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Baftas 2024 predictions: who will win, who should win

The contenders (clockwise from top left): Maestro, Poor Things, Oppenheimer, Anatomy of a Fall, and Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon
The contenders (clockwise from top left): Maestro, Poor Things, Oppenheimer, Anatomy of a Fall, and Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon

The British Academy Film Awards are rarely ones to rock the boat, and this year’s nominees are a perfect case in point – the Oscar-season equivalent of a serene paddle around a frost-fringed pond, with moorhens honking picturesquely on the bank.

Sure, those inclined to do so could dredge the scene for snubs: no Leonardo DiCaprio or Andrew Scott in Best Actor; Barbie’s Greta Gerwig, Poor Things’s Yorgos Lanthimos and even Martin Scorsese missing in Best Director, and so on. But the biggest upset wasn’t upsetting at all: it was that voters found space in the Leading and Supporting Actress line-ups for Fantasia Barrino and Danielle Brooks from the forthcoming musical version of The Color Purple, which after the Golden Globes looked a lost cause.

With an entire month still to go until the ceremony, the campaigning is only just warming up, but a picture of where things might land on Sunday February 18 is starting to coalesce. So to labour the boating metaphor to sinking point, let me stick my oar in early: here’s who looks likely to win, and who should.

Best film

Oppenheimer
Oppenheimer

Should win: Oppenheimer

It’s been said before, but an experimental drama about nuclear fission becoming a huge summer multiplex hit is the most exciting thing to happen to cinema in years.

Will win: Oppenheimer

The combined artistic and commercial clout of Nolan’s film makes it seemingly unbeatable: what more could the British film industry want?


Outstanding British Film

Should win: The Zone of Interest

This is a largely impressive, almost dizzyingly wide-ranging list: British cinema had a fine year. But in terms of artistry, craftsmanship and shattering impact, Jonathan Glazer’s Auschwitz drama is leagues ahead.

Will win: Poor Things

Wild performances, verbal fireworks, dreamy world-building of are all irresistible: if Yorgos Lanthimos’s gothic romp doesn’t win Best Film, a de facto silver medal here awaits.


Best Director                                                                  

  • Andrew Haigh, All of Us Strangers

  • Justine Triet, Anatomy of a Fall

  • Alexander Payne, The Holdovers

  • Bradley Cooper, Maestro

  • Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer

  • Jonathan Glazer, The Zone of Interest

Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan - Universal Pictures

Should win: Christopher Nolan

Lots of skilful handling of tricky material in the list above, but Nolan’s turning of a physicist biopic into box-office-shaking spectacle with substance is the heftiest achievement.

Will win: Christopher Nolan

Britain’s most successful working director has been nominated in this category only once before, for Dunkirk – and then lost – which is so obviously mad that members should be falling over themselves this year to make sure he wins outright.


Leading Actor

  • Bradley Cooper, Maestro

  • Colman Domingo, Rustin

  • Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers

  • Barry Keoghan, Saltburn

  • Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer

  • Teo Yoo, Past Lives

Cillian Murphy
Cillian Murphy - Axelle/Bauer-Griffin

Should win: Cillian Murphy

Do you pick Murphy, the seasoned supporting artist seizing his moment in the spotlight, or Giamatti, distilling everything he does best down to its funniest, most moving essence? A close thing, but the steely force of Murphy’s work should clinch it.

Will win: Cillian Murphy

Murphy wins at the Baftas, Giamatti wins at the Oscars, and everyone’s happy (except the other nominees, obviously).


Leading Actress

  • Fantasia Barrino, The Color Purple

  • Sandra Hüller, Anatomy of a Fall

  • Carey Mulligan, Maestro

  • Vivian Oparah, Rye Lane

  • Margot Robbie, Barbie

  • Emma Stone, Poor Things

Emma Stone in Poor Things
Emma Stone in Poor Things

Should win: Emma Stone

Her five rivals are excellent, but in Poor Things, Stone covers every note they hit collectively and more.

Will win: Emma Stone

Yes, Stone won here once before seven years ago for La La Land, but with a performance this courageously unhinged, no Bafta member is going to feel a second is superfluous.


Supporting Actor

  • Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon

  • Robert Downey Jr, Oppenheimer

  • Jacob Elordi, Saltburn

  • Ryan Gosling, Barbie

  • Paul Mescal, All of Us Strangers

  • Dominic Sessa, The Holdovers

Robert Downey Jr in Oppenheimer
Robert Downey Jr in Oppenheimer - Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures

Should win: Robert Downey Jr

After a decade-plus of Downey the Marvel Star, Oppenheimer reminded the world what an extraordinarily compelling actor he could be too.

