‘Bridge of Spies,’ ‘Carol’ lead 2016 BAFTA Awards with most nods but ‘Big Short’ real winner

Major snubs across the board from Oscar's special relationship
Christian Bale in "The Big Short"

This may sound like a case of déjà vu, but has anyone mentioned how surprising the 2016 Oscar season has been so far? From SAG to PGA to ASC it’s been one head turner after another and early Friday morning BAFTA put their own head-scratching stamp on the proceedings when the EE British Academy Film Awards nominations were announced.

“Bridge of Spies” and “Carol” led all films with nine nominations each, but that is only part of the story. Yes, the love for “Bridge of Spies” in all key categories including Best Film, Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Rylance), Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing was telling. Especially since many were beginning to question whether the film’s silent fanbase on this side of the pond actually existed (it certainly is alive and well in the UK). Actually, a key statistic may indicate how much BAFTA loves “Spies.” The last time Spielberg was nominated for Best Director was in 1999 for “Saving Private Ryan.” He was recognized by the Academy for both “Munich” and “Lincoln” over that same time frame.

As for “Carol,” its bounty was only semi-surprising. The Cannes player was something of a box office disappointment in the UK, but still pulled off Best Film, Best Director (Todd Haynes), Best Adapted Screenplay and acting nods for Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Still, there was another film that matched “Spies” in the “key” categories that indicate universal support and that movie was, shockingly, “The Big Short.”

Paramount Pictures’ late entry earned Best Film, Supporting Actor (Christian Bale), Editing, Adapted Screenplay and, most intriguingly, Best Director (Adam McKay) nominations. While McKay made the cut Todd McCarthy, the helmer of current Best Picture frontrunner “Spotlight,” somehow did not. Granted, “Spotlight” has not been released in the UK yet, but neither has “The Big Short” (they arrive in theaters Jan. 29 and 22nd respectively). The difference in BAFTA reception may be that Paramount’s award machine was more apt to woo BAFTA than UK distributor Entertainment One (granted, a stretch) or, more likely, the film’s subject matter didn’t resonate as much in this context as it does in the United States. A banking scandal that caused the global economic meltdown? Oh, that is something the British people suffered mightily through and can absolutely relate too. A Catholic Church’s cover up of hundreds of priests around the United States that were accused of sexually abusing kids? While the scandal eventually hit the UK it’s not clear it resonated as much across the Atlantic as it did stateside. Or, perhaps they truly thought McKay did a better job since they still awarded “Spotlight” a Best Film nomination.

Fans of “Mad Max: Fury Road” will be disappointed to learn that not only did the picture fail to earn one of five Best Film nominations, but that George Miller wasn’t recognized in the Best Director race. Again, McKay is a late arrival playing spoiler alongside a stronger than expected Spielberg and last year’s champ, Alejandro G. Iñárritu (“The Revenant,” a film the industry has liked more than expected). Miller’s masterpiece earned seven nominations, but they were all in below the line categories such as Cinematography, Editing and Visual Effects. Oscar nomination morning will be a nervous won for cinephiles hoping the Academy recognizes what many critics deemed “the best picture of the year” (including this one).

Keeping all this in mind, here’s a rundown of each BAFTA category noting what surprised and what it means in the context of the upcoming Academy Award nominations.

BAFTA’s EE British Academy Film Awards will be handed out on Feb. 14, 2016 in London.

BEST FILM
THE BIG SHORT Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Brad Pitt
BRIDGE OF SPIES Kristie Macosko Krieger, Marc Platt, Steven Spielberg
CAROL Elizabeth Karlsen, Christine Vachon, Stephen Woolley
THE REVENANT Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Arnon Milchan, Mary Parent, Keith Redmon
SPOTLIGHT Steve Golin, Blye Pagon Faust, Nicole Rocklin, Michael Sugar

Surprise: “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Brooklyn” didn’t make the five and “Bridge of Spies” did.
What it means: As noted across the board, the support for “Bridge of Spies” was shockingly strong from BAFTA.  Lots of Cold War memories that feel close to home?  “Brooklyn” not making the cut was disappointing, but it made Best British Film which might have been “enough” for BAFTA members when they filled out their ballot. As for “Mad Max,” we’ll get to that when we hit Best Director.

