What Are the BAFTA Awards? Hollywood-on-the-Thames + David A. Grafton Academy Honor

by S. Montgomery
Control Sam Riley: What are the BAFTA Awards?Control with Sam Riley as Joy Division vocalist Ian Curtis. What are the BAFTA Awards? Don't be fooled by the inclusion of Anton Corbijn's low-budget Ian Curtis biopic Control in a number of BAFTA longlists, including Best Film, Best Actor (Sam Riley), Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Samantha Morton, as Deborah Curtis), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Matt Greenhalgh, from Deborah Curtis' book). The incontestable answer to “What are the BAFTA Awards?” is “Hollywood-on-the-Thames.” Also in the Control cast: Alexandra Maria Lara, Joe Anderson, James Anthony Pearson, Harry Treadaway, Craig Parkinson, Toby Kebbell, and Matthew McNulty.

What are the BAFTA Awards? Longlists show British Academy's Hollywood infatuation

What are the BAFTA Awards?

They are the statuettes handed out by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

British?

Yes.

But then … why so many American movies?

High art, maybe.

Or perhaps good media marketing.

British 'Control' exception to American control

Once again, what are the BAFTA Awards?

They're Hollywood-on-the-Thames – and have been for quite some time.

This year, for instance, found on the various BAFTA longlists are Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, Joel and Ethan Coen's No Country for Old Men, Tony Gilroy's Michael Clayton, Jason Reitman's Juno, Ridley Scott's American Gangster, Paul Greengrass' The Bourne Ultimatum, Sean Penn's Into the Wild, and numerous other U.S. releases.

Joe Wright's period psychological/romantic drama Atonement, Shekhar Kapur's Queen Elizabeth I-centered period drama Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and Anton Corbijn's Joy Division/Ian Curtis biopic Control are the only three – at least partly – British films still in contention in the 2008 BAFTA Awards' major categories.

As usual, no matter how well-received upon their release, smaller independent British films – e.g., Shane Meadows' This Is England, Sarah Gravon's Brick Lane – fared rather poorly at the BAFTAs, with Control as this year's exception to that particular rule.

As for non-English-language fare, Olivier Dahan's Edith Piaf biopic La Vie en Rose / La Môme, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's Stasi spy drama The Lives of Others / Das Leben der Anderen, Ang Lee's romantic/political thriller Lust Caution / Sè, Jiè, Julian Schnabel's psychological drama The Diving Bell and the Butterfly / Le Scaphandre et le Papillon, and, to some extent, Marc Forster's Afghanistan-set The Kite Runner are the only five titles found on more than a couple of BAFTA longlists.

BAFTA outcasts

Among the eligible movies bypassed for the 2008 BAFTA Awards are Tamara Jenkins' potential Oscar contender The Savages, David Mackenzie's BAFTA Scotland nominee Hallam Foe, Jim Strouse's Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner Grace Is Gone, Denzel Washington's Golden Globe nominee The Great Debaters, and Ryan Fleck's Gotham Award winner Half Nelson.

A 2006 release in the United States, Half Nelson, which earned Ryan Gosling a Best Actor Oscar nomination a year ago, apparently suffered the fate of other movies that arrived in the U.K. after the Oscar ballyhoo was over – and were thus perceived as yesteryear's goods.

Clint Eastwood's widely acclaimed, mostly Japanese-language World War II drama Letters from Iwo Jima, which appears twice (Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Visual Effects) on the BAFTA longlists, was surely a victim of the same Old Movie News Disease.

One curious 2006 exception: The German-language The Lives of Others, which can be found on several longlists including Best Film.

Julie Christie & Cate Blanchett

Though likely Oscar 2008 nominees in some category or other, also faring less than stellarly on the BAFTA longlists are Sarah Polley's Alzheimer's drama Away from Her and Todd Haynes' Bob Dylan-inspired I'm Not There, which managed only one mention apiece: for Best Actress hopeful Julie Christie and Best Supporting Actress hopeful Cate Blanchett, respectively.

