BAFTA nominations analysis: What do they tell us about Oscars?

The BAFTA nominations announced Friday could reveal a lot about next Thursday’s Oscar nominations thanks to a significant overlap of voters — upwards of 500. While both groups canvass all their members for their picks for Best Picture, BAFTA also does the same to determine the nominees for the four acting awards. 

While the academy expanded its Best Picture race to 10 nominees in 2009 and then shifted to a sliding scale of between five and 10 in 2011, the BAFTAs have stuck with five. With the exception of 2011, when it went three for five, all of the BAFTA nominees for Best Picture have gone on to contend at the Oscars. In that time the BAFTA champ has repeated at the Oscars save for last year when the Brits went with “Boyhood” while the academy embraced “Birdman.” 

Last year, “Boyhood” was only in contention for only five BAFTAs but won three big prizes: Best Picture, Director (Richard Linklater) and Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette). Only Arquette went on to win an Oscar. Conversely, “Birdman” prevailed with just one of its 10 BAFTA bids: Best Cinematography. It then won in that Oscar race as well as Picture, Director (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu) and Original Screenplay. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” won five of its leading 11 BAFTA nominations: Original Screenplay, Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, Production Design and Score; it repeated in all of those save screenplay. “Whiplash” went three for five by claiming Best Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons), Editing and Sound; it also pulled off that hat trick at the Oscars. And leads Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”) and Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) got a chance to practice their Oscar acceptance speeches. 

So who among this year’s Oscar hopefuls was most helped and hurt by the BAFTA nominations?

BAFTA Awards: Complete list of nominations


Bridge of Spies
It and “Carol” edged out “The Revenant” to earn the most nominations with nine apiece; all three contend for Best Picture and Director. And, as it has done stateside with the guilds, this Steven Spielberg spy thriller scooped up nominations for Supporting Actor Oscar frontrunner Mark Rylance and Adapted Screenplay and did very well in the below-the-line races with bids for Cinematography, Film Editing, Music, Production Design and Sound. This marks the sixth BAFTA bid for Spielberg as helmer but his first since “Saving Private Ryan” back in 1998; he won for “Schindler’s List” in 1993. 

Cate Blanchett contends for Best Actress while Rooney Mara was slotted in supporting (though she is up in lead at this Sunday’s Globes.) And, after being snubbed by several guilds on this side of the pond, this Todd Haynes romance came roaring back with nominations for Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, Production Design.

The Revenant 
With eight nominations, including Best Picture and Director (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu), this epic adventure showed surprising strength. Best Actor Oscar frontrunner Leonardo DiCaprio is in contention here as is reigning Cinematography champ Emmanuel Lubezki. Also cited below-the-line were Film Editing, Makeup & Hairstyling, Music and Sound.

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The Big Short
There had been some talk that this film would be too American to play to British voters. And while it has only five nominations, they are in key categories: Best Picture, Director (Adam McKay), Supporting Actor (Christian Bale), Adapted Screenplay and Film Editing.

Voters showered lots of love on this home-grown period charmer, which is the frontrunner to win Best British Film. Both Saoirse Ronan and BAFTA darling Julie Walters  (two film wins, four for TV) contend as do Adapted Screenplay, Costume Design and Makeup & Hairstyling.

Alicia Vikander
This Swedish ingenue won over British voters with a supporting nomination for “Ex Machina and a promotion to lead for “The Danish Girl.” She joins a select group of women to have pulled off this double act including Miranda Richardson, Holly HunterMeryl Streep, Scarlet Johansson, Kate Winslet (twice) and Cate Blanchett. Read how each of these two-nominees fared at the BAFTAs and Oscars here

Maggie Smith (“The Lady in the Van)
Dame Maggie bumped fellow Brit Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years) from the Best Actress line-up. She has won five of her previous 12 BAFTA film bids and received the Fellowship (for lifetime achievement) in 1996 while Rampling has never been nominated. 

BAFTA nominations by the numbers:
Bridge of Spies’ & ‘Carol’ lead with 9 each, ‘The Revenant’ nabs 8


While the current Oscar frontrunner does number among the Best Picture nominees, it was limited to just two other races – Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo) and Original Screenplay (co-written by director Tom McCarthy). Despite similar cases of abuse by priests in the UK, perhaps British voters rejected this film as too American. 

The Martian
Although it earned six nominations including one for Best Director frontrunner Sir Ridley Scott, this sci-fi epic could not crack a Best Picture line-up that is limited to five on this side of the pond. 

Mad Max: Fury Road
It did not reap bids for either Best Picture or Director despite widespread support as evidenced by its seven nominations in below-the-line categories (Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Production Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, Sound, Visual Effects)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The made-in-England box office phenomenon could not break into any of the top tier races, contending only for Music, Production Design, Sound and Visual Effects.

The Hateful Eight
This revisionist Western by Quentin Tarantino was said to have played well to BAFTA voters but was nominated in just three races:  Supporting Actress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Original Screenplay and Music.

Helen Mirren (“Trumbo“)
Despite bids from the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice and SAG Awards, Dame Helen was not cited here for her turn as Hedda Hopper in this true Hollywood story. Mirren has gone one for five on the film side here (“The Queen,” 2006) and won the first three of her six TV bids for the “Prime Suspect” series (1991-1993)

Correction: The original version of this post made reference to “Grand Budapest” losing Score at the Oscars; it was Original Screenplay. 

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