The BAFTA nominations were announced today, and people are up in arms at some high-profile snubs. For one thing, Barbie only got 5 nominations, including noms for Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in the acting categories, and Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach for original screenplay. But the miss on a Best Film nomination is not going unnoticed, as is Greta Gerwig missing out on a Best Director nomination. Oppenheimer leads the pack with 13 nominations, with Killers of the Flower Moon garnering 9, though Lily Gladstone was not among the nominations for Best Actress. Lily is currently trending on social media as people are outraged on her behalf.
It's not that I don’t feel that—she’s tremendous! She makes the film work!—but I have said all along that competing for Best Actress, as opposed to Best Supporting Actress, would make her road harder. She is banking on people recognizing the substance of her performance as central to Flower Moon, rather than counting her screentime, but…some people are just not going to do that. The BAFTAs, especially, are disinclined to do that.
Here's the thing. The BAFTAs have, in recent years, been trying to be less of a “Hollywood” machine, and to put the emphasis back on British film. Their Best Film category, for instance, is only five nominees (the Oscars have ten nominees, and Barbie will undoubtedly be one of them). In contrast, their category Outstanding British Film has ten nominees, which includes one instance of Best Film overlap with Poor Things. But the other 9 nominations include some films that will undoubtedly be overlooked by the Academy next week, including Napoleon, Saltburn, and the winsome rom-com Rye Lane (fantastic, and now streaming on Hulu).
Now, the success of the BAFTAs being less “Hollywood” this year is questionable, as they delivered multiple nominations to films like Maestro and The Holdovers with 7 each, but they also handed 7 nominations to Anatomy of a Fall, and The Zone of Interest—directed by British filmmaker Jonathan Glazer but performed in German—garnered 9 nominations, the same as Killers of the Flower Moon. So, it’s a slightly more international list for BAFTA, while also still repping American/Hollywood films pretty heavily. It is amusing to me they’re counting Oppenheimer as a “British” film, yes, there is British talent involved, including Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas, but it was produced in the American studio system. Not sure what we’re doing here, really.
All of this is to say, people are upset that Barbie didn’t get more recognition, and that Lily Gladstone didn’t get any, but…it’s not shocking coming from this group. It stands out this year because their pro-Brit agenda is sort of weirdly served by films that are still very Hollywood, like Oppenheimer, Saltburn, and Poor Things (which is a co-production with Film4, a British company), films that have British roots but aren’t exactly “British” in production, not in the way other nominees like Rye Lane, How to Have Sex, and All of Us Strangers are.
My fear, though, is that this permanently shifts momentum away from Lily Gladstone. Oscar nominations are closed, so what’s done is done, and the final voting doesn’t begin until February 22nd, a whole ass month away. I hope that is time enough for Lily to shake some hands, impress some people—she really is so impressive in person! So warm and dryly funny!—and get some of that momentum back. It’s going to be a tight race with Emma Stone, and every bit of positivity and recognition counts.
I just sort of want to tell Emma Stone to sit down, that she already has an Oscar and will have so many more opportunities in future to win again, she’s only 35 and already a four-time nominee. Lily Gladstone has a harder road to walk, and it’s not a guarantee she’ll get this shot again any time soon. I HOPE she will, I hope just enough has changed in the industry to better support her in her career, but we have seen the challenges non-white Oscar winners and nominees face, even after receiving great acclaim.
It’s not about advantaging a “worse” performance, both Gladstone and Stone gave amazing performances (in a vacuum, I’d give Stone an award for comedic performance and Gladstone one for dramatic). It’s just about acknowledging that inequities remain, and Emma Stone is doing the MOST as someone who already won an Oscar less than 10 years ago, all while having every advantage in that inequitable system. I can’t shake the feeling that, should she win, somewhere down the road she’ll apologize for it, just like that movie she no longer talks about in which she played an Asian woman.
Check out the full list of BAFTA nominees here.