As the British Academy Awards approach (the BAFTAs take place on February 16 at London's Royal Opera House), don't count out wily Oscar campaigner Harvey Weinstein's Best Picture Oscar contender "Philomena," which scored well with BAFTA nominations and could gain a boost on its home turf during prime Oscar voting season. (Final ballots will be available on Friday, February 14; completed ballots are due by 5 pm on Tuesday, February 25.) There are several hundred Brits in the Academy.
Weinstein brought the real life Philomena Lee not only to the Golden Globes but to Washington, D.C., to push for adoption reforms with Senators Claire McCaskill and Chris Murphy.
Will Stephen Frears and Steve Coogan's "Philomena" beat Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity," which leads with 11 BAFTA nominations, or Brit helmer Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" for Best Picture, or settle for Best British Film? Both "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave" will pick up some BAFTA wins--Brit Chiwetel Ejiofor could get a boost if he wins Best Actor, and Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o could score in the supporting category.
Will Dame Judi Dench take it from Australian thespian Cate Blanchett, who is the Oscar frontrunner for her role in "Blue Jasmine"? (See my BAFTA picks here.) More likely is homeboy Coogan, who could beat American John Ridley ("12 Years a Slave") for Adapted Screenplay. (Our current TOH! Oscar predictions are here; our interview with Coogan is here.)
Check out this NYT Anatomy of a Scene video featurette on "Philomena," as director Stephen Frears comments on the scene where Philomena (Dench) visits Washington DC and journalist Martin Sixsmith (Coogan), looking for info about her long missing son. And in the below Indiewire video interview, Frears and Coogan join other award season directors including Cuaron and McQueen.