The BAFTA nominations have arrived ahead of next month’s ceremony and they’re definitely peppered with surprises. Gone are the days when the top honour in British cinema often seemed to shadow – or perhaps anticipate – what the Oscars might do. Here are 10 of the major talking points from this year’s pretty meaty shortlists.
Dune is this year’s most nominated film
Director Denis Villeneuve‘s visionary sci-fi adventure picks up 11 nominations – three more than its nearest rival, Jane Campion’s incendiary Western, The Power of the Dog. Yes, Dune leads the way because it really cleans up in the technical categories, but it also claims one of just five spaces on the Best Film shortlist.
Is this a sign that the traditional snobbishness towards sci-fi flicks is subsiding? The case would be even stronger if Villeneuve had managed to crack the Best Direction shortlist.
Best Director is a super-strong category
Three of the nominees here are women: Campion, Titane‘s Julia Ducournau and Happening‘s Audrey Diwan. That’s one fewer than last year, but still a reassuring sign that BAFTA isn’t backtracking after previously nominating just two women ever in this category (Campion for The Piano and The Hurt Locker‘s Kathryn Bigelow).
Surprisingly, there’s no place here for Belfast director Kenneth Branagh, although his film picks up a creditable six nominations elsewhere.
Will Smith gets his first ever BAFTA nomination
At last! This surely cements the King Richard star’s status as hot favourite to win Best Actor at this year’s Oscars. Before then, his nearest contender when the BAFTA winners are announced next month will probably be The Power of the Dog’s Benedict Cumberbatch, who will be rocking a home advantage on the night.
Best Actress throws up some shocks
Pretty shockingly, presumed frontrunners Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos), Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter) and Kristen Stewart (Spencer) are all omitted here. It’s worth noting that this means BAFTA President Prince William definitely won’t have to watch K-Stew collect an award for portraying his late mother, Princess Diana.
Colman’s snub is doubly surprising because her co-star Jessie Buckley makes it onto the Supporting Actress shortlist. Perhaps some voters felt as though awards queen Colman – a four-time BAFTA winner already – has been rewarded enough over the years?
Still, it’s awesome to see Passing‘s Tessa Thompson and Licorice Pizza’s Alana Haim make it into this category, along with House of Gucci‘s Lady Gaga. The latter surely gets the biggest Oscar boost now she’s the only Best Actress contender to have been nominated by every major awards guild.
After Love deservedly gets a lot of love…
BAFTA absolutely should be recognising homegrown talent, so it’s lovely to see this beautiful debut film from writer-director Aleem Khan picking up four nominations. Among them: a Best Director nod for Khan, whose nuanced work on After Love is truly special, and a Leading Actress place for Joanna Scanlan, who gives a heart-wrenchingly tender performance as a woman who discovers that her late husband had a secret family.
…but Censor, sadly, does not
Welsh director Prano Bailey-Bond made a stunning feature-length debut with this incredibly clever horror film, but she doesn’t even get shortlisted in the Outstanding Debut category. Very strange.
The Denzel Washington shutout continues
No, this isn’t a joke: the eight-time Oscar nominee (and two-time winner) has never been nominated for a BAFTA, and his powerful performance in The Tragedy of Macbeth isn’t enough to break his duck. Baffling, tbh.
Kirsten Dunst also gets snubbed
BAFTA has done a brilliant job of rewarding new and relatively unsung talent this year: in the acting categories, 19 of 24 spots go to first-time nominees. These include Woody Norman, the 12-year-old star of C’mon C’mon, and CODA‘s Troy Kotsur, who becomes BAFTA’s first deaf acting nominee. Another notable first-timer: West Side Story‘s Ariana DeBose, whose Best Supporting Actress nod adds to her swelling Oscar momentum.
Still, none of this helps zero-time BAFTA nominee Dunst, who fails to join her three male co-stars (Cumberbatch, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Jesse Plemons) on this year’s shortlists. We’ll have to wait until next week to see if she can break her equally unlikely Oscar duck.
Andrew Garfield and Jamie Dornan miss out
Honestly, Garfield seemed like a shoo-in for a Leading Actor nomination for his revelatory performance in Tick, Tick… Boom! Surely he would also have benefited from the golden glow of Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s box office domination? So, this one is another doubly surprising omission.
Dornan’s chances always seemed a little more precarious, especially since he was competing against his Belfast castmate Ciarán Hinds in the Supporting Actor category, but he should still feel hard done by today.
No farewell nod for Daniel Craig
Craig was given a Leading Actor nomination for his first outing as 007 – 2006’s Casino Royale – and he surely deserves another one for his Bond swansong No Time to Die. Sadly, this isn’t to be, though he can take solace in the fact that the film picks up a respectable five nominations elsewhere.