‘The Shape of Water’ leads BAFTA 2018 film nominations

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – The BAFTA Film Awards nominations for 2018 are the usual mix of richly deserved and dubious possibilities with full marks for the inclusion of ‘The Shape of Water’ (pictured) and ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ but dismay at the exclusion of the film ‘Lady Bird’ and its director, Greta Gerwig, and Simon Russell Beale for ‘The Death of Stalin’.

Guillermo Del Toro’s marvellous beauty-and-the beast fantasy copped 12 nominations including best film, best director, original screenplay, best actress for Sally Hawkins and best supporting actress for Octavia Spencer. Martin McDonagh’s riveting tale of violence and redemption in a small town matched that with nominations for best film, director, original screenplay, and best actress for Golden Globes-winner Florence McDormand among its nine, which also included nods for best supporting actor for Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson.

It’s a shame not to see the delightfully insightful and witty ‘Lady Bird’, the scabrously funny ‘The Death of Stalin’ and shrewdly comic and cutting ‘Get Out’ named for best picture although no surprise that another of my favourites, the outrageous ‘mother!’ was ignored. At least BAFTA members didn’t fall for the all-around sub-par Steven Spielberg newspaper picture ‘The Post’.

Fine to have Joe Wright’s ‘Darkest Hour’ (which earned eight nods) and ‘Dunkirk’ (seven) up for outstanding British film as both have major attributes despite serious flaws. Best film nominee ‘Call Me By Your Name’ and British film nominee ‘God’s Own Country’ are attractive love stories that hardly qualify for awards. The other British film candidates are the perfectly acceptable ‘Lady Macbeth’ and ‘Paddington 2’. Wright was left off the director’s list in favour of Denis Villeneuve for his ambitious work on ‘Blade Runner 2049’. He competes with my pick Del Toro, McDonagh, Nolan and Luca Guadagnino (‘Call Me by Your Name).

Hawkins and McDormand are joined in the best actress list by the fully deserving Saoirse Ronan for ‘Lady Bird’ but the inclusions of Margot Robbie for the awkward sports comedy ‘I, Tonya’ and especially overwrought Annette Bening for the tiresome ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’ are a puzzle. Florence Pugh for ‘Lady Macbeth’, Rosamund Pike for ‘Hostiles’, Rachel Weisz for ‘My Cousin Rachel’, Jennifer Lawrence for ‘mother!’ or even Jessica Chastain for ‘Molly’s Game’ would have been better bets.

Gary Oldman is a shoo-in as best actor as he gives the finest portrayal of Winston Churchill yet seen on film with the padding, prosthetics and CGI tweaks merely tools of the trade. It’s good to see Daniel Kaluuya on the list for ‘Get Out’ along with perennial Daniel Day Lewis for his typically observant turn in ‘Phantom Thread’ but Jamie Bell is not up to scratch in ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’ and talented young Timothée Chalamet (‘Call Me By Your Name’) will have more chances. I would have preferred to see Christian Bale for his grizzled and brooding cavalryman in ‘Hostiles’ or Jeremy Renner as a complex hunter in the Native American tale ‘Wind River’.

Olivier Spencer is joined pleasingly in the best supporting actress list by Kristin Scott Thomas as a sprightly Clemmie Churchill in ‘Darkest Hour’, my pick Laurie Metcalf as a buttoned-up mother in ‘Lady Bird’ and Lesley Manville as a menacing presence in ‘Phantom Thread’. Allison Janney, however, has little to do but swear with a straight face in ‘I, Tonya’ while Hong Chau is unforgettable as an indomitable Vietnamese amputee in Alexander Payne’s ‘Downsizing’.

Like Mark Rylance before him, Simon Russell Beale had to wait a long time for a feature film role to which he could bring the acting mastery that has made him a king of the London stage for the past 20 years. His depiction of Lavrentiy Beria, the creepily unctuous and unsparingly pitiless head of the NKVD secret police in Armando Iannucci’s savage comedy ‘The Death of Stalin’ is one of the screen’s greatest portrayals of villainy. To snub him is a crime.

Hugh Grant helps ensure that ‘Paddington 2’ remains so engaging and both Sam Rockwell, as a racist doofus, and Woody Harrelson, as a bemused lawman, warrant inclusion for sterling work in ‘Three Billboards’. Christopher Plummer is a great actor but ‘All the Money in the World’ is all over the place and it would be difficult for the splendid Willem Defoe not to stand out in the easy-to-forget kiddy picture ‘The Florida Project’. Richard Jenkins as a diffident neighbour and Michael Shannon as the real monster in ‘Shape of Water’ would have been better candidates as would Bill Nighy for his finely judged performance as an ageing actor in the best Dunkirk picture last year, ‘Their Finest’.

It was a great year for film scores and all the best original music nominations are richly deserved: Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer for ‘Blade Runner 2049’, Dario Marianelli for ‘Darkest Hour’, Hans Zimmer for ‘Dunkirk’, Jonny Greenwood for ‘Phantom Thread’ and my pick Alexandre Desplat for ‘The Shape of Water’. It’s a great shame, though, that there wasn’t room for Carter Burwell’s evocative and scene-setting score for ‘Three Billboards’.

The EE British Academy Film Awards take place on Sunday Feb. 18 at the Royal Albert Hall with host Joanna Lumley. A full list of nominees follows below

Best film
Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Outstanding British film
Darkest Hour
The Death of Stalin
God’s Own Country
Lady Macbeth
Paddington 2
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best actress
Annette Bening, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Best actor
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Jamie Bell, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name

Best supporting actress
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Kristin Scott Thomas, Darkest Hour
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Best supporting actor
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Hugh Grant, Paddington 2
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best director
Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049
Luca Guadagnino, Call Me by Your Name
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best original music
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water

Best original screenplay
Get Out
I, Tonya
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best adapted screenplay
Call Me by Your Name
The Death of Stalin
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Molly’s Game
Paddington 2

Best cinematography
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best production design
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water

Best editing
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best film not in the English language
Elle
First They Killed My Father
The Handmaiden
Loveless
The Salesman

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
The Ghoul – Gareth Tunley (Writer/Director/Producer), Jack Healy Guttman & Tom Meeten (Producers)
I Am Not a Witch – Rungano Nyoni (Writer/Director), Emily Morgan (Producer)
Jawbone – Johnny Harris (Writer/Producer), Thomas Napper (Director)
Kingdom of Us – Lucy Cohen (Director)
Lady Macbeth – Alice Birch (Writer), William Oldroyd (Director), Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly (Producer)

Best documentary
City of Ghosts
I Am Not Your Negro
Icarus
An Inconvenient Sequel
Jane

Best animated film
Coco
Loving Vincent
My Life as a Courgette

Best costume design
Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
I, Tonya
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water

Best make up & hair
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
I, Tonya
Victoria & Abdul
Wonder

Best sound
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best special visual effects
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

Best British short animation
Have Heart
Mamoon
Poles Apart

Best British short film
Aamir
Cowboy Dave
A Drowning Man
Work
Wren Boys

EE Rising Star award (voted for by the public)
Daniel Kaluuya
Florence Pugh
Josh O’Connor
Tessa Thompson
Timothée Chalamet

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