As we all expected, “The Favourite” had a big night at the BAFTAs on Sunday, winning seven awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Rachel Weisz. This now officially makes her the Mark Rylance of the supporting actress Oscar race, but can Weisz, who — don’t forget — already has an Oscar for “The Constant Gardener” (2005), actually do what the “Bridge of Spies” star did three years ago and go all the way?
Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) is still the favorite to win the Oscar — and she has a lot working for her — despite the gaping holes in her awards ledger with those Screen Actors Guild Awards and BAFTA snubs. But there is a path for Weisz to pull it out now that she has the BAFTA under her belt.
SEE 2019 BAFTA Awards: See the full winners list
1. BAFTA has dictated the Oscar winner in fractured races
The supporting actress race is a carbon copy of the supporting actor race three years ago. The early frontrunner – Sylvester Stallone for “Creed” / King – won Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards, but were snubbed by SAG and BAFTA. The SAG went to a non-Oscar nominee in both years: Idris Elba for “Beasts of No Nation” and Emily Blunt for “A Quiet Place.” And the BAFTA went to a Brit in a Best Picture nominee (at BAFTA and the Oscars) who was consistently nominated everywhere.
The Oscars went with the BAFTA champ, as it also did in the 2007 supporting actress race, when four different people won the Globe (Cate Blanchett for “I’m Not There”), Critics’ Choice (Amy Ryan for “Gone Baby Gone”), SAG (Ruby Dee for “American Gangster”) and BAFTA (Tilda Swinton for “Michael Clayton”). The year before, Alan Arkin (“Little Miss Sunshine”) disrupted Eddie Murphy’s win streak for “Dreamgirls” at the BAFTAs and went on to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. And when the BAFTAs and Oscars placed Kate Winslet in lead for “The Reader (2008), both bodies gave their supporting prize to Penelope Cruz (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”).
There were other factors in these races, obviously, just like there are this year; they’re not perfect apples-to-apples comparisons. But BAFTA has a large overlap with the academy membership and is the last group to have its say before the Oscars and before Oscar voting, which started Tuesday.
2. The BAFTA is tangible evidence of industry support for Weisz
Sure, the British bias for “The Favourite” played a huge part in Weisz’s win, along with King’s absence and the fact that Weisz has never won a BAFTA before. But the BAFTA is still an industry award with the aforementioned cross-section of academy voters. The Globes and critics awards are great for building momentum, but those voters are not the people voting for the Oscars. And for all the talk about how beloved King is in the industry — which, as we’ve noted, she undoubtedly is — she couldn’t get nominated at the two industry precursors. But those snubs are not entirely reflective of her, but the response, or lack thereof, to her film as well.
3. Weisz is in a Best Picture nominee
“Beale Street” has underperformed all season, snagging a paltry three Oscar nominations compared to the co-leading 10 for “The Favourite” that includes Best Picture. Voters — and people in general — might only make time to check out the contenders for the top prize, which means they’d see Weisz’s performance but not King’s. Weisz is just in a stronger film overall, and while “The Favourite” will definitely not win seven Oscars, it could bag a major prize or two. Plus, those 10 Oscar nominations aren’t that far off from the 13 the film got at the BAFTAs, which included a non-existent Oscar category, Best British Film.
SEE 7 reasons why Regina King won’t get Mark Rylance’d at the Oscars
4. There is a now favorite between the “Favourite” supporting ladies
The common belief was that Weisz and her co-star Emma Stone will split the vote. Typically, when a someone beats a co-star, they had already been dominating the season (see: Octavia Spencer over Jessica Chastain for “The Help” seven years ago). Again, Weisz winning the BAFTA was not a surprise, but Stone has basically checked out since the SAG Awards. She skipped the Oscar nominees luncheon, where Weisz was the sole attendee of her film’s three nominated stars, and was MIA at the BAFTAs. She knows she’s not winning and is content with the nomination, which is perfectly fine, but that just steers the spotlight toward Weisz.
5. Weisz has a larger role
We’re not here to debate category fraud among the “Favourite” stars, but the screen time Weisz, who for the record has the shortest screen time of her, Stone and Olivia Colman, dwarves that of King’s in “Beale Street.” It’s also a bigger performance in general, with some killer lines and memorable moments (that dance!). Short and subtle performances can win, of course, but this is still an advantage for Weisz.
6. It’s been 13 years since her first Oscar win
Weisz’s Oscar victory has been cited as a “con” against her chances to win, but let’s play devil’s advocate. Yes, Weisz would be better positioned if she were Oscar-less, but if Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”) can be well on his way to a second Oscar two years later, why can’t Weisz do it 13 years after her first? Thirteen years was the spread between Michael Caine‘s two supporting Oscars (1986’s “Hannah and Her Sisters,” 1999’s “The Cider House Rules”). You usually need to be a sweeper, like Ali, if you’re going for another Oscar, but this race is strange enough as it is that anything is possible. And like we mentioned, Weisz’s last name starts with a “W” — the first letter of the surnames of the category’s only two-time champs: Shelley Winters (1959’s “The Diary of Anne Frank,” 1965’s “A Patch of Blue”) and Dianne Wiest (“Hannah and Her Sisters,” 1994’s “Bullets Over Broadway”). It is written.
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