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BAFTA vs. Oscar: What will win best pic on Sunday?

February 8, 2008 |  2:28 pm

While "Atonement" leads the pack at this year's BAFTAs with 14 nominations, and remains the bookies' favorite to take home best picture (see all odds here), it is by no means a lock. Clear Oscar front-runner "No Country for Old Men," tied with "There Will Be Blood" with 9 BAFTA nods, could well prevail. Indeed, after the British film academy moved their kudos up to precede the Oscars beginning in 2000, there has been considerable overlap between the two awardsfests, though the occasional delayed release of a film in the UK skews the results.


BAFTA has predicted two of Oscar's best picture winners — "Gladiator" (2000) and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003). While a British film has competed in the BAFTA best picture race in all but one of those years (2001 when best British film "Gosford Park" did not make the top five), last year's BAFTA champ, "The Queen," was the first such film to take the top prize since "The Full Monty" prevailed over "Titanic" in 1997.

To BAFTA's credit, there has been surprisingly little homegrown bias with the inclusion of a separate award allowing the 6,500 BAFTA voters to reward the best of British cinema. However, if a British film loses the BAFTA best picture race, as "Atonement" well might, it also usually loses this best of Britain award. In 2005, "The Constant Gardener" (despite 10 BAFTA nods) lost the top prize to "Brokeback Mountain" ("Crash" was also a contender) and the Brit award to "Wallace & Gromit." In 2004, "Vera Drake" (11 BAFTA nods) lost out to "The Aviator" ("Million Dollar Baby" was not in the running) and "My Summer of Love."

For 2003, "Cold Mountain" (13 BAFTA nods) lost to "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" and "Touching the Void." In 2002, "The Hours" (11 BAFTA nods) lost to "The Pianist" and "The Warrior." In 2000, "Billy Elliot" (13 BAFTA nods) was the exception, losing the best pic prize to "Gladiator" but winning the best British film award.

On the acting side, Oscar front-runners Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood"), Julie Christie ("Away From Her"), and Javier Bardem ("No Country") are the favorites here as well. With neither Amy Ryan ("Gone Baby Gone") nor Ruby Dee ("American Gangster") in the supporting actress race, the favorite has to be two-time BAFTA winner Cate Blanchett ("I'm Not There.").

And according to BAFTA, that is exactly what Blanchett will be — not there. The list of nominees not attending is almost as long as those who will walk the red carpet at the Royal Opera House Sunday night. And though Day-Lewis and Bardem are expected, Christie is not confirmed. However, it would be a surprise if she were not there. While this is her seventh BAFTA nod, her only win was in 1965 for her Oscar-winning work in "Darling." To see just who shows tune in to BBC America at 8 p.m. (ET) on Sunday night.

And whoever wins will be a fairly good indicator of what to expect Oscar night. Last year, all four BAFTA winners went on to take home Academy Awards. In 2005, Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Capote") and Reese Witherspoon ("Walk the Line") won both prizes while Jake Gyllenhaal ("Brokeback Mountain") beat double BAFTA nominee Georgy Clooney ("Syriana," "Good Night, and Good Luck"). Thandie Newton ("Crash") took supporting actress with eventual Oscar winner Rachel Weisz ("The Constant Gardener") competing in lead at BAFTA.

With "Million Dollar Baby" not eligible in 2004, only Jamie Foxx ("Ray") and Blanchett ("The Aviator") matched up. In 2003, only Renee Zellweger ("Cold Mountain") repeated, with Charlize Theron ("Monster") not in the running and "Mystic River" stars Sean Penn and Tim Robbins losing to Bill Murray ("Lost in Translation") and Bill Nighy ("Love Actually"). 2002 went two for four with Nicole Kidman ("The Hours") and Catherine Zeta Jones ("Chicago") winning both, while Day-Lewis ("Gangs of New York") beat Oscar winner Adrien Brody ("The Pianist") and Christopher Walken ("Catch Me If You Can") besting Oscar winner Chris Cooper ("Adaptation").

2001 was the year that Russell Crowe won the BAFTA for "A Beautiful Mind" but lost the Oscar because of his antics. His co-star Jennifer Connelly won both prizes while supporting Oscar winner Jim Broadbent ("Iris") was nommed for lead at BAFTA and won supporting for "Moulin Rouge." Neither Denzel Washington ("Training Day") nor Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball") was in the running.

Finally, in 2000, Julia Roberts ("Erin Brockovich") and Benicio del Toro ("Traffic") won both prizes while "Billy Elliot" star Jamie Bell bested Crowe ("Gladiator") and Marcia Gay Harden ("Pollock") was not in the running.

(Focus Features)