Welcome to Oscar Experts Typing, a weekly column in which Gold Derby editors and Experts Joyce Eng and Christopher Rosen discuss the Oscar race — via Slack, of course. This week, we dissect the BAFTA longlists.
Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! It’s Friday and we’ve got some new data points to discuss! Earlier today, BAFTA released its longlists and further buttressed the Best Picture bona fides for “All Quiet on the Western Front.” The Netflix war drama led all contenders with 15 overall mentions, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Cinematography and more. If you’ll allow me to put on my best Richard Dreyfuss voice, this means something. This is important. I was reluctant after the Oscar shortlists were released to jump on the “All Quiet” bandwagon, but now I’m fully aboard: I’ve got it in for Best Picture and I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that Edward Berger cracks the Best Director lineup. Speaking of, that’s a place where BAFTA perhaps rang its loudest bell of surprise: Despite a longlist of 16 directors, my presumed frontrunner Steven Spielberg was left out in the cold for “The Fabelmans.” That fantastic movie also missed mentions in Best Supporting Actor (sorry to Judd Hirsch and Paul Dano), Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Score. Not great, Bob! By contrast, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” hit like gangbusters with 12 mentions, really only missing a supporting actress mention for Stephanie Hsu. “The Banshees of Inisherin” was even stronger: 14 citations by BAFTA, although none would really count as a surprise. Heck, even “Babylon,” which missed Margot Robbie and Damien Chazelle and Best Film even had more longlist mentions than “The Fabelmans.” Joyce, is this further confirmation of “The Fabelmans” falling out of the pole position and should I start worrying about Spielberg getting in at the Oscars? Is that what we’re doing now? Please help!
joyceeng: I get why everyone is shook by the Spielberg snub, but I had a feeling that might happen as “The Fabelmans” started serving “respected, not loved” vibes. For one, BAFTA has never been overly warm toward Spielberg, even though, ironically, he got a BAFTA nom (“Jaws”) before an Oscar nom (“Close Encounters of the Third Kind”). BAFTA snubbed him for “Lincoln” when he was one of two people to survive the DGA/Oscar massacre that year. His last nominations there were for “Bridge of Spies” under the old voting system. Last year, he made the longlist of 20 for “West Side Story,” but that also had flashier direction. And that brings me to the next point: BAFTA revamped the jury system for Best Director this year. Allow me to quote the new rules: The top two directors (regardless of gender) from the Round One Chapter vote will automatically be nominated, and the top five female and top five male directors will be longlisted (including the nominees). The longlisting jury will select the remaining three female and three male directors to create a longlist of 16 (equal gender split). In Round Two, the nominating jury will select four directors to join the two automatically nominated in Round One, creating a nominations list of six. The reduction in slots and Best Director having strict gender parity rules were just a double whammy for him. He ought to be fine for DGA and the Oscars since the category is still fluid, but “The Fabelmans” will need to rebound hard for him to win. Nom-wise, I’d be more concerned about James Cameron. “Avatar: The Way of Water” tanked, getting into only production design, sound and visual effects. I can see the King of the World missing for someone like Berger, who’d fill the requisite international/non-English language slot. I am shocked that you did not mention “Top Gun: Maverick,” which made eight lists, including Best Director for Joseph Kosinski, who had been invisible this whole season. I’m not going to predict him at the Oscars yet, but we did it, Joe.
Christopher Rosen: I’m choosing what I’ll call the “Joyce route” when it comes to “Top Gun: Maverick.” Because I actually do want it to win Best Picture, I’m going to just ignore it and hope for the best. But it was a great day for callsign Maverick, and I’m psyched about Kosinski getting the recognition he deserves. I’m glad you brought up Big Jim because I’m terribly vexed about Best Director. I still think Spielberg will get in at the Oscars, and the Daniels might now be considered the frontrunners there — although I’m not ready to make that leap. Next up are Todd Field and Baz Luhrmann, and both should be “safe” as well. So if the last spot comes down to Cameron, Berger, Martin McDonagh, Kosinski, and Ruben Östlund, should we (I) be taking McDonagh more seriously? I’ve had him in and out more times than I can count, and it does feel like “Banshees” is one of the top three Best Picture contenders at the moment. Does the “Banshees” showing today push McDonagh in? And once we figure out Best Director, please do me the favor of assessing the Best Supporting Actress race since that remains all over the map.
