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BAFTA 2009 Winners: Filmstalker analysis

BAFTA.jpgSo the BAFTA's are over, it's the night after the event and everything is almost back to normal, and although we talked about it on the day during the live blogging from the red carpet and the show, I haven't really gone through the list of winners and written up my own thoughts on them, so let me rectify that right now.

Here's what I thought of the BAFTA winners, and believe me in the show I was applauding the nominees I want to win and those I didn't, and I got a few looks for applauding some films more than most.

So let me list the awards first, the winners which you should already know by now, and let me interject here and there.

Best film
Slumdog Millionaire

Now considering that the nominees included Milk (Filmstalker review), The Reader, Frost/Nixon (Filmstalker review) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I'm rather surprised that Slumdog Millionaire (Filmstalker review) won this category, or rather I'm not. You see during the build up to this award the film was gaining win after win, and I was beginning to suspect it would. Don't get me wrong, it's a great film, I just think these films are better, however they aren't as British are they?

Slumdog Millionaire - Danny Boyle

Well I think that Danny Boyle does deserve an award for directing and out of the list of nominations he's right up there, but does he really beat David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, or is it another British favourite? I'm not saying that it's a conspiracy, and it really is a close call, but personally I'd put Button over Slumdog. Where would you place it?

Leading Actor
Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler

No questions. He really deserved it, despite the strong competition from Frank Langella and Sean Penn, both of whom I think are worthy nominees, and if Rourke hadn't made such a dramatic comeback then I would have been shouting for Penn.

Leading Actress
Kate Winslet - The Reader

I think this was a tough one to call, but there's no one who could say that Kate didn't deserve the award, nor the two nominations, but she certainly was up against some tough competition.

Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight

Well I've been very clear on my thoughts about this one, and while I agreed with Terry Gilliam's speech that he had so much yet to give, was this really the best supporting actor performance this year? I don't believe so. His performance was great and showed great things to come, but I believe it was really made by the excellent writing and the soundtrack.

Supporting Actress
Penélope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona

I did enjoy her turn Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Filmstalker review), but would anyone be in any doubt that it should have been Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler? I've seen stronger performances from Cruz herself, and Tomei really did deliver something special.

Original Screenplay
In Bruges - Martin McDonagh

Adapted Screenplay
Slumdog Millionaire - Simon Beaufoy

Oh, two minds again, and please don't think I'm anti-Slumdog Millionaire, I am not at all, I'm weighing each award up against the merits of the other nominees in my opinion, and in my opinion both Benjamin Button and Frost/Nixon were nightmare stories to adapt, Button in particular, and yet look how they both turned out, Button more so.

Academy fellowship
Terry Gilliam

I love the fact that Gilliam has finally been recognised. As some have said he's an anti-establishment man who's finally been entered into the establishment, but I think there's another way to look at it, the establishment have finally recognised his talent and what he's brought to their world. I much prefer it that way.

Outstanding British contribution to cinema
Pinewood Studios/ Shepperton Studios

Outstanding British Film
Man on Wire

Now, you know what, I think that this is an award that Slumdog Millionaire was a strong contender for, but Hunger and Man on Wire were both strong contenders. Mamma Mia! (Filmstalker review) was most definitely not.

The Carl Foreman Award for Special Achievement by a British Director, Writer or Producer for their First Feature Film
Steve McQueen

Yeah! While I wore a kilt in the audience, so did Steve McQueen, good bloke, and I'm always so proud of a Scotsman wearing a kilt in amongst a group where it could be so easily frowned upon. Toe the line and turn up in a dinner suit like James McAvoy, no way says McQueen. Good man. Also I think the award is well deserved.

Film not in the English language
I've Loved You So Long

I'm ashamed to say that I haven't seen this, and yet everything I see of it I'm reminded how strong it looks, especially with Kristin Scott Thomas looking wonderfully alluring. I have no idea how she looks so great, and those eyes, oh lord. I wish I'd met her on the red carpet!

Animated Film

Well I'm not so sure. If this was an award for best animation or most brick like moralistic tale or even the film that demonstrates the Pixar-Disney divide the best by allowing Pixar's opening show reel and then going all Disney on us, then this would win. However the Best Animated Film over two films that are timely, influential and have a great deal to say about our society today, and they do it far more intelligently and subtly than Wall-E (Filmstalker review).

Slumdog Millionaire - A. R. Rahman

Absolutely no argument there, the music tracks chosen were superbly woven with the story and added so much.

Slumdog Millionaire - Anthony Dod Mantle

Best Cinematography? Over Changeling, Benjamin Button and The Dark Knight (Filmstalker review)? Especially The Dark Knight? I'm not going for that one.

Slumdog Millionaire - Chris Dickens

Well we could argue the merits back and forth, but I really don't see one clear winner here and this is a choice that I couldn't personally make. What about you?

Production Design
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Donald Graham Burt / Victor J. Zolfo

Now here's one I agree with absolutely, the production design was superb for this film and really pulled you into the story and made you believe you were there and in that time, effortlessly, without question.

Costume Design
The Duchess - Michael O'Connor

Well it is a costume drama isn't it? However the re-imagined Joker should have been a contender, after all we're dab hands at period costumes aren't we?

Make Up & Hair
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Jean Black / Colleen Callaghan

Well with so much CGI involved, could this have gone elsewhere? Surely that's a Duchess award?

Slumdog Millionaire - Glenn Freemantle / Resul Pookutty / Richard Pryke / Tom Sayers / Ian Tapp

Oh I'm not so sure, take the music away and is it really Slumdog Millionaire that wins? What about the sound used to build the Joker in The Dark Knight? I think that was superb and really played a huge part in creating that character, and that's perhaps where I think it could have been better placed.

Special Visual Effects
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Eric Barba / Craig Barron / Nathan McGuinness / Edson Williams

Again, another award with no question. The effects in Benjamin Button were quite breathtaking, and when you weren't being taken along with the story you were admiring just how they could make Brad Pitt look that way.

Short Animation
Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death - Steve Pegram / Nick Park / Bob Baker

Yes it's a British vote, but it's also the right vote. Although I don't think that this short lived up to the promise of the previous, it really is a great short film with tons to laugh at and make you feel good, and at Xmas it did just that in the Brunton household.

Short Film
September - Stewart le Maréchal / Esther May Campbell

The Orange Rising Star Award (voted for by the public)
Noel Clarke

Well I can't really comment on this one as I've not seen Adulthood or Kidulthood, but I personally think that Rebecca Hall has had such a short career with so many distinguishable roles that it is quite amazing. Michael Fassbender and Toby Kebbell are great, but Hall has had strong role after strong role and they seem to keep coming. I'd be stuck between Hall and Kebbell or Fassbender I think.

What do you think? What are your thoughts on how the BAFTA's finally came out? Surely you can't agree with them all, and on an individual award level do you really believe that Slumdog Millionaire deserved to win all those over the other nominees?



I thought Ledger deserved it. I was riveted by that Joker. But look at it from Gilliam's point of view. There is no way they're gonna give the dead guy another set of awards after 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus' is released. Ledger would have to be transcendental in that film to be considered.

I don't know, it was a great performance but up against the others I'm not so sure. If he'd been alive I think the nomination would still be there but not the award.

I would have much preferred a posthumous award for his work and what could have been. I think that was more fitting.


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