By Caryn James | James on Screens February 10, 2011 at 7:26AM
On Sunday, the BAFTAs will be handed out, the last serious awards ceremony before the Oscars. Can the British Academy predict the Oscars? Last year’s best film BAFTA went to The Hurt Locker and best director to Kathryn Bigelow; just saying.
And this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Actor are exactly the same as the BAFTAs, which means Bardem, Bridges, Eisenberg and Franco have no chance against Colin Firth on Sunday. He’s actually playing their king.
The King’s Speech got more BAFTA nominations than any other film, but what makes those awards most interesting to watch are the differences from the Oscars.
Here’s a look at a few of the more intriguing categories:
The five nominees are pretty close to what the Oscars might have been if the category hadn’t been expanded to ten: Black Swan, Inception, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, True Grit. Well, maybe Inception, maybe not. My guess: the prize will go to The King’s Speech because ... their king. If it doesn’t win, its Oscar chances look much shakier.
Good for them; they nominated Christopher Nolan, a true visionary unfairly snubbed by the Oscars. That doesn’t mean he’ll beat the competition: Danny Boyle, Darren Aronofsky, Tom Hooper, David Fincher. The Oscars nominated David O. Russell and the Coen brothers instead of Nolan and Boyle, but none of them are in serious competition anyway. The question -- the same one hovering over the Oscars -- is whether Hooper gets credit for The King’s Speech, or better judgment rules and the award goes to Fincher or Aronofsky.
This is an eminently sensible list of nominees: both Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are nominated. Hailee Steinfeld is here instead of in the supporting category. Noomi Rapace also turns up from Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; that seems a bit much. I’m guessing the award will go to Natalie Portman, but if Bening wins, that could foreshadow an Oscar upset.
SUPPORTING ACTOR AND ACTRESS
Christian Bale, Mark Ruffalo and Geoffrey Rush are all here, along with wildcards Andrew Garfield and Pete Postlethwaite for The Town (a nice posthumous nomination but I can’t imagine he’ll win.) Rush could win if there’s a huge King’s Speech sweep, but that wouldn’t necessarily undermine Bale’s apparent lock on an Oscar.
Frontrunner Melissa Leo isn’t even nominated for a BAFTA, although her Fighter co-star Amy Adams is. Don’t know what that’s about, but it tilts the category Helena Bonham-Carter’s way (their Queen Mum) or maybe toward Lesley Manville for Another Year. Other nominees: Miranda Richardson for Made in Dagenham, Barbara Hershey for Black Swan.
OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER
Worth keeping an eye on for one reason: Exit Through the Gift Shop is nominated, which gives us our best chance to see what stunt Banksy might pull if he wins. Of course the producer Jaime D’Cruz is nominated too, so there may be no need for a stunt at all. (D’Cruz has promised to accept and not let Banksy storm the stage in a monkey mask if they win the Oscar.)
Here’s the bad news: the show’s host once again is talk show host and supposed comedian Jonathan Ross. You know how people used to wonder what the French see in Jerry Lewis? That’s how I feel about the British and Jonathan Ross, whose previous BAFTA hosting stints have been virtual tributes to bad puns. But I like the BAFTAs anyway (sometimes I mute Ross). The show is streamlined, no singing and dancing, minimal banter, much star-gazing.
You do have to sit through some special awards: one to horror-movie star Christopher Lee (you’re not the only one who thought he was already dead) and to the Harry Potter movies (what’s left to say except “Thanks for helping the British economy”? )
The BAFTAs will be shown at 8 ET on BBC America, delayed from the live event, so hide any internet-connected devices if you want to be surprised. If not, you can find backstage video at the BAFTA website.