Predicting this year’s Baftas means, for the first time in a while, solely predicting the Baftas. They are not secretly predictions for the Oscars, or any other, bigger and more glamorous transatlantic awards show.
After so many years of the Baftas pointlessly emulating the Academy Awards and overlooking many of the homegrown films they’re meant to celebrate, we finally have a representative and interesting line-up of nominees.
It also makes predicting who’ll win that much trickier – and a lot more fun.
Unusually, the Oscars are in the same boat this year, with few films or actors feeling like shoo-ins even this late in the awards calendar. Surprises are inevitable. Even more so at Bafta, with Nomadland feeling just as likely to sweep the board as something far smaller like Rocks.
Ahead of this weekend’s ceremony, which screens on Sunday (11 April) at 7pm on BBC One, we’ve predicted the probable wins and possible shockers for the major categories, as well as the names and films that got overlooked.
Promising Young Woman
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Will win: Nomadland
Should win: Nomadland
Shoulda got a look-in: Minari (and a few others)
This is the one category at this year’s Baftas that could do with being a little more daring. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is its only real stinker, but it’s difficult not to feel underwhelmed considering the vast number of films represented elsewhere. Sound of Metal, Minari, Judas and the Black Messiah and Another Round are just some of the movies that could have justifiably slotted in here over something like The Father or The Mauritanian, neither of which will be remembered once this year’s awards season is over. Of the nominees, Nomadland would be deserving of a win, and will probably take home the trophy. Chloe Zhao’s film, about a nomadic traveller (Frances McDormand) roaming America, is touching, tender and nourishing. Even if we weren’t all confined to our houses, its use of open space would have inspired awe.
Outstanding British Film
Calm with Horses
Promising Young Woman
Will win: Promising Young Woman
Should win: His House
Shoulda got a look-in: Lynn + Lucy
Critiquing the universally strong line-up of nominees for Outstanding British Film feels a bit like splitting hairs. It would have been nice, though, to see something for Lynn + Lucy. Fyzal Boulifa’s feature debut is a gruelling, melancholy affair driven by toxic friendships and suspicion, and deserves more eyes on it. Promising Young Woman, the most high-profile of this category’s nominees, will probably win, despite its star, Carey Mulligan, missing out on a Best Actress nod. It won’t be an objectionable choice, but the film is deeply flawed. Its takes on misogyny, trauma and the police are narrowly and often questionably sketched, and it’d be disappointing to see far more assured work (notably the harrowing and imaginative His House) miss out as a result of its victory.
Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
Shannon Murphy, Babyteeth
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
Jasmila Zbanic, Quo Vadis, Aida?
Sarah Gavron, Rocks
Will win: Chloe Zhao
Should win: Shannon Murphy
Shoulda got a look-in: Channing Godfrey Peoples, Miss Juneteenth
This is a great Best Director line-up, with almost every nominee a worthy winner. While Zhao will unproblematically take home the trophy, it would be wonderful to see Murphy awarded. Her Babyteeth is the kind of debut that commands attention, taking typically mismatched tones – it’s a film that bounces between teen psychodrama, heartbreaking weepie and dark comedy within minutes of screentime – and making them not only cohesive but oddly beautiful. Similarly stirring is Channing Godfrey Peoples’ Miss Juneteenth, a gorgeous ode to Black beauty, intergenerational sacrifice and working class ennui. It features a standout performance from the perpetually underused Nicole Beharie, and has been criminally overlooked this awards season.
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Adarsh Gourav, The White Tiger
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Mads Mikkelsen, Another Round
Tahar Rahim, The Mauritanian
Will win: Chadwick Boseman
Should win: Riz Ahmed
Shoulda got a look-in: Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods
Boseman is undeniably magnetic and unintentionally heartbreaking in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – which marked his final acting role before his tragic death last year – but the film he’s in is so stagey and limp that it’s hard to root for. Ahmed, however, is majestic in Sound of Metal, a movie that finally fulfils the potential of an actor often wasted in supporting roles. On that same wavelength is Delroy Lindo as a tinderbox of a war veteran in Da 5 Bloods. The film is a blistering showcase for him, with director Spike Lee demanding audiences wake up to an actor who hasn’t had the respect he deserves.
