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Will BAFTAs preview Oscars again?

February 19, 2010 |  8:43 am

Slumdog Millionaire BaftasSince the BAFTAs were moved up in 2000 to take place while academy members were still voting for the Oscars, these laurels have foreseen only three best-picture winners -- "Gladiator" (2000), "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003) and last year's "Slumdog Millionaire." The BAFTAs do far better at predicting the acting Oscar winners. In 2006 and 2007, all four BAFTA champs went on to win at the Oscars. Last year, three of the four BAFTA winners repeated at the Academy Awards -- Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler") was the exception. Of the 36 acting Oscars handed out so far this decade, 22 went to BAFTA winners.

Two of the front-runners at this year's Oscars -- "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker," as well as homegrown favorite "An Education" -- lead the pack at this Sunday's BAFTAs, with eight nominations each, including best picture bids. Another two of the top Oscar contenders -- "Up in the Air" and "Precious" -- fared less well, though they count best picture bids among their six and four BAFTA bids, respectively.

Another favorite at the Oscars -- "Inglorious Basterds" -- also contends in six BAFTA categories, including directing and screenplay nods for Quentin Tarantino, but was bumped from the best picture race, which has only five contenders. Among the other best-picture Oscar hopefuls, "District 9" has seven nominations, including directing and screenplay bids, "Up" contends in four categories, including animated film and original screenplay; that latter category was where "A Serious Man" earned its only BAFTA nomination. As "The Blind Side" has yet to open in the UK, it was not eligible for consideration.

That means Oscars front-runner Sandra Bullock is not contending for best actress at the BAFTAs. Her chief rival for the Oscar -- Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia") -- is in the running at the BAFTAs. However, Streep  numbers only one win -- best actress in 1982 for "The French Lieutenant's Woman" -- among her previous 12 BAFTA nominations. Of the others in the BAFTA race, Saorise Ronan ("The Lovely Bones") and Audrey Tautou ("Coco Avant Chanel") are both past onetime nominees while Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and Gabby Sidibe ("Precious") are newcomers. The BAFTA best actress has won the Oscar six of nine times this decade.

Among the BAFTA best actor nominees, George Clooney ("Up in the Air") leads with three previous acting bids while Colin Firth ("A Single Man") has one previous film nomination. Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart"), Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker") and Andy Serkis ("Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll") are all first-time BAFTA film nominees. The final Oscar contender -- Morgan Freeman -- was denied a BAFTA bid for "Invictus," which was shut of these awards entirely. The BAFTA best actor has repeated at the Oscars five of nine times this decade.

Alfred Molina ("An Education") is the only previous BAFTA contender in the supporting actor race while Kristin Scott Thomas -- with three previous BAFTA bids -- is the only vet in the supporting-actress race. Neither of them is contending at the Oscars. The overlap between nominees for both supporting races is just five for 10. The BAFTA supporting actor category includes two Oscar nominees -- front-runner Christoph Waltz ("Inglorious Basterds") and Stanley Tucci ("The Lovely Bones") while the BAFTA supporting-actress race has three Oscar contenders --  likely winner Mo'Nique ("Precious") as well as "Up in the Air" co-stars Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick. The BAFTA supporting-actor champ has prevailed at the Oscars four of nine years while the supporting-actress winner has taken home the Oscar an impressive seven of nine times.

Just four of the nine BAFTA directing champs of this decade went on to prevail at the Oscars. This year's BAFTA race has three of the five Oscar nominees -- James Cameron ("Avatar"), Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") and Quentin Tarantino ("Inglorious Basterds"). 

See the full list of nominees at the BAFTA website.

Left photo: BAFTA logo. Credit: British Academy of Film and Television Arts

Right photo: Publicity still from "Slumdog Millionaire." Credit: Fox Searchlight

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