Friday 6 February 2015

Having a bash at the BAFTAs (Part 3)

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory Of Everything

This is another category where it’s more about which nominees I don’t want to win than the ones I do. The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game are both perfectly solid, although somewhat anodyne versions of the lives of Stephen Hawking and Alan Turing respectively. The performances in them from two extremely strong casts perhaps give the impression they are better films than they really are. In five years time, I suspect people will remember little about Theory except Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. For me that leaves three films all genuinely deserving of the award. Birdman and Boyhood are both terrific, ambitious movies but I really hope they give it to Grand Budapest Hotel. It would be genuinely wonderful to see Wes Anderson’s madcap masterpiece carry all before it.  
Should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Will win: Boyhood

Film not in the English language
The Lunchbox
Two Days, One Night

BAFTA might hand this award to Leviathan just to upset the Russians (the film being a savage critique of the country's unholy union of church and state). What might prevent them from doing that is the movie itself – excellent for an hour but ultimately a fairly miserable, dispiriting piece of work. It was too bleak even for me. Not that Ida and Two Days, One Night are exactly laugh a minute either but at least those two pictures – one Polish, the other Belgian – end on a hopeful, uplifting note. Ida – about a novice nun uncovering the fate of her family in WWII – is the stronger film but the Dardenne brothers’ simple-but-effective skewering of post-crash capitalism might just edge it out. Two Days’ main advantage is Marion Cotillard’s star power. She has been quite rightly nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role as Sandra, a woman battling to save her job following a debilitating bout of depression.
Should win: Ida
Will win: Two Days, One Night

Supporting actress
Keira Knightley: The Imitation Game
Imelda Staunton: Pride
Emma Stone: Birdman
Patricia Arquette: Boyhood
Rene Russo: Nightcrawler

I had intended to talk about the Actress award but then realised I hadn’t actually seen three of the five nominees – Wild, Big Eyes and Still Alice, so I’m discussing this category instead. Russo is perfectly loathsome in Nightcrawler (“If it bleeds, it leads”) but I’d be amazed if anyone other than Arquette walks away with this particular statuette. She plays Olivia in Boyhood and, over the 12 years the film covers, we see her holding her family together and launching a successful career while the failed marriages keep on stacking up around her. Olivia's every bit as much the beating heart of Richard Linklater’s film as her son Mason (Eller Coltrane) and by the time she gives her elegiac “You know what’s next? My fucking funeral” speech towards the end there isn’t a dry eye in the house.
Should win: Patricia Arquette: Boyhood
Will win: Patricia Arquette (below): Boyhood

Eddie Redmayne: The Theory Of Everything
Ralph Fiennes: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Benedict Cumberbatch: The Imitation Game
Jake Gyllenhaal: Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton: Birdman

The Oscars completely snubbed the excellent but underrated Nightcrawler so it’s hugely gratifying to see Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo nominated for their acting roles by BAFTA. Gyllenhaal’s turn as amoral news stringer Lou Bloom manages to be both horrifying and hilarious and it would be a truly great moment if he triumphed here. He won’t though because this award has Redmayne’s name all over it. His performance as Stephen Hawking is hugely impressive – not only does Redmayne make you believe he’s a genius-level theoretical physicist and cosmologist but the way in which the young actor portrays the progressively more debilitating effects of Hawking’s ALS is powerful and heartbreaking. No one will ever convince me The Theory of Everything is a great movie but Redmayne is pretty great in it.
Should win: Jake Gyllenhaal: Nightcrawler
Will win: Eddie Redmayne (below): The Theory of Everything

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