1. Is Colin Farrell a goner at the Oscars?
No. But his loss at Bafta to Austin Butler is not good news. Going into these awards, Oscarologists could barely fit a cigarette paper between the top three contenders for best actor. Farrell and Butler, electric as the star of Elvis, had won at the Golden Globes. Brendan Fraser, touching in The Whale, had taken the Critics Choice prize. Farrell and Fraser are much-liked veterans with different sorts of comeback stories. Butler is the hot new kid on the block.
The worry for Farrell is that, though we may reasonably give out about the Guardian and the BBC occasionally appropriating our actors, Bafta does play a little like a home game. After all, The Banshees of Inisherin competed (and won) in best British film. If there was one place he seemed likely to triumph it was with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. A large body of Bafta members also vote for the Oscars. Two years ago every single top-drawer winner at the British bash – film, director, four actors, two screenplays – repeated on Hollywood Boulevard. Remember how surprised we all were that Anthony Hopkins beat Chadwick Boseman that year? Well, the Welshman hadn’t missed at his home awards. We hate to do this to someone we all love. But the last time the Bafta best actor did not convert at the Oscars was Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave, a decade ago. There is, however, still hope. Banshees is the best-reviewed of the films for which the supposed top three are competing. That gives Farrell a boost. And everyone likes the guy.
2. Do the Baftas confirm any Irish nominees as favourites?
Yes. The charming Richard Baneham, who rushed to the stage to thank the world in Irish, is odds-on to secure his second Oscar in the visual-effects category for his work on Avatar: The Way of Water. Baneham is contender for the nation’s most successful film professional. Jon Landau, producer of the Avatar films, told this writer that he was right at the core of the team. We can also probably nudge Tom Berkeley and Ross White’s an Irish Goodbye to the front of the contenders in best live-action short. Martin McDonagh remains a slight favourite in best original screenplay. Looking at the statistics for 2021 quoted above, you may argue that Keoghan and Condon are favourites. Not so fast. The problem here is that they are up against front-runners that look to be playing better with American voters. A “major high-street bookmaker” still has Ke Huy Quan from Everything Everywhere All at Once at an unbackable 1/16 to beat Keoghan. That same turf accountant quotes Angela Bassett from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever at an unappetising 1/3 to win. So hang on.
3. Might Colin Farrell be the only actor not to repeat at the Oscars?
I wouldn’t bet your house against it. As we noted in the previous answer, the two supporting prizes seem likely to go elsewhere at the US awards. Cate Blanchett, nominated in best actress for Tár, has won all over the shop, but there is unquestionably a great deal of good will behind Michelle Yeoh, nominated for Everything Everywhere All at Once. The Bafta gave only best editing to the Daniels’s science-fiction comedy, but it has always been clear that Everything Everywhere plays less well on this side of the Atlantic. There is more. The controversy over Danielle Deadwyler and Viola Davis, two black actors, not receiving nominations while Andrea Riseborough profited from an improvised campaign, could well persuade waverers to give their preference to the Asian actor. But probably not. Academy voters do not tend to vote on identity lines quite so much as the cynical commentariat likes to pretend. We will know more after the Screen Actors Guild awards, next Sunday night. Colin Farrell might even win. In which case pretend this whole article never existed.
4. Hang on. What happened with Carey Mulligan?
If you were watching on the time-delayed TV coverage you would have seen what looked like merely a clumsy edit. One moment Troy Kotsur, the deaf actor who won best supporting actor last year for Coda, was opening the envelope. The next Kerry Condon was accepting her award for best supporting actress. It took a while for the word to sneak out that Kotsur’s interpreter had, after watching the actor sign the winner, announced Carey Mulligan’s name. At time of writing, it is not clear who made the error. But the interpreter seems to have quickly corrected to “Kerry Condon! Kerry Condon!” It is not unreasonable to assume the similarity in their forenames was a factor. The incident almost immediately took on the character of a non-apparent Leon Trotsky in airbrushed photos from the Stalin years. Interviewing Condon and Keoghan shortly afterwards, Alison Hammond, hosting with Richard E Grant, did not so much as mention the event.
5. So is All Quiet on the Western Front the new Coda?
In one sense, definitely not. Coda, last year’s Oscar best-picture winner, was a sweet, lightweight dramedy about the plucky daughter of deaf parents in a picturesque fishing town. All Quiet on the Western Front is a noisy, blood-drenched drama set in the first World War. But both are films from streaming services that debuted to respectable reviews at North American festivals – Toronto for Netflix’s Western Front, Sundance for Apple’s Coda – without much exciting the maniacs who predict Oscars from half a year’s remove. If, in late summer, you had asked any half-informed person which Netflix releases might compete for best picture you would have been told Noah Baumbach’s White Noise or Alejandro G Iñárritu’s Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths. Remember them? Well, quite. By this stage of the race last year, Coda, not even nominated for best film at Bafta, was only starting to seem a serious contender for the big prize. All Quiet on the Western Front has just swept the British awards. Look at it this way: what was the last winner of best picture at Bafta that wasn’t at least second favourite for the Oscar? Maybe The Queen in 2006. And that was a very, very, very British affair. It is now a contender.