|Scene from Boyhood|
This past afternoon saw the announcement for the winners of the annual BAFTA Awards. For many, it is the ultimate sign of where the Oscar race is going to go. It could simply be because it is the final major award until the Oscars in two weeks. It could be that it is the British counterpoint for the award. However, it is more lucked up to coincidence with the past few years being exceptionally accurate across most of the major categories. Many are already predicting that Boyhood is going to take it after winning Best Film today. However, let me just say something that is important to remember: the BAFTAs don't matter. To the Oscars, anyways.
One of the fun games that everyone likes to play is seeing the pattern of which awards season goes along. From the moment that the Golden Globes announce their winners, there's a lot of speculation as to how accurate things will play out. After all, that awards show gives out two Best Picture statues: one for Best Drama and the other for Best Comedy or Musical. There's double the chances to be right. Of course, that means that there's a lot more ridiculous nominees and winners that would never get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture (see Best Comedy or Musical winner The Hangover).
In fact, the Golden Globes have been greatly antithetical to most awards shows this year. For starters, it is the only time that The Grand Budapest Hotel has won a Best Picture (in Best Comedy or Musical) award against the likes of Birdman. The acting opus from director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has been cleaning up every other award including the SAG Award. It has been neck and neck with Boyhood for most of the season. Sure, the BAFTAS may end up being a factor favoring one over the other, but it still holds no weight when all is considered.
The one factor to make perfectly clear is that most years have a coincidental favorite. Last year saw 12 Years a Slave sweep every major award. While many deemed that Gravity might have an upset chance, it wasn't too much of a prestige film. The big thing to note with modern Oscar trends is that there is such thing as believing in the prestige film. If there's a higher art to the project, it is likely to be your front runner. Sure, critic consensus helps, but going back to the more tumultuous 90's, it will all make sense that films like The English Patient or Dances with Wolves won. They looked the part down to their exhaustive running times. It is likely why The Kings Speech won Best Picture in 2010 over crowd favorite The Social Network. With both Boyhood and Birdman pretty much hitting the same prestige markers, it is hard to really determine.
Also, to say that the BAFTAS are indicative of the Oscars is to ignore a simple fact. It wasn't until six years ago that the BAFTA members voted in all of the categories. This is why there have been such strange selections and anything preceding the mid-90's looks very foreign to anyone wanting to refute this statement. While the last time that there wasn't overlap was in 2006 with The Queen overthrowing The Departed, there was still some questionable choices. For instance, the various nominees in any given year aren't reflective of the Oscars. For better or worse, The Godfather wasn't nominated for a single BAFTA in 1973. There's a lot of dissident between the two that would be exhaustive to go through. If there's any major difference between the two, it is that art house car film Drive received a BAFTA nomination for Best Picture and not an Oscar. There's no chance of it winning, but it reflects the difference in judgment of films.
Of course, the one notable difference that is always brought up is when Apollo 13 won the BAFTA, but lost the Oscar to Braveheart. It could just be that the Academy doesn't like science films. Even then, it is hard to fully understand their motives other than that the 90's was an oddly nostalgic period with all except two being period pieces. Of course, sometimes it all boils down to the general consensus factor that gave 12 Years a Slave the victory lap. It felt important, and so it was made true. Maybe Boyhood feels more-so, but Birdman also feels more thematically complex in a way that appeals to voters. It is a hard call.
I don't believe that there's really any correlation between the BAFTAS and the Oscars. While both are the top tier of their awards bracket, they are voted on by different members and often don't even look the same in nominations. Selma was shut out of the BAFTAS. Both are their own awards and mean different things. Nonetheless, there's plenty to like about each award. However, as I waft through the season, I become slowly convinced that few will truly ever mean the same in value to me. The Golden Globes are the silly, unpredictable one that gives some interesting alternatives. SAG is for acting, but they are just as boring as the winners. The BAFTAS, at very least, show off a more refined and British approach to the popular awards model with films like Pride and Paddington taking prominence over American films. If nothing else, these awards give us a second to stand back and realize that things aren't as obvious as they could be.