Kill (long-)List: why the BAFTA 2012 film nominations have no Shame
I’m baffled by BAFTA.
Another year, another long-list of BAFTA film nominees which yet again shows up our national cinema sucking up to Hollywood celebrity in a pathetic attempt at reflected glory.
In case you were wondering, the B is for British, and yet AFTA continues to forget that, chasing after the Oscars’ sloppy seconds. Even rebranding itself by holding the awards before the Oscars can’t escape the fact that, in terms of importance, the AFTAs always come after.
Check out the BAFTA 2012 nominees, and take a gander at the barking-mad divide between Best Film and Outstanding British Film, which patronises homegrown talent with a pat on the back and an “oh, didn’t you do well?” Meanwhile, while everybody’s obsessed with trying to second-guess what the Americans will go for (Moneyball? The Descendants? Midnight In Paris?), the BAFTA voters are forced to ghettoise probably the greatest year for British cinema in recent memory.
For my money, many of the British films not nominated for Best Film – especially Shame and Tyrannosaur – could give the Americans a run for their money, and yet I’d wager that the final nominees will be only a Kevin or a Tinker Tailor away from Xeroxing the AMPAS’ selection.
And yet British films live in an awkward no man’s land where cosy, Weinstein-esque biopics like The Iron Lady or My Week With Marilyn are nominated in both categories, while the coruscating, innovative Kill List gets nothing.
No other country has this problem. The French, the Spanish, even the Aussies, all have proud national cinema awards and consign Hollywood movies – rightly – to fight over a single award. Hell, BAFTA’s telly awards manages to do the same; imagine the outcry if it suddenly started awarding everything to Dexter instead of Downton?
So why does the film wing of BAFTA behave like Hollywood’s bitch? There’s an argument that the American studios use all of our actors and craftsmen so, indirectly, we’re supporting our own. That’s true – but there’s a cultural side to things as well. The BAFTAs should have a remit to big up the best homegrown films that audiences might not otherwise find. Let’s put it this way: no other British awards body, whatever the discipline, would ever nominate something about baseball as being amongst the best in its field.
As an aside, the BAFTAs can’t even get their American choices right. The Tree Of Life has received one measly nomination (admittedly for cinematography, its strongest suit). This is the same The Tree Of Life that won the Palme D’Or and cleaned up on most critics’ end-of-year lists. Oh, and if you think it’s not celebrity enough for BAFTA, its star is Brad Pitt.
As journo Mark Salisbury tweeted this morning, “that’s what happens when you don’t send out screeners.” Which says it all – it’s all one unseemly cattle-market, in which only the noisiest, pushiest bulls get heard.
I say: enough bull. Isn’t it time for BAFTA to become a British Bulldog instead?