Will win: Robert Downey Jr

There are few career shifts awards season loves more than this.


Supporting Actress

  • Emily Blunt, Oppenheimer

  • Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple

  • Claire Foy, All of Us Strangers

  • Sandra Hüller, The Zone of Interest

  • Rosamund Pike, Saltburn

  • Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

Dominic Sessa and Da’Vine Joy Randolph in The Holdovers
Dominic Sessa and Da’Vine Joy Randolph in The Holdovers - Seacia Pavao

Should win: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

One of those rare technically accomplished turns that looks so effortless, Randolph’s performance in The Holdovers is its secret weapon.

Will win: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

Rosamund Pike’s uproarious faded It Girl would be a fun alternative, but the greater range of Randolph’s role feels decisive.


Original Screenplay

  • Anatomy of a Fall

  • Barbie

  • The Holdovers

  • Maestro

  • Past Lives

Should win: The Holdovers

Endlessly funny on the surface with all manner of clever thematic rumblings underneath, David Hemingson’s period comedy knows when to show off and when to let the craft speak for itself.

Will win: Anatomy of a Fall

A courtroom thriller that makes you feel incredibly smart even though you have no idea whether the accused is actually guilty or not: it’s hard to ignore screenwriting as relentlessly ingenious as this.


Adapted Screenplay

  • All of Us Strangers

  • American Fiction

  • Oppenheimer

  • Poor Things

  • The Zone of Interest

The Zone of Interest director Jonathan Glazer
The Zone of Interest director Jonathan Glazer - Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Should win: The Zone of Interest

Borrowing just a single line of dialogue from the Martin Amis source novel, this is a masterclass in turning literature to cinematic ends.

Will win: Poor Things

But then, in a very different way, so is this – and voters will find it hard to resist a pacy literary adaptation whose every line has been honed to maximum quotableness.


Film Not in the English Language

  • 20 Days in Mariupol

  • Anatomy of a Fall

  • Past Lives

  • Society of the Snow

  • The Zone of Interest

The Zone of Interest
The Zone of Interest

Should win: The Zone of Interest

The Holocaust has been addressed in cinema many times before, but Glazer’s utterly original approach makes it comprehensible in a way no viewer will ever forget.

Will win: Anatomy of a Fall

The most successful French film at the UK box office in more than a decade, Fall has considerable crossover appeal – and that works on Bafta voters too.


Animated Film

  • The Boy and the Heron

  • Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget

  • Elemental

  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

The Boy and the Heron
The Boy and the Heron

Should win: The Boy and the Heron

The film which looks likely to be Studio Ghibli’s last is an ideal swan-song for the studio, revisiting all of their strong suits in ways that feel glisteningly fresh and strange.

Will win: The Boy and the Heron

Bafta goes off the Hollywood piste in this category pleasingly often, and this would be an especially good year in which to do so.


Documentary

  • 20 Days in Mariupol

  • American Symphony

  • Beyond Utopia

  • Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie

  • Wham!

20 Days in Mariupol
20 Days in Mariupol - AP

Should win: 20 Days in Mariupol

Perhaps not a vintage year for documentaries overall, but Mstyslav Chernov’s chronicle of the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows the form at its most strikingly urgent.

Will win: 20 Days in Mariupol

Ripped-from-the-headlines topicality should play well here, especially when three of its rivals are relatively soft-edged celebrity portraits.


Outstanding British Debut

  • Blue Bag Life

  • Bobi Wine: The People’s President

  • Earth Mama

  • How to Have Sex

  • Is There Anybody Out There?

Should win: How to Have Sex

The best debuts are the ones that make you excited to see what their makers’ second, third, even tenth films might look like, and Molly Manning Walker’s felt like the first chirp from an exciting new voice.

Will win: How to Have Sex

Walker’s film is the only nominee to appear in other categories, which strongly indicates a breath of support its rivals lack.

EE Rising Star Award (voted for by the public)

  • Phoebe Dynevor

  • Ayo Edebiri

  • Jacob Elordi

  • Mia McKenna-Bruce

  • Sophie Wilde

Jacob Elordi and Cailee Spaeny in Priscilla
Jacob Elordi and Cailee Spaeny in Priscilla

Should win: Jacob Elordi

A strong line-up in which, unusually, no nominee feels too risen to qualify, but Elordi’s extraordinary current trajectory (Guillermo del Toro’s Frankenstein and the new Paul Schrader next) means he fits the title best.

Will win: Jacob Elordi

Elordi’s high heartthrob value and recent grabby roles in Saltburn and Priscilla will surely make him the favourite in a public vote.


The winners of the Bafta 2024 Film Awards will be announced on February 18, broadcast on BBC One and BBC iPlayer

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