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
45 YEARS Andrew Haigh, Tristan Goligher
AMY Asif Kapadia, James Gay-Rees
BROOKLYN John Crowley, Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey, Nick Hornby
THE DANISH GIRL Tom Hooper, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Anne Harrison, Gail Mutrux, Lucinda Coxon
EX MACHINA Alex Garland, Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich
THE LOBSTER Yorgos Lanthimos, Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday, Efthimis Filippou

Surprise: “Amy” in a traditionally narrative category.
What it means: The love for “The Lobster” and “45 Years” is very welcome here, but don’t be surprised if “Amy” eventually wins this race one over expected champs “Brooklyn” or “Ex Machina.”

OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER
ALEX GARLAND (Director) Ex Machina
DEBBIE TUCKER GREEN (Writer/Director) Second Coming
NAJI ABU NOWAR (Writer/Director) RUPERT LLOYD (Producer) Theeb
SEAN MCALLISTER (Director/Producer), ELHUM SHAKERIFAR (Producer) A Syrian Love Story
STEPHEN FINGLETON (Writer/Director) The Survivalist

Surprise: You got me.
What it means: Honestly haven’t sen any of these films besides “Ex Machina,” but, um, congrats to everyone who got nominated?

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
THE ASSASSIN Hou Hsiao-Hsien
FORCE MAJEURE Ruben Östlund
THEEB Naji Abu Nowar, Rupert Lloyd
TIMBUKTU Abderrahmane Sissako
WILD TALES Damián Szifron

Surprise: “The Assassin” (I’ll always be surprised about this one)
What it means: “Wild Tales,” an Oscar nominee last year, will likely win this one.  For those curious, “Son of Saul” was not eligible.

DOCUMENTARY
AMY Asif Kapadia, James Gay-Rees
CARTEL LAND Matthew Heineman, Tom Yellin
HE NAMED ME MALALA Davis Guggenheim, Walter Parkes, Laurie MacDonald
LISTEN TO ME MARLON Stevan Riley, John Battsek, George Chignell, R.J. Cutler
SHERPA Jennifer Peedom, Bridget Ikin, John Smithson

Surprise: “Malala”!
What it means: Ladies and gentlemen, the story of Malala Yousafzai is important and inspirational. That being said, “He Named Me Malala” is not a good movie.  Did the picture make the cut because she currently lives in the UK?  Was “The Look of Silence” not eligible? (Who is on this committee?)

ANIMATED FILM
INSIDE OUT Pete Docter
MINIONS Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda
SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE Mark Burton, Richard Starzak

Surprise: “The Peanuts Movie” or “Good Dinosaur” didn’t make the cut.
What it means: “Shaun” was expected, but “Minions”?  Not so much.  The Illumination blockbuster not only took out the Blue Sky hit, but a Pixar branded one as well. That’s impressive.

DIRECTOR
THE BIG SHORT Adam McKay
BRIDGE OF SPIES Steven Spielberg
CAROL Todd Haynes
THE MARTIAN Ridley Scott
THE REVENANT Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Surprise: Todd McCarthy, “Spotlight” and George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road” snubbed
What it means: If this is Oscar’s five many will question whether the Best Picture frontrunner isn’t “Spotlight,” but actually “The Big Short” (I say it’s another “American Hustle,” but that’s a conversation for the weeks ahead). Moreover, the fact “Mad Max’s” George Miller wasn’t recognized here and the movie didn’t make the top five should make “Fury Road” fans very, very nervous about Miller’s shot for an Oscar nod in either category.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
BRIDGE OF SPIES Matthew Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
EX MACHINA Alex Garland
THE HATEFUL EIGHT Quentin Tarantino
INSIDE OUT Josh Cooley, Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve
SPOTLIGHT Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer

Surprise: None really.
What it means: “Straight Outta Compton” has a good chance of taking “Ex Machina’s” slot when it comes to Oscar, but this is pretty much what you’d expect in this category this year.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
THE BIG SHORT Adam McKay, Charles Randolph
BROOKLYN Nick Hornby
CAROL Phyllis Nagy
ROOM Emma Donoghue
STEVE JOBS Aaron Sorkin

Surprise: “The Martian”
What it means: Two of these three pictures are likely getting Academy Award nominations in this category on Thursday: “The Martian,” “Brooklyn” or “Room.” Which one is on the outside looking in?  This pundit would have said “Room” a few days ago, but perhaps “The Martian” is really losing some steam in the closing weeks? The writers branch historically make the right choices whether its BAFTA or AMPAS. Is Drew Goddard’s script really the right choice comparitively?

LEADING ACTOR
BRYAN CRANSTON Trumbo
EDDIE REDMAYNE The Danish Girl
LEONARDO DICAPRIO The Revenant
MATT DAMON The Martian
MICHAEL FASSBENDER Steve Jobs

Surprise: Bryan Cranston for “Trumbo” over Michael Caine for “Youth” (sort of )
What it means: The fact Cranston made the cut from the Brits is a major sign he’s headed for his first Oscar nomination.  The question is whether it’s Matt Damon or Will Smith for the fifth slot. We’re going with Damon, but there could be a surprise here come Thursday.

LEADING ACTRESS
ALICIA VIKANDER The Danish Girl
BRIE LARSON Room
CATE BLANCHETT Carol
MAGGIE SMITH The Lady in the Van
SAOIRSE RONAN Brooklyn

Surprise: Charlotte Rampling for “45 Years” and Jennifer Lawrence for “Joy”
What it means: The fact that Rampling, a British icon, didn’t earn a nomination has to be disheartening for the “45 Years” team. If she can’t get one from BAFTA it would be stunning if she earns one from The Academy. Incredibly sad since she’s never been nominated.  The question that remains is whether Jennifer Lawrence will take Maggie Smith or Alicia Vikander’s slot.  (One also has to wonder if Focus had put the, um, focus on pushing Vikander for lead actress from the beginning if there would have been so much consternation over where she’ll end up.)

SUPPORTING ACTOR
BENICIO DEL TORO Sicario
CHRISTIAN BALE The Big Short
IDRIS ELBA Beasts of No Nation
MARK RUFFALO Spotlight
MARK RYLANCE Bridge of Spies

Surprise: Mark Ruffalo wins out over Michael Keaton.
What it means: Drop Del Toro, replace him with Sylvesetr Stallone for “Creed” and you’ve got your likely Oscar five.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
ALICIA VIKANDER Ex Machina
JENNIFER JASON LEIGH The Hateful Eight
JULIE WALTERS Brooklyn
KATE WINSLET Steve Jobs
ROONEY MARA Carol

Surprise: Jane Fonda for “Youth” snubbed by Julie Walters for “Brooklyn” (likely)
What it means: This pundit has been championing for over a month that Vikander is going to make Oscar’s Supporting Actress race not for “Danish Girl,” but “Ex Machina.” It looks like that’s exactly how it’s going to go down.

ORIGINAL MUSIC
BRIDGE OF SPIES Thomas Newman
THE HATEFUL EIGHT Ennio Morricone
THE REVENANT Ryuichi Sakamoto, Carsten Nicolai
SICARIO Jóhann Jóhannsson
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS John Williams

Surprise: “Carol”
What it means: “The Revenant” isn’t eligible for Oscar so the recognition here is nice to see, but Carter Burwell being snubbed for his “Carol” score is disheartening.

CINEMATOGRAPHY
BRIDGE OF SPIES Janusz Kamiński
CAROL Ed Lachman
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD John Seale
THE REVENANT Emmanuel Lubezki
SICARIO Roger Deakins

Surprise: None really.
What it means:  These were also your ASC nominees earlier this week. This is likely your Oscar five in this category.

