As the curtains close on 2014’s year in film (from a British Academy perspective), it is time to look at the eventual winners of the iconic golden masks. To compare them against my own informed choices and to give the Academy members some feedback on their performance as Judge Judy and Executioner.
Out of the 18 awards that I focused on, the result of 10 matched with my own choices (as can be seen above), but it is the degree with which the other eight are wrong that I am concerned with here so lets have a look at them in detail…
Grade A – Top of the class.
Receiving the top mark are obviously all of the films that matched my own choices. These include all four acting awards and all of the production and sound awards. However I have also included one award that differed from my own choice (it wasn’t even my second place). Richard Linklater was honoured with a Best Director gong for Boyhood and whilst I would personally have given it to Wes Anderson (Grand Budapest Hotel) or Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), Linklater is just as deserving. Boyhood was a mammoth personal task for Linklater and his cast and crew and truly broke some boundaries. Leading actor Ellar Coltrane’s speech when helping to collect an award for Linklater very eloquently explained why, but more of that later.
Grade B – Keep at it.
These ratings were reserved for those films that were either my second choice or where I could fully understand why they might be preferred (whilst still disagreeing). The Theory of Everything was almost a given for Outstanding British Film and this being the BAFTAs and not the Oscars it wasn’t a big surprise to see the quirky Lego Movie triumph over Disney’s Big Hero 6. I was probably a little more surprised by Grand Budapest Hotel taking the Original Music award though when Hans Zimmer’s beautiful orchestral score to Interstellar seemed much more BAFTA-like.
Grade C – Could do better.
This is where the choices start to disappoint me a little. Only one award fell into this category, but it is probably the most important award of the night, Best Film. Whilst I can see the terrific artistry that Linklater put into this very normal tale, I felt that it wasn’t the best film overall. Best Director, Supporting Actress and maybe even Cinematography, but not best film. I like to think that a best film bears up to multiple viewings, but I canno see myself sitting through its almost three hours any time soon. Unlike the marvellous Grand Budapest Hotel and Whiplash.
Grade D – Detention
This is where the academy are just plain wrong. Only the Outstanding British Debut gets this dubious honour and it couldn’t have been a worse decision. Not because the winner , Pride, is a bad film. It is a very good film and one that I would watch again. But it is a very traditional and safe British film. It is The Full Monty, Calendar Girls and Made in Dagenham. All very good films, but all following a very safe formula. Comparing Pride to the much riskier, technically more difficult and infinitely more interesting Kajaki, ’71 and Lilting is chalk and cheese. In fact, even the outsider Northern Soul feels like a more outstanding debut.
The choice of host, guests and award givers was a mixed bag. Stephen Fry was, as always, funny, risque and a joy to watch. Though there were a few dodgy moments (like the horribly contrived Birdman kisses), these were easily made up for with some great one-liner introductions. However Stephen’s best moment had to be when Britain’s most eloquent man introduced the next award giver as TOM FUCKING CRUISE!
It seemed that most award givers were basically the nominees for other awards. A good way to ensure they attend the show I suppose, but less of a spectacle for the viewer. One of the exceptions though was Cuba Gooding Jr, who had me chuckling for a few minutes.
The worst element of the spectacle however would have to be Kasabian playing to kick off the ceremony. Not a single head-bobbing, foot-tapping or sing-alonging from anyone in the crowd made it an awkward segway to the main action and something I think should be reconsidered for future years.
One notable absence though was on the roll of honour for those servants of film who have left this mortal coil in the last year. He may be better known for TV than his film work, but Rik Mayall was a British institution and it is our Academy after all.
As always we get subjected to the endless thankings of families, agents and bank managers. But in between the acceptance-by-numbers we did get a few gems. Eddy Redmayne regaling his less than perfect experience of the BAFTAs last year when he created a vomit masterpiece all over the carpet of the Albert Hall. Mike Leigh doing his best not to say anything too inflammatory and then ending with “To those boneheads, philistines and uninspired skinflints who said no… thank you for keeping away and may you all rot in hell.”
But the best speeches of the nigh came from two of the youngest speakers. Jack O’Connell, who was the typical cheeky-chappy we all know him as from Skins (though a world away from his two 2014 films; ’71 and Unbroken), joked with the presenter about taking the set home with him and then wished the audience a good night, resulting in Fry sarcastically suggesting that O’Connell had a ‘crippling lack of confidence’.
The final word though goes to Ellar Coltrane. Describing how Linklater had proved that life without anything explosive or tragic could still be worth exploring, therefore “to have this movie recognised alongside such grand pieces of art means life itself must be more exciting than we let on.”
OVERALL GRADE: B+
So that is it. Congratulations to all the winners and roll on the Oscars 🙂