Why The BAFTA's Are Insignificant

It€™s the biggest night of the British film calendar; a night where we Brits get to show the Yanks how an Award show is done and honour film and filmmakers from around the world, exhibiting absolutely no sense of bias towards our own crop. Tell it to the birds, Bafta! Before 2002 The Baftas took place months after the Oscars; by which time all of the A-List Americans had long since hung up their award season garb and get-up, gained ten pounds and would rather openly admit to being a vain, vacuous, human being who was compelled only by the all-mighty dollar rather than attend another night of smiling, clapping and honouring piers; let alone one that would call for them to cross the pond €“ God forbid! The result was an audience heavily dominated by the best of British, a scattering of members from the foreign film elite and your down-on-their-luck former American screen icon, trying desperately to stay in the public eye, and perhaps the unlucky Oscar runner-up desperate to fill that trophy cabinet they bought after their hangers-on told them they were a shoe-in. Consequently Bafta honoured the attendees €“ snubbing those who snubbed the ceremony. Rule Britannia cinema! Bravo for foreign film! It was also their chance to get one over on an €˜uber patriotic€™ Oscar ceremony that always overlooked British gems in favour of American movies. Sadly no one at home or abroad seemed to pay much attention to Bafta. So in 2002, it was decided Bafta needed a face-lift. In order to attract the big names over to old Blighty, Bafta was moved to precede the Oscars and tie in with Awards Season. And as had been hoped, the big names flooded over €“ Russell Crowe, Johnny Depp, George, Brad, Angie and all have tread the red of Leicester Square and more recently the Royal Opera House in the hope of adding extra fuel to their assault on the Holy Grail of Oscar. The viewers came flooding in as a new look Bafta was graced by many smiley-faced, bright eyed, award hopefuls who claimed the award and awards ceremony €˜matched the Oscars€™. However, as the old platitude goes, beauty is only skin deep; this cosmetic surgery did little more for the ceremony than a nose job would do for an actress whose best chance at an award is in the shape of a Razzie. The Oscars represent the pinnacle of the world film calendar. Next month Anne Hathaway and James Franco will look stunning and no doubt continue a tradition where the hosts go above and beyond to present a show filled with humour and flare, charisma and charm. There will be spectacular video cutaways, huge set pieces that have taken hours to rehearse and this is all just from the hosts. Then there€™s the musical numbers from the nominees for best song €“ the biggest stars of rock and pop and music attend and perform €“ a grand anthem plays to introduce presenters - who come equipped with material that tops the whiteness of their smiles and cost of their attire - and winners, who are always have their awards presented to them by the winners from the previous year. It€™s an outrageous, amazing spectacle and everyone attends. The Baftas are almost the antithesis and this year was the best example of this yet. Jonathan Ross (yes, he€™s back on the BBC) churned out his tired, uncharismatic act that gets a chuckle at best, but mostly leaves members of the audience sitting uncomfortably and rolling their eyes. Set pieces? Ha! Ross and Bafta produce the bare minimum €“ a bland presenter, long past his best who has forgotten the basic fundamentals of grooming. To bring a bit of British sophistication to the awards they chose to host it at the grand old Royal Opera House. But then, as if in a mad scare, decided that perhaps they€™re being too stuffy and €˜British€™ so felt the need to glitz things up and €˜modernise€™ it by playing tacky pop trash from the likes of Kate Nash and Plan B as presenters and winners take to the stage. As for presenters? Well, €˜whoever is around will do€™ seems to be the order of play. Jessica Alba presents the Best Supporting Actor award to Geoffrey Rush? Why? However, she didn€™t even get to present it to Mr. Rush, because he didn€™t attend. And he wasn€™t alone. Other winners not in attendance were best director winner, David Fincher, Best Actress winner, Natalie Portman and Britain€™s home-grown, winner of the prestigious people€™s choice award, Tom Hardy was also a no show. It seems that anyone with absolutely any kind of professional obligation around award season will happily choose Bafta as the one to miss. And can you blame them? Given the cheapness of the ceremony you shudder to think what the after parties must be like if. €˜We€™ve got drinks. There€™s a tap over there hooked directly to the Thames. Go easy on it, for God€™s sake! We€™ve got a water meter here. We€™re charged by the gallon!€™ And if you€™re American, last night provided further reason for you to stay away if you€™re hopeful of leaving with the gold. We continue to complain that we Brits do not get given the honours we deserve from the Academy. €˜Patriotism gone mad€™ has been banded around in the past by certain members of the British film aristocracy towards Oscar. Well, Kettle, Pot just called you €˜black€™. Have you got anything you would like to say back to her? If next month Colin Firth gets snubbed in favour or Jesse Eisenberg for best actor, the people of Bafta will be up in arms about it. And yet twelve months ago when Firth beat off eventual Oscar winner (and worthy of every other award in the season) Jeff Bridges, it was fair. Remember when Jamie Bell beat out eventual Oscar Winner Russell Crowe? Yeah that was great television; but was it fair? Did the best man win? Or did the Brit win because we knew he has no chance at the Oscar? A Bafta is a golden statuette in the form of a mask; how apt this symbol is for an awards ceremony that purports to be something that is prestigious and glamorous, unbiased and in the same league as the Oscars. Well, to quote Samuel L. Jackson - who presented the Bafta for Best film this year - coolest person available €“ yes. most appropriate? €“ €œain't the same league, ain't even the same fuckin' sport.€
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Frustratingly argumentative writer, eater, reader and fanatical about film ‘n’ food and all things fundamentally flawed. I have been a member of the WhatCulture family since it was known as Obsessed with Film way back in the bygone year of 2010. I review films, festivals, launch events, award ceremonies and conduct interviews with members of the ‘biz’. Follow me @FilmnFoodFan In 2011 I launched the restaurant and food criticism section. I now review restaurants alongside film and the greatest rarity – the food ‘n’ film crossover. Let your imaginations run wild as you mull on what that might look like!