joyceeng: I’ve had McDonagh in already, so this changes nothing for me. I don’t think he’ll get PTA’d this time and no one is accusing “Banshees” of being racist. Field and Luhrmann are both seeking revenge noms, and I’d lean Field for now since that branch can be snobby and Martin Scorsese didn’t say “Elvis” saved the future of cinema, ya know? But “Elvis” is beloved — Tom Hanks made the BAFTA longlist and was most certainly top seven because you cannot convince me that a jury saved him — so I would not be the least bit surprised if Luhrmann gets in, especially since he’s also someone with an easily identifiable directing style. As for supporting actress, I think the first five alphabetically at BAFTA — Angela Bassett, Hong Chau, Kerry Condon, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dolly de Leon — could be the Oscar five. Hsu missing was a big blow — she’s in a top two film and couldn’t make top seven in her category. But SAG can still give her a lifeline. I love that Carey Mulligan made it since she was being written off as a “Globes thing.” What if the Globes five was the Oscar five all along? And she got in over Jessie Buckley and Claire Foy. We all knew “Women Talking” was crashing and burning, but it’s still a big fat yikes. On the other hand, I feel like Best Actress is solidifying around the chalk five of Cate Blanchett, Viola Davis, Danielle Deadwyler, Michelle Williams and Michelle Yeoh. I know Paul Mescal stans will be encouraged by “Aftersun’s” eight mentions, but it was always expected to do well here. I still give the edge to Tom Cruise for the fifth Best Actor slot since “Top Gun: Maverick” continues to show its strength and he made the longlist over “traditional” performances from Hugh Jackman and Jeremy Pope (both Globe nominees), a breakout turn from Gabriel LaBelle (every non-Ansel Elgort “West Side Story” star was longlisted last year), and homegrown stars Ralph Fiennes and Daniel Craig, the latter of whom popped last year for “No Time to Die.” Are the lead lineups more or less settled now or can you see an Ana de Armas passion pick sliding through? I also want to circle back to supporting actor, where, as you noted, “The Fabelmans” flopped. I’m only sad for you since you had both Fabelmen in your Oscar lineup, but I’m now about to put Brad Pitt back into my SAG and Oscar slates.
Christopher Rosen: I have to say, I do feel “siri play vindicated” about that supporting actress list you mentioned. It just so happens to be my five and while I still think there’s room for Janelle Monáe to knock someone off in the final calculus — the BAFTA disrespect toward “Glass Onion,” a decidedly American property if there ever was one, notwithstanding — those women feel like our Oscar nominees. As for the supporting fellas, I have long wavered on Dano for “The Fabelmans” and while I kind of accepted him as a placeholder in my fifth spot in recent weeks, today sent me back to Pitt as well. I still feel like Hirsch will get in on enthusiasm for his performance and him as an actor — but I can’t count out Hanks for his unhinged “Elvis” performance. If I abandon the category’s resident octogenarian, it’ll be for Col. Parker. This has been a grab bag of typing, so let me close out with Best Actor and a final comment on the director race. One name caught my eye on the acting longlist: Harris Dickinson for “Triangle of Sadness.” That movie feels increasingly safe as a Best Picture nominee, and its script and de Leon are solid contenders too. So in a Best Actor race where there are four seeming locks plus Cruise for a Movie Star performance more than an acting showcase, we all assume someone else could sneak in. As you mentioned, Film Twitter has its hopes pinned on Mescal for the beloved “Aftersun.” But do you think there’s a world where Dickinson shocks as a nominee? I don’t think it’ll happen but I can’t say it’s impossible. As for Best Director, walk with me through this scenario: Spielberg gets in with a weakened “The Fabelmans”; McDonagh, meanwhile, separates himself in Best Original Screenplay, and this happens in conjunction with “Everything Everywhere” steamrolling to a Best Picture win that would cover the Daniels with Oscars. So is there a version of this story that ends with Todd Field winning Best Director? Scorsese loved “TÁR” in a way that he hasn’t loved something since… “The Power of the Dog,” when he stumped for Jane Campion at last year’s NYFCC dinner. “TÁR” is the critical achievement of the year and you could argue this prize increasingly goes to the critical favorite — Campion, Chloe Zhao, Bong Joon Ho, Alfonso Cuaron. Field has long felt like the Paul Thomas Anderson of this race — an “honor to be nominated” nomination. But what if he’s Campion instead?
joyceeng: Would love to see it, but no. All those people you mentioned helmed Best Picture winners or runners-up. As we’ve discussed before, despite all its acclaim, “TÁR” has, sadly, never been viewed as a probable Best Picture winner. Field is not even a lock for a nomination and missed at the Globes. I can see him being AWOL at DGA too but get in at the Oscars. If anything, Blanchett is the Campion of “TÁR” as she has always been seen as the likeliest representative win for the film. Thousands of people also don’t vote in that “spread the wealth” way we all like to imagine. If “Everything Everywhere” is winning Best Picture, the Daniels could easily pick up Best Director too. While you’re spinning “Vindicated” for supporting actress, I’ll play it for all the times you mocked me for having “Triangle of Sadness” in Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. But I’d predict Woody Harrelson as “Triangle’s” second acting nom before 26-year-old Dickinson, despite the thinness of Best Actor. Now excuse me while I put “Vindicated” on repeat enough times to get it into my Spotify Wrapped this year.
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