Both Christie and Blanchett are shoo-in Academy Award contenders. Both have also already taken home an Oscar statuette: Julie Christie was 1965's Best Actress for John Schlesinger's Swinging London-set Darling; Cate Blanchett was 2004's Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator.

The Bourne Ultimatum Matt Damon: What are the BAFTA Awards? Hollywood adorationThe Bourne Ultimatum with Matt Damon. “What are the BAFTA Awards?” The BAFTA Awards are the symbol(s) of the British Academy's adoration for Hollywood filmmaking. Case in point, Paul Greengrass' thriller The Bourne Ultimatum, which can be found on key BAFTA longlists, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Matt Damon), Best Supporting Actress (Joan Allen), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Scott Z. Burn, George Nolfi, Tony Gilroy). An Oscar winner in the Best Original Screenplay category (with Ben Affleck for Good Will Hunting, 1997) and a Best Actor nominee (also for Good Will Hunting), Matt Damon has yet to be shortlisted for a BAFTA Award.

What are the BAFTA Awards?

Okay, again: What are the BAFTA Awards?

The longlists below offer incontestable evidence that they're the British Academy Awards; in other words, British-set but with an unabashedly Hollywood bent.

The 2008 BAFTA nominations will be announced on Jan. 16. The BAFTA winners will be announced on Feb. 10.

BAFTA longlists (partial list)

What are the BAFTA Awards?

This short list of BAFTA longlists is evidence that the British Academy Awards are very much Hollywood-oriented.

Last one: What are the BAFTA Awards?

The organization that lists American Gangster in the Best Original Screenplay category – even though screenwriter Steven Zaillian's script is based on Mark Jacobson's New York Magazine article “The Return of Superfly.”

BEST FILM
American Gangster.
Atonement.
The Bourne Ultimatum.
Charlie Wilson's War.
Control.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Eastern Promises.
Into the Wild.
Juno.
The Kite Runner.
The Lives of Others.
Lust Caution.
Michael Clayton.
No Country for Old Men.
There Will Be Blood.

BEST DIRECTOR
3:10 to Yuma.
American Gangster.
Atonement.
The Bourne Ultimatum.
Control.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Eastern Promises.
Into the Wild.
Juno.
The Kite Runner.
The Lives of Others.
Lust Caution.
Michael Clayton.
No Country for Old Men.
There Will Be Blood.

BEST ACTRESS
Angelina Jolie - A Mighty Heart.
Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Charlize Theron - In the Valley of Elah.
Ellen Page - Juno.
Halle Berry - Things We Lost in the Fire.
Helena Bonham Carter - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Julie Christie - Away from Her.
Katherine Heigl - Knocked Up.
Keira Knightley - Atonement.
Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose.
Markéta Irglová - Once.
Martina Gedeck - The Lives of Others.
Naomi Watts - Eastern Promises.
Nikki Blonsky - Hairspray.
Tang Wei - Lust Caution.

BEST ACTOR
Christian Bale - 3:10 to Yuma.
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood.
Denzel Washington - American Gangster.
Emile Hirsch - Into the Wild.
George Clooney - Michael Clayton.
James McAvoy - Atonement.
Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Josh Brolin - No Country for Old Men.
Matt Damon - The Bourne Ultimatum.
Russell Crowe - 3:10 to Yuma.
Sam Riley - Control.
Tom Hanks - Charlie Wilson's War.
Tommy Lee Jones - In the Valley of Elah.
Ulrich Mühe - The Lives of Others.
Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada - The Kite Runner.
Armin Mueller-Stahl - Eastern Promises.
Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
Chiwetel Ejiofor - American Gangster.
Clive Owen - Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Geoffrey Rush - Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild.
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men.
John Travolta - Hairspray.
Paul Dano - There Will Be Blood.
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War.
Russell Crowe - American Gangster.
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton.
Tommy Lee Jones - No Country for Old Men.
Vincent Cassel - Eastern Promises.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Allison Janney - Juno.
Brenda Blethyn - Atonement.
Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There.
Catherine Keener - Into the Wild.
Joan Allen - The Bourne Ultimatum.
Julia Roberts - Charlie Wilson's War.
Kelly MacDonald - No Country for Old Men.
Michelle Pfeiffer - Stardust.
Michelle Pfeiffer - Hairspray.
Romola Garai - Atonement.
Samantha Morton - Control.
Samantha Morton - Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Saoirse Ronan - Atonement.
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton.
Vanessa Redgrave - Atonement.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
American Gangster.
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.
Eastern Promises.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Hot Fuzz.
In the Valley of Elah.
Juno.
Knocked Up.
The Lives of Others.
Michael Clayton.
Once.
Ratatouille.
Things We Lost in the Fire.
This is England.
La Vie en Rose.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
3:10 to Yuma.
Atonement.
The Bourne Ultimatum.
Brick Lane.
Charlie Wilson's War.
Control.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Into the Wild.
The Kite Runner.
Letters from Iwo Jima.
Lust Caution.
No Country for Old Men.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
There Will Be Blood.

