BAFTA Cements “Three Billboards” as Oscar Front Runner

With the Academy Awards less than two weeks away, the 2018 awards season will soon come to a close. Awards pundits consider the BAFTAs the final Oscar precursor. More than just the United Kingdom’s answer to the Oscars, The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), like the Academy in the United States, exists beyond their awards ceremony as a world-leading charity in support of the arts.

For their awards, they celebrate excellence in storytelling in multiple outlets. These include the classifications of film, television, children’s entertainment and even video games/interactive media. Each category has its own ceremony during the year. The 2018 EE British Academy Film Awards, still referred to under the umbrella name of BAFTA(s) were presented on Sunday, Feb. 18 in the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Complete list of BAFTA winners

Many high-profile personalities and performers from the UK and Hollywood were in attendance. Most notably, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge represented the Royal Family at the event. Prince William himself serves as the President of BAFTA.

Usual host Stephen Fry was absent this year from the telecast. In his place, Joanna Lumley brought her signature snarky sophistication to the role of hostess. She had many witty one liners throughout the evening.

While Lumley and the presenters were focused on the nominees, they also gave plenty of commentary on political and cultural events. Some winners even included it in their speeches. This awards season has been dominated by the #MeToo conversation, leaving some to wonder how and if the awards seasons of the future will continue to address it.

Having a film about a fierce, unapologetic and grieving mother seeking justice for her daughter’s slaughtering, Martin Mcdonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” as the big winner of the night certainly felt fitting.

In addition to having an Outstanding Film category, BAFTA also awards an Outstanding British Film. This year, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” took home both of these awards. To qualify of the British film category, films must have an essential member of the creative team who is British and/or has maintained a permanent UK residence for ten or more years. The film, which focuses heavily on crime and race in a town in modern-day America, was the big winner of the night despite BAFTA being across the pond. It also won for its original screenplay, Leading Actress for Frances McDormand, and Supporting Actor for Sam Rockwell, making a total win of five awards.

Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer in the film THE SHAPE OF WATER. Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

The double film win for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” has put it miles ahead of predicted BAFTA Outstanding Film winner “The Shape of Water” in the Oscar Race. While it underperformed at the BAFTAs, the fantasy film still nabbed a win for its director, Guillermo del Toro, who is expected to take the same award at the Oscars. Its imaginative production design and luscious musical score were also awarded. Some pundits predicted that Sally Hawkins may have been able to pull off a surprise win on her home turf; however, it seems her campaign momentum ran out of steam almost entirely.

In the acting categories, BAFTA awarded the same quartet of winners as the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild. In a year full of such exquisite and complex performances, it feels odd that the awards are not spreading the wealth. Usually, two or three performers in each category get recognition and then battle it out at the Oscars. This year, it feels like the Oscar winners have been set in stone for weeks, especially since James Franco’s fall from grace.

Frannotated: Oscar Predictions (Feb. 23)

While each of them established themselves as the front runners in their categories through their wins, it seems unlikely that all four would pick up every award in the awards season. The odds are, at least one of them will go home empty handed on Oscar Sunday.

“Call Me By Your Name.” Screenshot courtesy of Vimeo.

Will “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” stars Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell still be crown Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars, respectively?

Could Laurie Metcalf of “Lady Bird” dethrone Allison Janney after the “I, Tonya” star’s BAFTA trophy serves as her latest Best Supporting Actress win?

Should Gary Oldman of “Darkest Hour” look out for Timothée Chalamet of “Call Me By Your Name” or the star of “Get Out,” Daniel Kaluuya?

Oldman’s BAFTA win, which was in his home country, could be his final trip to the podium. Odds are Oldman will be upset by a younger star. Chalamet’s campaign is gaining momentum and Kaluuya just won BAFTA’s EE Rising Star Award, which was voted on by the UK public.

The only shocking win of the evening came at the hands of “Baby Driver” triumphing over “Dunkirk” for excellence in film editing.

Other winners at BAFTA included James Ivory’s adapted screenplay for “Call Me By Your Name,” “Coco” for its best animated film winning streak, and “Blade Runner 2049” won two awards for its cinematography and special visual effects. Expect these winners to also be given Oscars on Mar. 4 by the Academy in Hollywood.

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