As BAFTA have released their film awards nominations, I thought it would only be right to have a quick rundown of the more popular categories where I feel I can offer an informed opinion. I will be hesitating to put an accumulator bet on these though, you can never tell…
Avatar won the Golden Globe for Best Drama, but as much as I loved the art direction, the story was disappointing and left me unmoved, while Up in the Air turned out to be a bit of a vapour trail after the interesting premise it started with. An Education was an enjoyable piece of heritage cinema, but the power was in the lead performance. I don’t think it competes with the visceral reality of The Hurt Locker, or the disturbing and moving subject of a schoolgirl insulating herself against a poisonous homelife in Precious. I think the latter has the edge.
It’s nice to see a thoughtful sci-fi film going against the typecast British movies so often found in awards categories, and so it’s got to be Moon. Essentially a ‘man-in-a-room’ scenario, it’s laudable how it still holds the attention with only one actor throughout most of the movie. Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
This is a tricky one. Moon is such an accomplished piece of work from Duncan Jones, who has previously but one short film to his name. Although I’ve not seen Mugabe and the White African, I’m going to choose it for the sheer courage and audacity it must have taken to film covertly in a country where filming is banned. For a debut film this is astonishing, as is the fact they shot on bulky and highly visible cameras, moving safehouse each night to escape detection. Director
You want me to say Cameron, don’t you? Yes, he has created a new system of filmmaking in 3D, but as a director you are responsible for the story as well, and Avatar just fell down in the onslaught of 3D computer generated ecstasy. I’m going for Neill Blomkamp for District 9, who wrapped effective social commentary in the clothing of a highly original sci-fi movie. Best Original Screenplay
I’m not A Serious Man, but I’m going to choose it for the wonderfully bizarre characters that the Coen brothers have created in this little gem. Larry Gopnik is the increasingly bewildered man of the title, and I will always remember the deliciously evil Sy Ableman, soothing Gopnik into his psychological grave. Fantastic stuff. Film Not in the English Language
I really liked the simplicity of Let the Right One In. It’s sparse locations swathed in white snow, or plain interiors of drab dwellings feed the tender and intense emotions at the heart of the relationship between the two children. It’s a perfect little film. That’s not to say that A Prophet or The White Ribbon are not in with a chance here though. Animated Film
I enjoyed the escapist fun of Up and to a degree, the dark fairytale qualities of Coraline, but Fantastic Mr Fox was charming with its stop-motion animation technique and I do like a good Roald Dahl tale. Leading Actor
Now I’m no music man, so I’ve not heard of the Crazy Horse that Jeff Bridges has played to such acclaim. I’m no Blockhead, but I do know who Ian Dury was, and it’s evident that Andy Serkis has done a sterling job in bringing the man to life in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. I think though, it’s time to pay a man his dues, and Colin Firth must be recognised for his best role in years as A Single Man, quietly grieving the loss of his partner, albeit in unusually fine tailoring from director Tom Ford. Leading Actress
For those of you who have been making room for me in the Tower of London for so far not mentioning An Education, I would like to ask for a stay of execution to see Carey Mulligan take the award. She carries the film with her astoundingly assured performance for someone of her age, she made the character of Jenny completely believable as someone who, at times, was the most mature character on screen. Production Design
Likewise, for those of you about to string me up from the nearest spirit tree, I’m going to give this to Avatar for the spectacular detail that has gone into realising the planet Pandora. I’m still fascinated by the bioluminescent lichen that glows when you step on it. Very disco. Cinematography
Both District 9 and The Hurt Locker employ a style reminiscent of news footage, with dramatic, high key exteriors parched by the sun. But it’s the moody greys, slick blacks and muted browns of The Road that I would like to see win. The beautifully sharp, side-lit, naturalistic close-ups and warm interiors contrast with the feeling of damp chill from the muted exteriors. The forest fire is a thing of beauty, a riot of orange against deep, inky blackness. Special Visual Effects
Not surprisingly, this I have to give to Avatar. It’s the work behind the scenes rather than just the work evident on screen that should be considered. Whatever you think of the film, you can’t deny the massive technological leap that was made to create this leviathan, which today became the highest grossing movie of all time. That’s all for now folks. You can see the full list of nominees on the Bafta website.