Why BAFTA nominations weren’t a surprise

While “My Week with Marilyn” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” led with 16 mentions each on the BAFTA longlist, the biopic landed only six nominations Tuesday while the spy thriller reaped 11 bids. Why the big difference? It has to do with the level of support for each film at the chapter level which are akin to the branches in AMPAS. 


The BAFTA nominating process differs from the Oscars in two key ways: the entire membership votes for all nominees and do so in two stages. The final five contenders are culled from a longlist that includes 15 semi-finalists in most categories. The top five vote-getters from the respective chapters are indicated on the longlist so all voters can see what the experts prefer.

Those proved to be a good barometer of the eventual nominees. The Directors slate and all but one of the 20 acting nominees (Carey Mulligan, “Drive”) were in the top five on the longlists. So were all the screenplay nominees but for “The Iron Lady.” “War Horse” picked up two of its five technical bids despite not being among the top tier for Cinematography and Visual Effects. The only other outliers were in Costumes (“Tinker Tailor Solider Spy”), Score (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) and Sound (“The Artist”). 

“The Artist” had 10 of its 12 chapter mentions in the top tier: Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius), Actor (Jean Dujardin), Actress (Berenice Bejo), Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, Costume Design, Make-up/Hair and Score. It reaped nominations for all of these plus Picture and Sound. 

Hugo” landed nine of its 11 chapter mentions in the top five: Director (Martin Scorsese), Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, Costume Design, Make-up/Hair, Score, Sound and Visual Effects. It reaped bids in all these categories. 

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” saw just eight of its 14 chapter mentions make the top five: Director (Tomas Alfredson), Actor (Gary Oldman), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, Score and Sound. It was nominated in all these races plus Picture, British Film and Costume Design. 

My Week with Marilyn” went six for 14: Actress (Michelle Williams), Supporting Actor (Kenneth Branagh), Supporting Actress (Judi Dench), Supporting Actress (Zoe Wanamaker), Costumes, and Make-up/Hair. All of these except Wanamaker made the cut and it picked up a bid for British Film. 

The Help” was five for 11: Actress (Viola Davis), Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain), Supporting Actress (Bryce Dallas Howard), Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer) and Adapted Screenplay. Howard was the only no-show among the nominees and it also contends for Picture. 

War Horse” managed only three of 11: Production Design, Score and Sound. The film was nominated in those three categories plus Cinematography and Visual Effects. 

Drive” went just three for 10: Director (Nicolas Winding Refn), Cinematography and Editing. While it got nods for helming and cutting, it also contends for Picture and Supporting Actress. 

Moneyball” landed three out of seven in the top five: Actor (Brad Pitt), Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill) and Adapted Screenplay. And it batted a thousand with them all landing nominations. 

For “The Iron Lady,” only three of 12 mentions looked likely to be elected — Actress (Meryl Streep), Supporting Actor (Jim Broadbent) and Make-up/Hair — but it also contends for Original Screenplay. 

Likewise, “The Ides of March” placed just two of 10 in the top five — Supporting Actor (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and Adapted Screenplay — but both succeeded in securing nominations. 

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” conjured up top slots for two of its nine mentions: Production Design and Visual Effect. Those both got nominated as did Makeup/Hair and Sound. 

We Need to Talk About Kevin” went two for eight: Director (Lynne Ramsay) and Actress (Tilda Swinton). They both got bids as did the movie for British Film. 

The Descendants” was two for six: Actor (George Clooney) and Adapted Screenplay. It got only those two nominations plus Picture. 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” managed this for just one of its 12 chapter mentions (Cinematography) but also reaped a Score bid.

Midnight in Paris” also landed just one of its 12 mentions in the top five (Original Screenplay) and that was its only nomination. 

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