David A. Grafton: Gordon E. Sawyer Award for technological contributionsDavid A. Grafton: The 21st recipient of the Academy's Gordon E. Sawyer Award for notable “technological contributions.” David A. Grafton photo: © A.M.P.A.S.

David A. Grafton: Academy's Gordon E. Sawyer Award recipient

David A. Grafton will be the next recipient of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Gordon E. Sawyer Award, “presented to an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry.”

According to the Academy's press release, the English-born Grafton is “a pioneering designer of lenses for optical effects printers, which at the time of their development were adopted by nearly every visual effects facility in the motion picture industry.”

For more than three decades, Grafton designed electro-optical systems for IBM, NCR, EG&G, and Xerox. In the 1970s, he also worked with special effects companies such as Industrial Light & Magic and Boss Film Studios, thus contributing to the production of George Lucas' Star Wars, Irvin Kershner's The Empire Strikes Back, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, and numerous other motion pictures.

David A. Grafton has already received two of the Academy's Scientific and Engineering Awards: in 1980, for the optical design of a telecentric anamorphic lens for motion picture optical effects printers, and in 1986, as part of the team responsible for the design and development of the Zoom Aerial 65mm Optical Printer.

Gordon E. Sawyer Award

David A. Grafton will become the 21st recipient of the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, which was first handed out in 1982.

Previous honorees include cinematographer Joseph Walker (You Can't Take It with You, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, The Jolson Story), and visual effects artists Ray Harryhausen (The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Mysterious Island, Jason and the Argonauts) and Linwood G. Dunn (Flying Down to Rio, Citizen Kane, the 1949 Mighty Joe Young).

The 2008 Gordon E. Sawyer Award – despite the different name, it's an Oscar statuette – will be presented at the Scientific and Technical Awards Dinner on Feb. 9, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. Snippets from the ceremony, with Fantastic Four actress Jessica Alba at the helm, will be featured in the Oscar show.

Best Make-Up Oscar semifinalists: From Jack Sparrow to Edith Piaf

In other Oscar 2008 news, the Academy has announced that seven films remain in contention in the 2008 Academy Awards' Best Make-Up category.

Titles range from big-budget Hollywood fare like Zack Snyder's 300 and Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End to French-language fare like Olivier Dahan's La Vie en Rose, starring Marion Cotillard as chanteuse Edith Piaf, and Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, in which Mathieu Amalric becomes a tetraplegic. See below.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
La Vie en Rose.
Norbit.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
300.

On Jan. 19, members of the Academy's Make-Up Branch will view 10-minute excerpts from each of the seven films. Following the screenings, they will select three films for final Oscar consideration.

The 80th Academy Award nominations will be announced on Jan. 22 at 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

The Academy Awards ceremony will be held on Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Kodak Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles.

What are the BAFTA Awards? Find out more about them at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' website.

Sam Riley Control image: Momentum Pictures.

Matt Damon The Bourne Ultimatum image: Universal Pictures.

“What Are the BAFTA Awards? Hollywood-on-the-Thames + David A. Grafton Academy Honor” last updated in September 2018.

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