EDITING
THE BIG SHORT Hank Corwin
BRIDGE OF SPIES Michael Kahn
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Margaret Sixel
THE MARTIAN Pietro Scalia
THE REVENANT Stephen Mirrione

Surprise: “Bridge of Spies” over “Spotlight” or even “Carol”
What it means: Boy, BAFTA really loved “Bridge of Spies” (really, that’s what it means).

PRODUCTION DESIGN
BRIDGE OF SPIES Adam Stockhausen, Rena DeAngelo
CAROL Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Colin Gibson, Lisa Thompson
THE MARTIAN Arthur Max, Celia Bobak
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Rick Carter, Darren Gilford, Lee Sandales

Surprise: “Crimson Peak” and “Cinderella” snubbed
What it means: This category is very much in flux as three potential Oscar nominees, “Crimson Peak,” “Cinderella” and “The Danish Girl” weren’t in BAFTA’s final five.

COSTUME DESIGN
BROOKLYN Odile Dicks-Mireaux
CAROL Sandy Powell
CINDERELLA Sandy Powell
THE DANISH GIRL Paco Delgado
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Jenny Beavan

Surprise: “Brooklyn”
What it means: Great nomination for “Mad Max: Fury Road” over potential players such as “Star Wars” and “Crimson Peak.”

MAKE UP & HAIR
BROOKLYN Morna Ferguson, Lorraine Glynn
CAROL Jerry DeCarlo, Patricia Regan
THE DANISH GIRL Jan Sewell
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Lesley Vanderwalt, Damian Martin
THE REVENANT Sian Grigg, Duncan Jarman, Robert Pandini

Surprise: Not many of these are Oscar possibilities.
What it means: The only two nominees here who qualify based on the Academy’s shortlist are “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Revenant.”

SOUND
BRIDGE OF SPIES Drew Kunin, Richard Hymns, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Scott Hecker, Chris Jenkins, Mark Mangini, Ben Osmo, Gregg Rudloff, David White
THE MARTIAN Paul Massey, Mac Ruth, Oliver Tarney, Mark Taylor
THE REVENANT Lon Bender, Chris Duesterdiek, Martin Hernandez, Frank A. Montaño, Jon Taylor, Randy Thom
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS David Acord, Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio, Matthew Wood, Stuart Wilson

Surprise: None
What it means: These five will likely get at least a Sound Editing or Sound Mixing design with “The Hateful Eight” being the missing Oscar player.

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
ANT-MAN Jake Morrison, Greg Steele, Dan Sudick, Alex Wuttke
EX MACHINA Mark Ardington, Sara Bennett, Paul Norris, Andrew Whitehurst
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Andrew Jackson, Dan Oliver, Tom Wood, Andy Williams
THE MARTIAN Chris Lawrence, Tim Ledbury, Richard Stammers, Steven Warner
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Chris Corbould, Roger Guyett, Paul Kavanagh, Neal Scanlan

Surprise: “The Revenant”
What it means: The effects in “The Revenant” – especially the bear – are pretty impressive. Something tells me it will make the five over “Ant-Man” or possibly “The Martian.”

BRITISH SHORT ANIMATION
EDMOND Nina Gantz, Emilie Jouffroy
MANOMAN Simon Cartwright, Kamilla Kristiane Hodol
PROLOGUE Richard Williams, Imogen Sutton

BRITISH SHORT FILM
ELEPHANT Nick Helm, Alex Moody, Esther Smith
MINING POEMS OR ODES Callum Rice, Jack Cocker
OPERATOR Caroline Bartleet, Rebecca Morgan
OVER Jörn Threlfall, Jeremy Bannister
SAMUEL-613 Billy Lumby, Cheyenne Conway

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With over a decade of experience in the movie industry, Ellwood survived working for two major studios, has written for Variety, MSN and the LA Times and co-founded HitFix, Inc. serving as its first Editor-in-Chief and President. Ellwood spends his time relaxing hitting 3’s on the basketball court and following his beloved Clippers.
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