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5 Takeaways From BAFTA Noms: Lily Gladstone’s Snub, ‘Barbie’s’ Underperformance and More

The BAFTA film nominations offered jaw-droppers and a couple of head-scratchers with their inclusions (and exclusions) this year.

Always an interesting precursor to the Oscars, the past few years have produced less overlap between them, partially due to jury intervention in compiling the nominees. That makes deciphering what the BAFTAs mean to the overall awards landscape more complicated since the juries are only in place for directing and acting races, where most shockers are seen.

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Oscar nominations closed earlier this week, so there’s no direct effect on voters; instead, BAFTA noms serve as mere clues to what we’ll see when nominations are announced.

Here are five things we learned from BAFTA nominations.

“Barbie” supporters don’t seem to be international voters.

BARBIE, Margot Robbie as Barbie, 2023. © Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection
“Barbie”

Much energy has been spent on interpreting the results of the Golden Globes, selected by an international voting body, in which “Barbie” underperformed. It only won original song and the newly created box office achievement category (no correlation to an Oscar award). At the same time, at Critics Choice, the meta-comedy pulled in a respectable six trophies, including original screenplay and a slew of techs. However, with BAFTA, after landing in 15 categories on the longlist, it mustered just five nods, which didn’t include best film or directing. It’s not surprising a movie about a toy doll wouldn’t hit on all cylinders with international voters, and it’s a sign the voting demographic may not respond as enthusiastically as their domestic counterparts. More pessimistic observers might even think it signals a potential snub for Greta Gerwig, the first woman to helm a billion-dollar movie. Would that create a similar situation as when Ben Affleck missed out on “Argo?” Or, as noted during the Variety Awards Circuit Podcast roundtable this week, is the fact that “Barbie” has made it this far impressive enough?

It’s worth remembering another film that didn’t do too well at the BAFTAs, missing the best film and directing — the best picture of 2022, “CODA.” Even last year’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once” pulled off a seven-win Oscar night after only winning a sole BAFTA trophy for editing.

Watch out for both Jonathan Glazer and Justine Triet in best director, which helps Sandra Hüller.

Anatomy of a Fall Zone of Interest
Anatomy of a Fall Zone of Interest

Aside from the omissions of Martin Scorsese (“Killers of the Flower Moon”), Yorgos Lanthimos (“Poor Things”) and Greta Gerwig (“Barbie”), what makes the directing lineup even more difficult to analyze is guessing who the top two vote-getters are. According to rules, the top two directors, regardless of gender, are automatically nominated, with the rest decided by a jury. The safe assumption is Nolan was among those for “Oppenheimer,” but who is standing alongside him is up for debate.

I’m most intrigued by the entries of Jonathan Glazer for “The Zone of Interest,” and Justine Triet, who expertly conveys the strength of “Anatomy of a Fall” in the awards race. In conversations with awards strategists and voters, many believe both international filmmakers could be among the Oscar-nominated directors. But, who they would replace is what’s confusing. Could it be any of the three snubbed auteurs? Possibly.

Interestingly, both being included might be the most vital clue that actress Sandra Hüller, who stars in both “Anatomy” and “Zone,” could be headed for historic double acting noms for her stunning performances. It would be the first time an actor is double-nominated for two non-English language performances.

And regarding Bradley Cooper’s inclusion for “Maestro,” aside from DGA, the multi-hyphenate has been among the nominated directors at CCA, Golden Globes and now BAFTA. Is he safer than the online discourse is predicting? He definitely should not be counted out.

Lily Gladstone’s best actress snub presents a significant hurdle to overcome.

Lily Gladstone - Killers of the Flower Moon
Lily Gladstone - Killers of the Flower Moon

A huge blow was delivered to Lily Gladstone’s Oscar campaign with her BAFTA snub for “Killers of the Flower Moon,” as her closest competitor, Emma Stone from “Poor Things,” landed recognition. Gladstone won the Golden Globe in actress (drama) while Stone took home actress (comedy). Moreover, at Critics Choice, Stone took home the lead actress prize, showcasing a potential tight race between the two critically lauded performers.

With Gladstone out at BAFTA, that leaves only the SAG Awards as the last chance to garner enough momentum to win the category. Since the jury methods were introduced, the best actress race has been the most upended by the changes. In 2020, BAFTA only nominated two of the Oscars’ actresses — Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”) and eventual BAFTA and Oscar winner Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”). If Carey Mulligan hadn’t been BAFTA-snubbed for “Promising Young Woman,” would she have built on her CCA won and taken the Oscar? The world may never know.

In 2021, none of the Oscar best actress nominees were nominated, which left the Academy voters to their own devices and gave the prize to Jessica Chastain for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” the only winner in the modern era to achieve it without BAFTA (when the film has been eligible).

Gladstone’s snub is frustrating because it’s a fair assumption she was among the top six vote-getters, and the jury opted for three others in her place. According to BAFTA rules, the top three highest vote-getters are nominated in the acting categories, with the jury choosing the other three.

Even if Gladstone manages to win SAG, the BAFTA Awards will provide an opportunity for Stone to continue her momentum, unless double nominee Sandra Hüller manages to sneak out a win, which is possible considering how well “Anatomy of a Fall” did with the group.

“The Holdovers” is the dark horse best picture contender no one has fully realized.

The Holdovers
The Holdovers

Alexander Payne’s heartfelt dramedy has flown under the radar as a contender since debuting at the Telluride Film Festival, with industry pundits and journalists focusing on “Barbie,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Oppenheimer” and “Poor Things.” The movie landed seven notable noms with the British voting bloc, including among the top five movies recognized for best film. With two acting frontrunners, Paul Giamatti and Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and a viable contender for original screenplay, how could it not be considered an option to upset in the top race? That also could benefit breakout star Dominic Sessa, whose BAFTA nod could signal he’s on his way to recognition.

oppenheimer
“Oppenheimer”

In case you didn’t believe it, “Oppenheimer” is the one to beat.

The only film nominated at every major guild and televised ceremony (so far) is “Oppenheimer.” Christopher Nolan’s biographical drama led the BAFTA tally with 13 nominations, nearly maxing out its initial 15 longlist mentions. It only missed the categories for special visual effects (which didn’t make the Oscars bakeoff list) and casting (not an Oscar category). It could duplicate that same leading number at the Academy Awards nominations on Tuesday.

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