Monday, February 11, 2008

If a Tree Falls in a Forest: BAFTA Awards

The Bafta Awards ceremony was held last night, and the full list of winners can be found at Edward Copeland on Film: BAFTA awards.

If there is one award ceremony that’s less relevant than the Globes, it’s the Baftas. What makes the whole shindig even more risible is the British Academy’s (and the British Media’s) self-delusion that the awards actually mean something. They don’t. In fact, they used to take place after the Oscar Ceremony until a few years ago when the organizers realised that not only no one gave a flying toss (no change there), but hardly any non-British Hollywood A-Listers even bothered to turn up. So the awards were brought forward, made more swanky (read television friendly) with a red-carpet and a slightly more bearable tone (complete with third-rate ersatz Vilanchesque gags, and a phone-in contest), and refashioned as Britain’s answer to the Oscars. Considering the amount of obligatory British talent in the Academy Awards, such an answer seems to be a superfluous retort to a rhetorical question.

Anyway, Atonement won for best film. I liked it very much, and think it one of the better films of a particularly excellent year, but does it deserve such recognition? I don’t think so. Since I have yet to see No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, I can only gauge my reaction based on the other two films that were in competition, in which case American Gangster (itself far from perfect) and, especially, The Lives of Others tower over Atonement. The film did not score in any of the other major categories, either. It’s as if the British Academy knew it had no chance in hell of winning anything significant at the Oscars, and named Atonement the best film of the year, partly out of condescension, and partly to reassure themselves of the British film industry. Keep chasing the dream, lads.

The Best British Film award went to This Is England, which, apparently, is great, but also a film I still haven’t seen albeit not for long since it’s coming on the telly here later this month. This award always leaves me baffled. What are the conditions? The Bourne Ultimatum was in the short list, but I am not sure how anyone can consider it a British film. It was distributed, and partly financed, by Universal, with The Kennedy/Marshall Company and Ludlum Entertainment also chipping in. So the money wasn’t British, the film wasn’t written by Brits, and even though it features London at times, the story itself doesn’t really feel of Britain. Is it just the nationality of the director Paul Greengrass that makes the film British? A similar case can be made for Eastern Promises. Sure, it takes place in London, but I can’t bring myself to calling it a British film.

Then there is the differentiation between the best British film and the best film, and in Atonement there is an overlap in both short lists. Since the former is more constricted, one would think that Atonement should also be the best British film. If This Is England is better than Atonement, doesn’t that put the latter’s win in a bad light? Why should it? No one said any of these awards were meant to make sense.

The rest of the awards were fairly straight forward with no real surprises apart from, possibly, Ronald Harwood’s best adapted screenplay win for The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, and Marion Cotillard’s best actress nod for her work in La Vie En Rose.

I will post my final Oscar predictions list in the coming weeks (after I see No Country For Old Men at the Istanbul Independent Film Festival).


I just watched the first part of the Beyonce/Tina Turner duet from last night’s Grammy’s, and that introductory song-and-dance routine Beyonce did was embarrassing. Yikes.


Sam Brooks said...

While it might not be a relevant award; I found the ceremony to still be quite enjoyable, as they go. Definitely enjoyed it more than the SAGs. They also seemed to give longer clips to the nominees, which is nice.