Now, I’m going to write this blog, live, watching the Baftas. This last year, I have been to the cinema 102 times. Admittedly, 12 of those screenings were Star Wars movies, but I’ve made a real effort to diversify my intake of cinema-watching.
So, I’m going to write this per category, who won, and why they should or should not have won that category.
OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
Won by: I, Daniel Blake
- I agree with this win, outright. I, Daniel Blake was a flawless piece of work. Objective, emotional, scarily grey, and upsettingly true. Despite its twists and depressing turns, it leaves you feeling ready to take on the world. Seeing it win made me cry nearly as much the two hours of the film did.
Won by: Tom Holland
- I say this with a lot less authority on the subject, I do admit. Last year, it went to John Boyega after his work in Attack the Block and The Force Awakens. I agree with this result, however. However, Tom Holland became the best part of the 2 and a half hours of Civil War, and redefined one of Hollywood’s best loved characters.
Won by: Lion
Shoulda been: Arrival
- This is a tough category. Its hard to judge this, as I have not read the content from which it was adapted. As an enjoyable and emotionally engaging film, Lion wins perhaps as the best film. However, surely Arrival, which builds a two hour war epic out of a small short story about a human not understanding an alien.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Won by: Viola Davis
Shoulda been: Hayley Squires
- One of the few things I found enjoyable about the seven-hour long Manchester by the Sea was Michelle Williams. She steals absolutely every scene that she is in and makes the history of Lee and Randi an engaging story. However, Hayley Squires does not let one breath of her performance in I, Daniel Blake go to waste. The scene in which she breaks down in the food bank and almost vomits whilst having her first biscuit in years to stop herself from starvation is iconic and so much about it works, but the film hangs on her for those moments. However, I can’t comment on Viola Davis as I haven’t had a chance to see Fences yet, so I congratulate her and shall aim to see Fences as soon as I can.
Won by: Kubo & the Two Strings
Shoulda been: When Marnie Was There
- Kubo and the Two Strings has received a lot of love, and that’s fine, but I entirely disagree with all of the praise for it. Kubo was dull, uninspiring, and pretentious in showing off its far from original animation methods at the end. I fell asleep about 40 minutes in when I saw it. Absolutely nothing about it stayed with me, even after I gave it a second chance to see it again.
- When Marnie Was hasn’t been nominated, and to be honest, isn’t among Ghibli’s best work. However, whilst Zootropolis and Finding Dory were good
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Won by: The Jungle Book
- Dr Strange was mindblowing with its effects, don’t get me wrong. Rogue One pushed the Star Wars efforts to create boundaries even further again. The Jungle Book however, was immersive, created hundreds of exciting characters and just incredible environment creation. Every single piece of the film was built by the artists and looks more realistic than the real world. And it shows what a great actor Neel Seethi is.
OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER
Won by: Under the Shadow
Shoulda been: The Girl with all the Gifts
- The Girl with all the Gifts is the most original take on the zombie movie we’ve had in years. However, I am not one to comment on this as this was the only one of the nominees I’ve actually seen. Congratulations to the team behind Under the Shadow, I’ve heard nothing but praise.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Won by: Dev Patel
- I cannot sing enough praises for Lion but I’m going to keep trying. Patel carries the film with such grace and plays damaged on screen in a way that I don’t recall seeing done so well before. However, I also would say Hugh Grant was bloody excellent in Florence Foster Jenkins. And Jeff Bridges was chillingly good in Hell or High Water. Aaron Taylor-Johnson‘s performance in Nocturnal Animals still haunts me to this day.
And with the who-we’ve-lost-montage, I shall break. I will edit and update this blog again at the end.
And we’re back.
Won by: Manchester by the Sea
Shoulda been: I, Daniel Blake
- I still haven’t seen Moonlight. Mainly because it doesn’t seem to be out yet? I would love to be able to comment on it. I think that’s worth saying.
- I wasn’t a fan of Manchester by the Sea, I have to admit. I don’t know if it was the plotless character chess game or the twelve and a half hour running time. I agree that it is realistic and part of the quality and pain of the film is achieved in its slow, drawling dialogue. I, Daniel Blake on the other hand was able to be realistic and say something about the world. It was uncomfortably realistic to the extent of changing one’s perception of the world.
Won by: Casey Affleck
Shoulda been: Viggo Mortesen
- Captain Fantastic has had surprisingly few nods this awards season, having had most of its victories during the festival season. I feel like Casey Affleck has been widly overrated for playing an alcoholic by doing a bit of drawl and struggling with eye contact. Viggo Mortesen’s portrayal of Ben in Captain Fantastic was for me, the best performance on screen last year because it made that quirky and out there concept so engaging and so believable. Children don’t react to a pretend Dad the way they do in Captain Fantastic just by the director’s wishes, but also by the strength of the pretend Dad their facing.
Won by: Damien Chazelle
- La La Land is best praised with whichever reviewer said ‘they just don’t make films like this any more’ at the Evening Standard. Which shows just how gutsy, original, and brilliantly fun that La La Land is. Thank you, Damien.
Won by: Emma Stone
Shoulda been: Amy Adams
- From my reflections so far, it seems that I keep giving Arrival second place. Amy Adams’ work in Arrival was utterly brilliant. She fills the screen with simple but layered expressions. She commanded every scene of the film. However, Emma Stone was 100% excellent in La La Land, so fair enough.
Won by: La La Land
- This is tough. Last time I was this passionate about a film so deserving of the best film title was The Social Network. This last year has been brilliant. Arrival left me affected with ways in which I could tangibly think about humanity on a new level. La La Land uplifted in a time where we feel surrounded by real darkness. I, Daniel Blake showed us that very darkness.
- It was always going to be La La Land though wasn’t it? It is genuinely uplifting, exhilarating, and feels like a breath of fresh air in a world where thrillers and action films have to talk about politics and the world. Know what was a really original experience for me? Going to a movie about movies. A movie that I hope inspires people into arts, into a world real power.
I was surprised on reflection by how much I agreed with most of this year’s awards. Pleasingly, La La Land didn’t dominate everything (5 awards including Music and Cinematography isn’t exactly the overkill that Argo achieved a few years back). Real variety in the winners across the board, with all the greats of the last year getting significant notice. Maybe not as much diversity-wise. Despite all the controversy last year, an increase in BAME representation in the nomination was not evidence in the BAFTas this year. I would have to double check the Oscars, where we can hope to see improvement there.