Bukky Bakray, Rocks
Radha Blank, The Forty-Year-Old Version
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Wunmi Mosaku, His House
Alfre Woodard, Clemency
Will win: Frances McDormand
Should win: Alfre Woodard
Shoulda got a look-in: Julia Garner, The Assistant
In a fairer world, Alfre Woodard’s anguished, career-best performance as a conflicted prison warden would have been a far bigger awards-show magnet – in 2021, but also two years ago when Clemency was first released in the US. Still, no one will take issue with McDormand sweeping this either. Elsewhere, there are a number of great women overlooked in this category, including Elisabeth Moss in Shirley and Minari’s Han Ye-ri, who has frustratingly received few of the plaudits granted to her co-stars. But it would have been particularly welcome to spotlight The Assistant’s Julia Garner. The film, inspired by Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predation but also every tale of abuse of power, is full of silent menace and uneasy answers, with a wide-eyed Garner as its beating heart.
Best Supporting Actor
Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Barry Keoghan, Calm with Horses
Alan Kim, Minari
Leslie Odom Jr, One Night in Miami
Clarke Peters, Da 5 Bloods
Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
Will win: Daniel Kaluuya
Should win: Daniel Kaluuya
Shoulda got a look-in: Bo Burnham, Promising Young Woman
Kaluuya is this year’s only real sure-thing when it comes to awards, having taken home a number of important precursors ahead of the Oscars. His streak will probably continue here, and deservedly so. Playing Black revolutionary Fred Hampton, Kaluuya evokes the fierce, unflinching pull of a leader, and gives one of the most compelling and ultimately devastating performances of the year. Less talked about, and deserving of a spot here, is Promising Young Woman’s Bo Burnham. The Eighth Grade director, occasional actor and one-time YouTube star teasingly plays with his off-camera persona here, and nails the slippery tone of the film as a whole. In a movie that has its flaws, its universally great ensemble cast is not one of them.
Best Supporting Actress
Niamh Algar, Calm with Horses
Kosar Ali, Rocks
Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Dominique Fishback, Judas and the Black Messiah
Ashley Madekwe, County Lines
Youn Yuh-jung, Minari
Will win: Maria Bakalova
Should win: Kosar Ali
Shoulda got a look-in: Gina Rodriguez, Kajillionaire
Bakalova had one of the year’s big star-is-born moments playing Borat’s endlessly downtrodden daughter, so a win wouldn’t be a problem. Kosar Ali, though, is a total spark plug in Rocks – funny and charming, yet quick to spring on you moments of deep pathos. Similar sentiments could be applied to Kajillionaire’s Gina Rodriguez. Miranda July’s odd, deceptively powerful comedy-drama has been bizarrely shortchanged this awards season, but in particular Rodriguez’s vivacious supporting role as a budding con artist. Rodriguez’s annoying social media presence be damned – she’s a star.
EE Rising Star
Bukky Bakray, Rocks
Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami
Morfydd Clark, Saint Maud
Sope Dirisu, His House
Conrad Khan, County Lines
Will win: Kingsley Ben-Adir
Should win: Bukky Bakray
Shoulda got a look-in: Toby Wallace, Babyteeth
This category is voted for by the public, so it stands to reason that Ben-Adir, the only non-newcomer of the nominees and the only one not featured in a low-budget arthouse movie, will take it. It’ll be a deserved win, but Bakray is also brilliant in Rocks. In her acting debut, she captures the heart and soul of a teenage girl forced into circumstances she shouldn’t be in. Overlooked here is Babyteeth’s Toby Wallace, whose performance as a reckless ne’er-do-well love interest to a teenage girl is both alluring and unpredictable.