, the Oscars were under fire with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, and this nominations list from the British Academy reminded me of that hashtag. The most significant and noteworthy takeaways from the 2019-2020 BAFTA nominations list are as follows:

  • All of the nominees in the Best Director-category are male.
  • There are no persons of color among the twenty acting nominees.
  • Todd Phillips and Warner Bros.’ Joker, a critically divisive film (to say the least) is the nominations leader.

I’m not completely surprised by that first takeaway. All of the nominated directors at the Golden Globes were male, and it does seem like this will be another year where female directors are overlooked in the major awards ceremonies. Although it may be disappointing, this is not at all a surprise. With that having been said, I was shocked to see that Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir, which, granted, I did not have a love for, did not receive any nominations at all. It is a critical darling that I was absolutely sure would be shown some love at the BAFTAs, but not only was Hogg not nominated for Best Director, but the film also wasn’t even nominated for Best British Film.

As for the second takeaway, it feels like the British Academy is adding insult to injury by nominating both Scarlett Johansson and Margot Robbie twice instead of finding room for diverse performers. I mean, Robbie was nominated twice in the same category, while Jennifer Lopez, one of the perceived frontrunners in the Supporting Actress-category, was snubbed. I was hoping that Lupita Nyong’o would breakthrough at the BAFTAs, but it doesn’t seem like the Us-star is getting the awards-credit that she deserves this season.

Although I’ve given Joker a fairly high critical score, I’m also disappointed by that third takeaway. Make no mistake, Joaquin Phoenix is outstanding in the film. The music is memorable, and the cinematography is excellent. You absolutely should praise these elements and nominate them for awards. However, this very derivative film is getting nominations in categories that I just think it has no business being in the conversation for. Again, I like the film, but it is being grossly over-nominated here.

The British Academy is basically inviting complaints and criticism with this year’s disappointing nominations list. The films are there, the performers and directors are there, but the Academy is just not recognizing them. Of course, if the Academy’s members believe these are the best and most deserving films and individuals, then so be it. But it is disappointing that the British Academy — a representative of the film industry — has released this disappointing nominations list.

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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