Gold Derby Editor Tom O’Neil defends his BAFTA Awards predictions

I feel good about my BAFTA Awards predictions as I compare them to Gold Derby’s official racetrack odds, which tend to be fairly accurate. The odds are based upon combining the predictions of some smarty-pants award prognosticators: our Experts, Editors, Top 24 Users (best predictions last year), Top 24 All Stars (best picks for the past two years) and all Users.

This year I concur with our odds in 18 out of 21 races, but I dare to disagree in these three: Best British Film, Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects.

We all agree that the Oscar frontrunners will probably romp to victory here first, as they usually do. That means we can expect wins by Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”), Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”) and Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”). But hold your horses, Derbyites! Watch out for a possible upset in the supporting-actress race by Lesley Manville (“Phantom Thread”), who’s a sneaky dark horse on her home turf here. She’s a veteran British actress beloved by film critics and industry insiders. And she’s ridiculously overdue to win her first BAFTA trophy after three past losses. The fact that Manville got her first Oscar nomination for “Phantom Thread” makes this role special to voters.

One thing about our BAFTA odds doesn’t make sense. If they’re usually so accurate in predicting BAFTA winners and BAFTA is usually accurate in predicting the Oscars, why are we betting on “Three Billboards” to win Best Picture at BAFTA, but “The Shape of Water” to prevail at the Oscars?

I don’t have a logical answer to that mystery. Personally, I think “Three Billboards” will win Best Picture at both races.

But I don’t believe “Three Billboards” will triumph as Best British Film at BAFTA, too, which our odds predict. That’s ridiculous! These are British voters we’re talking about. How can they resist “Darkest Hour,” which so magnificently depicts the time that scrappy little island in the north Atlantic dared to take on Adolf Hitler after he’d conquered Europe? Pundits have been under-estimating “Darkest Hour” all awards season, foolishly. They didn’t predict it to get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture because, well, frankly, it isn’t cool among media hipsters to like such fuddy-duddy historical drama, even when it’s a masterpiece, as “Darkest Hour” is. It’s very possible that Brits have a very different, positive view.

As for my beef with our BAFTA odds on Best Cinematography, I size up the race this way. This award usually goes to the movie with the most sweeping panoramic views. That would be “Dunkirk,” which has the same special appeal to British voters since it’s a theatrically thrilling depiction of their World War II history. Yes, I’m aware that this is supposed to be the Year of Roger Deakins (“Blade Runner 2049”), but that can still happen at the Oscars if BAFTA takes a left turn here. The two awards never agree on everything.

Best Visual Effects: I’ve had “Planet of the Apes” as winner up until a few minutes ago when I was just persuaded that “Blade Runner 2049” has the edge because it’s got six BAFTA nominations. Voters like “Blade Runner” more. “Apes” has no other bids.

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