BAFTA Awards 2018: Sally Hawkins, Lesley Manville could upset due to English pride

BAFTA might throw a wrench into this year’s Oscar acting races, considering the number of British actors nominated. Assuming the four frontrunners repeat at BAFTA, Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”) would be the only British acting winner, with Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”), Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) all hailing from America. We saw last year how the British Dev Patel (“Lion”) upset in Best Supporting Actor over eventual Oscar winner Mahershala Ali for “Moonlight,” so could we see a similar surprise in one of the acting categories? (See all the 2018 BAFTA nominations.)

Sally Hawkins (“The Shape of Water”) is the only Brit in Best Actress, and based on how well her movie performed (12 nominations), she could benefit from a big “Shape” sweep. It’s also possible that Irish-born Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”) could upset, considering they nominated her for “The Lovely Bones” in addition to her three Oscar nominated performances, so they clearly love her. Yet, with “Lady Bird” under-performing, including snubs in Best Picture and Director, smart money is on Hawkins pulling off a shocking victory if there is one.

In the Supporting Actress category it has been a true battle between Janney and Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”) all season, with the former taking home all the televised prizes so far. But one contender who could slip in at BAFTA is Lesley Manville (“Phantom Thread”), who just earned a surprise Oscar nomination. She was nominated at BAFTA in 2010 for “Another Year,” so she has been a beloved performer with these voters for many years. Additionally, they like going with British actresses in this category, as we’ve seen with Kate Winslet (“Steve Jobs”), Helena Bonham Carter (“The King’s Speech”) and Thandie Newton (“Crash”), so Manville might just be that upset with her scene-stealing performance. The only Englishman in Best Supporting Actor is Hugh Grant for his light-hearted performance in “Paddington 2,” so Rockwell will likely continue his sweep there, though anything is possible. Grant did just win the London Film Critics Circle Award.

No acting foursome has ever completely swept all the major award shows in the same year — Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, SAG Award, BAFTA and Oscar. Some have come close, like in 2006 and 2014, but it has never been accomplished since the Critics’ Choice Awards began in 1995. Considering Oldman, McDormand, Rockwell and Janney all have Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice and SAG Awards in the bag, they are close to becoming history-makers.

There is a reason, though, that we’ve never seen a full sweep before, and that’s because different voters value different kinds of performances. It is possible that the visibility and popularity of actresses like Hawkins and Manville is simply stronger in Britain than the U.S., which could give them the edge. While the frontrunners could very well still win at the Oscars, a win by someone else at BAFTA could finally introduce some suspense into the acting categories.

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