The 2018 British Academy Film Awards were held on Sunday, Feb. 18 at Royal Albert Hall in London. The 71st annual BAFTAS hosted by Joanna Lumley (“Absolutely Fabulous”) serves as a preview of next month’s Oscars. Final voting for the 90th annual Academy Awards begins on Tuesday (Feb. 20).
As at the Oscars, “The Shape of Water” leads among nominated films at these important precursor prizes with a whopping 12 bids. “Darkest Hour” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” are tied for second place with nine nominations each. “Blade Runner 2049” and “Dunkirk” are in contention for eight BAFTA Awards apiece while “I, Tonya” is up for five and both “Call Me by Your Name” and “Phantom Thread” contend in four categories.
Our exclusive BAFTA odds were almost fool-proof. We correctly predicted that “Three Billboards” would be the big winner, taking home five of the top awards: Best Picture, Best Actress (Frances McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell), Best Original Screenplay (Martin McDonagh) and Best British Film. And we foresaw that “The Shape of Water” would win three BAFTAs: Best Director (Guillermo Del Toro), Best Production Design and Best Score.
Likewise, we predicted correctly that “Darkest Hour” would claim Best Actor (Gary Oldman) and Best Makeup and Hair and that “Blade Runner 2049” would win both Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects. In addtion, we were proven right when “I, Tonya” took Best Supporting Actress (Allison Janney), “Call Me by Your Name” claimed Adapted Screenplay and “Phantom Thread” had Costume Design sewn up.
We did think that “Dunkirk” would win two BAFTAs but it had to settle for Best Sound as “Baby Driver” lay claim to Best Film Editing.
The show opened with a pre-recorded film bit, in which Lumley was inter-cut calling various characters from nominated films “darling,” including Timothee Chalmet in “Call Me By Your Name,” Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards,” and Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour.”
It then segued to a performance by Cirque de Soleil, which is in residence at RAH. It appeared to be a tribute, of sorts, to “The Shape of Water.” At the end, Lumley made her way onstage and made merry with some of those in attendance. After a string of bon mots, she ended with the pithy observation, “In one sense you’re all winners tonight. And in another sense, if you believe that you’ll believe anything.”
“Three Billboards” won both the first and last award of the evening, being named both Best Picture and Best British Film. While it is set in the American heartland, it was eligible for the latter award as it is written and directed by a Brit (McDonagh) and financed by UK broadcaster Channel 4 in partnership with Fox Searchlight. McDormand won Best Actress for her raw portrayal of a mother grieving her daughter, Rockwell claimed Best Supporting Actor for his role as a racist cop who has an epiphany and McDonagh won for his original script.
Oscar frontrunner del Toro won Best Director for “The Shape of Water.” He has swept the precursor prizes and is looking like a lock at the Oscars. Alexandre Desplat picked up his third Best Original Score prize for his work on the film. In his acceptance speech, the composer noted that the score was recorded at London’s famed Abbey Road studios by the London Symphony Orchestra. Desplat has gone three for eight at the BAFTAS, with previous wins for “The King’s Speech” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” It also won Best Production Design (Paul Austerberry, Jeff Melvin, Shane Vieau).
Oldman won Best Actor and the team that transformed him into Winston Churchill won Best Makeup and Hair. Among the quartet was veteran makeup wizard Kazuhiro Tsuji who the actor lured out of retirement. While Oldman had lost his two previous bids for Best Actor here, he has two BAFTAs for writing and producing the 1997 British film “Nil by Mouth.”
“Blade Runner 2049” claimed Best Visual Effects over, among others, Oscar frontrunner “War for the Planet of the Apes.” Unlike the latter, which only contended in this category, the former was up for eight BAFTAs and also won Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins.
Janney continued her winning streak, picking up yet another Best Supporting Actress for her scene-stealing turn as one mean mama in “I, Tonya.” The seven-time Emmy champ is now all but certain to take home an Oscar on her first nomination.
As we forecast, James Ivory won the Best Adapted Screenplay award for “Call Me By Your Name.” He and his partner Ismail Merchant had shared in two Best Picture wins for “A Room with a View” (1985) and “Howard’s End” (1992).
Edward Holcroft and Tom Taylor announced that Mark Bridges won Costume Design (as we predicted) for the creations he whipped up for “Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson‘s period piece in which Daniel Day-Lewis plays a fashion designer in the fabulous fifties.
Natalie Dormer and Hayley Squires revealed the only shocker of the night when “Baby Driver” won Best Film Editing over “Dunkirk.” Christopher Nolan’s WWII epic rebounded to win the Best Sound award (the Oscars split this category into two for editing and mixing). The latter was handed out by Brit stars Sam Clafin and Will Poulter.
“Coco” continues its march to the Oscars, with another win for Best Animated Film. The field was narrow at the BAFTAs with only two other nominees (“Loving Vincent” and “My Life as a Courgette”). This marks Pixar’s seventh win in a race which is only 12 years old.
One of last year’s also-rans at the Oscars for Best Documentary Feature, “I Am Not Your Negro,” picked up the BAFTA this year. Raoul Peck‘s provocative look at the life of James Baldwin was not released in the UK until 2017. Likewise, Park Chan-wook‘s “The Handmaiden,” which was shut out of last year’s Oscars, won Best Foreign Language Film.
Margot Robbie and Octavia Spencer presented the Rising Star Award, which is voted on by the British public, to Daniel Kaluuya. Although he plays an American in “Get Out,” he is a Brit. That may have given him the edge over rival nominee Timothee Chalamet. This “Call Me By Your Name” star’s name sounds French, but he is an American. Both of them are also up for Best Actor.