BAFTA predictions: Are we underestimating ‘Carol’?

Carol” is the first film since the expansion of the Best Picture field in 2009 to reap six Oscar nominations but be snubbed for the top prize. Compare that to its strong showing across the pond at BAFTA, where it is tied with “Bridge of Spies” with a leading nine nominations apiece. Each is nominated for Best Picture in a field of just five films.

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Currently, “Carol” is not predicted to win any of its six Oscar races: Cate Blanchett ranks 3rd for Best Actress, Rooney Mara is 2nd in Best Supporting Actress, Phyllis Nagy’s script is 2nd in Best Adapted Screenplay, Edward Lachman is 4th for Best Cinematography, Sandy Powell’s costumes are ranked 2nd behind her costumes for “Cinderella,” and Carter Burwell’s music is 2nd in Best Original Score.

“Carol” contends in all of these categories save Score at BAFTA as well as Best Picture, Best Director (Todd Haynes), Best Production Design and Best Makeup & Hairstyling. And it leads in two of these nine races: Best Supporting Actress and Costume Design. 

With Alicia Vikander being bumped up to Best Actress by BAFTA for her performance in “The Danish Girl,” Mara is out front in supporting. Among her rival nominees is Vikander for “Ex Machina.” And Powell sees her Oscar-contending costume designs flipped at BAFTA, with “Carol” ranking above “Cinderella.” 

The last film to do markedly better at the BAFTAs than the Oscars was “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” in 2011. While it went 0 for three at the Oscars, it won two of its 11 BAFTA bids (Best Adapted Screenplay and Best British Film). Like “Carol,” it is a subtle film, focused on the interior spaces of its characters more than its plot and both are especially impressive in their crafts, a point driven home by their strength scoring nominations below-the-line.

In 2011, “The Artist” was sweeping through all of the awards virtually unchallenged, leaving very little room for Tomas Alfredson and his film to maneuver in the Best Picture and Best Director fields. But this year we have yet to see a consensus form in either of the top two races.

Of the five directors nominated at BAFTA, only two compete at the Oscars: Adam McKay (“The Big Short”) and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“The Revenant”). In any other year, that would solidify their standing at BAFTA. Both were also in contention for the DGA award as was rival BAFTA nominee Ridley Scott (“The Martian”). However, Scott’s film isn’t nominated for Best Picture at BAFTA.

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Oscar frontrunner George Miller saw his film — “Mad Max: Fury Road” — snubbed above the line at BAFTA, reaping nominations in seven technical and creative categories. And while DGA and Oscar contender Tom McCarthy was shut out of the BAFTA race for Best Director, his film did make it into the final five here. Rounding out the Best Director race at BAFTA is Steven Spielberg (“Bridge of Spies”) whose film also contends for Best Picture. 

And while Haynes and his film are only ranked third in their respective races, there is precedent for non-Oscar nominees to win here. Baz Luhrmann won Best Director in 1997 for “Romeo + Juliet” (1997) while “The Commitments” won Best Picture in 1991. 

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Photo: “Carol” (The Weinstein Company)

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