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5 Things To Expect At The Oscars After Last Night's BAFTA Awards

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist February 17, 2014 at 12:05PM

Less than two weeks remain until the Academy Awards, and Sunday night brought the last major ceremony (excluding the Spirit Awards, which plays in a slightly different sandbox) before then: Oscar's cousin from across the Atlantic, the BAFTAs. As you might have seen, "Gravity" won the most trophies, with six BAFTAs including Best Director and Best British Film, but it was "12 Years A Slave" that came away with the big prize of Best Film, while also picking up Best Actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor. The winners, losers, and everyone else in the British film industry are currently struggling to get over their hangovers, but for everyone else, the question lingers -- how, if at all, does it affect the Oscar race?
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Captain Phillips,

3. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Barkhad Abdi probably won't win, but they made good cases for why they should.
With "Dallas Buyers Club" going unloved from BAFTA, it meant that Oscar frontrunners Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto couldn't win, so there was always going to be a chance for someone else to shine here. Barkhad Abdi was something of a surprise (Michael Fassbender had been tipped by many to take the BAFTA), but clearly a popular one when he won: there was a palpable love for the first-time actor in the room when he took the trophy. His sweet, modest speech made him even more likable, and gave a real reminder to Oscar voters of his remarkable rags-to-riches story. Jared Leto is still the frontrunner, but anyone looking for an excuse not to vote for him, has found one with Abdi. The Best Actor category is tougher. It's arguably a four-way race at this point, with Matthew McConaughey remaining out in front, with the hype around "True Detective" going a long way to remind people of his remarkable career transformation. And had Leonardo DiCaprio, who's been gathering steam in recent weeks, won the BAFTA, McConaughey might have been in more trouble.  As it was, London boy Chiwetel Ejiofor took the prize, and while he certainly has a home advantage that puts him in a better place with BAFTA than the Academy, he also gave the best, and most moving speech of the night. His Oscar competition is stiff, but this keeps him very much in the race.

Philomena

4. Don't expect the Screenplay winners to necessarily match up.
If there's likely to be a huge gulf between Oscar and BAFTA this year, it'll be with the writing awards. "American Hustle" and "Philomena" took the prizes in London, and both are certainly viable as winners with the Academy too. But "American Hustle" had the advantage of not competing against "Her," which wasn't nominated by BAFTA, and which won the WGA and several other precursor awards. As is often the case, the screenplay categories can be something of a consolation prize for movies that people like, but not enough to win in other categories, and Jonze's script fits that description perfectly when it comes to the Academy. That said, it's possible that  a win for "American Hustle" could also fit that description -- aside from Lawrence, it's a dark horse at best in most of its other nominated races, so it could be that voters honor its script in lieu of anything else. Again, it remains a tight race between the two. Meanwhile, "Philomena" is a well-liked script (also a winner at Venice), and very much a contender, but definitely had the home advantage, given Steve Coogan's star status in the UK. But at the Oscars, the script will have to beat WGA-winner "Captain Phillips" (penned by the well-liked Billy Ray, and again a possible consolation prize for a film that may not pick up anything else on the night), and "12 Years A Slave," with "The Wolf Of Wall Street" also in the hunt. Our gut says that Alan Partridge won't quite be an Oscar winner yet.

12 Years A Slave
Fox Searchlight Steve McQueen & Chiwetel Ejiofor on the set of "12 Years a Slave"

5. "12 Years A Slave" had an advantage with BAFTA that it doesn't have with the Academy.
Last night was a nervous evening for those of us who believe that "12 Years A Slave" is a deserving Best Picture winner, as the film lost almost everything it was nominated for before taking the big prize (as it did at the Golden Globes). Fortunately, BAFTA voters came through, but differences in voting systems means that it might not be repeated. It's true that BAFTA have matched up the winner of their top prize every year for the last five (though got it wrong the four before that). But BAFTA judge Best Film by only tallying up the first-choice votes, while the Academy now use a preferential voting system, where voters rank the films, and second and third and fourth choice votes from ballots that went with another movie first also make a difference. It's a system that favors broad support, rather than the movie with the most passionate supporters. With "12 Years A Slave" being a tough watch, perhaps respected more than loved could it lose to something that's more widely liked, like "Gravity" or "American Hustle?" Or will the system actually work in its favor — those who picked another film first wanting to lend some support to the movie, if only for the message it sends?

We'll be finding out the answer to that, and many other questions, just under two weeks from now. But we'll have lots more Oscar coverage between now and then for you. And as always, let us know your thoughts below.

This article is related to: Awards, Academy Awards, Oscars, BAFTAs, Features, Feature


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