Though I could gripe immediately with a bunch of the nominations given, I’m going to give the first part only of this over to the minor grips I have with the BAFTA nominations, announced this morning (and here in full via Empire Magazine).
The leading nominees, each with eight, are Avatar, The Hurt Locker and An Education. The overrating of An Education, at the expense of better British films like In the Loop and Fish Tank, is a little irritating, but the acting is so strong in the film that it seems to have elevated everything around it, including the nominated script by Nick Hornby and the nominated directing by Lone Scherfig. Avatar’s eight is mostly taken up with technical nods, which is entirely fair, but its picture nod, over Inglourious Basterds and Up, is predictable but wrong. Obviously, for those who read or listen to anything I say or write, know that I wholly agree with all The Hurt Locker nods, with my only desire to see much more attention given to Anthony Mackie in the supporting categories.
As with the Golden Globes, I can’t possibly pass this opportunity up to criticise the nomination of The Hangover for script, specifically given it is just a slightly adjusted take on Dude, Where’s My Car?. On personal taste, I probably wouldn’t have sought to reward the script for An Education, but kudos for adding District 9 which, despite a host of action movie tropes peppered throughout, is a much smarter film that the credit given would suggest.
The acting sections are all pretty good. That said, I wouldn’t have given Alec Baldwin a nod for It’s Complicated due to Anthony Mackie’s great performance in The Hurt Locker, but Baldwin is good so not too much annoyance there. Also very good indeed to see Christian McKay nominated for his amazing performance in Me and Orson Welles. Also great nod for Anne-Marie Duff for supporting actress in Nowhere Boy. This seems like the only place where Mo’Nique just might not win for Precious, so Duff and the others could nick it.
It’s a decent enough selection from BAFTA. They are slightly over-praising, as most have, An Education and, as most haven’t, Coco Before Chanel. The nomination of Audrey Tautou over the incredible debut by Katie Jarvis is jarring, but sometimes you have to give concession to BAFTA’s predeliction for costume drama, no matter the costume. But nothing but praise should be given to the nods for The Hurt Locker and District 9, though you might wish that some of the better British films, notably Moon and In the Loop, were given a little more attention outside of nods in those Brit-focused categories.
Peter Morgan, something of a specialist at penning stories about real-life prominent British figures, often about their relationships to prominent, real-life American figures, is to make his third Tony Blair-related piece with The Special Relationship. The film, a co-production between HBO and BBC Films, will focus on the bond held between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton from the commencement of Blair’s premiership in 1997 until Clinton’s final days as President in 2000.
Michael Sheen, who played Blair in the Morgan-penned The Deal and The Queen, will reprise his role as the former Prime Minister. Dennis Quaid has reportedly won the role of Clinton, apparently beating out competition from the likes of Russell Crowe, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alec Baldwin and Tim Robbins. Hillary will be played by Julianne Moore. Helen McCrory, who played Cherie Blair in The Deal and The Queen, will return. The sticky (ahem) issue of Monica Lewinsky will be sidestepped through showing the intern in only archive footage, apparently included video of her closed-door testimony to Congress on the scandal.
It will mark the first time Clinton has been portrayed on film in power, having been the heavy inspiration for the subject in Primary Colors, the 1998 Mike Nichols film in which John Travolta played a thinly-veiled version of the president during the campaign season.
Interestingly, should the funding be raised, it would be Morgan’s directorial debut, having had Stephen Frears in the chair for The Deal and The Queen. That could prove a challenge for Morgan, whose scripts are often the strongest element but who does need a steadying hand to deal with the actors to prevent any sense of impression falling into the performances.
By a similar token, this will prove a real challenge for the actors, especially Quaid who will be taking on one of the most charismatic political figures in recent years and must avoid falling anywhere close to caricature.