Ignored by the BAFTAS

I take even less notice of the British Films Awards than I do of those of the Hollywood Academy. The latter clearly affect box office performance but I have not seen any evidence that the former do. And the BAFTA members show rather less attention to British Cinema than they do to the international box office. It is interesting to compare the British process with that of the French César Awards which show an interest and appreciation of French film production.

Now, this year, one of the titles up for Best Film is Netflix’s Don’t Look Up. According to IMDb the title has only been released in the UK on the internet. I can visualise poor exhibitors sticking pins in BAFTA member dolls. I have suspected for some time that both the majority membership of the Academy and of the BAFTAs only view titles on digital video or streaming. I wonder how they are able to judge the quality of productions that are still presented in their ceremonies as ‘films’.

I have always thought that the problem with the BAFTAS is epitomised by the record for Charlotte Rampling who has never got a mention. She has won awards at the Hollywood Academy, the French Césars and the European Awards. The 2015 title 45 Years was honoured at the BAFTAS as was Tom Courtney. But Charlotte Rampling had to rely on the Hollywood Academy and the Berlin Film Festival for recognition.


  1. john David hall

    I take your point about the limited distribution of films that are up for major awards, but I think in the case of ‘Don’t Look Up’ I recall it got an airing at Home in Manchester at least. I didn’t see it. I found I had to go to Everyman, Leeds, to catch ‘The Green Knight’ which I did want to see (although preferably not at a pizza parlour). By such avoidance of normal film distribution do the content providers assure their directors and stars that they may still be eligible for major awards, even if the intention is that most viewers of the film see it on Netflix or Amazon Prime.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. keith1942

    IMDB usually note when there are special screenings like festivals etc but there is no mention of this for ‘Don’t Look Up’. John is right about the reasoning behind theatrical releases for Netflix. It started, as I remember, so Netflix titles could quality at the Cannes Film Festival. The Hollywood Academy has always had a requirement for a theatrical screening to quality for nomination but this has been suspended during the covid pandemic. One hopes that it will return.
    However, lots of the nominated titles are circulated to Academy members on video. I reckon that for the BAFTAS the majority of members viewed ‘Don’t Look Up’ on streaming; though it also possible that some of them have not even seen it but still voted for the title.
    It has long been my suspicion that quite a few reviewers for S&S watch the titles on video or streams.
    IMDB also states that ‘Don’t Look Up’ originated on 35mm but it looks like it is only exhibited on digital formats, which is a shame. I remember seeing ‘Carol’ on digital and on 35mm and the colour, in particular, was superior on the latter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Roy Stafford

      I don’t think IMDb is completely reliable on screenings, especially over the last few years when occasional screenings before an official release online or in cinemas are increasingly common. I don’t know if a screening in cinemas outside North America counts as qualification for nominations for the Academy Oscars? (I wasn’t aware the qualification had changed during the pandemic.) A couple of other points: 1. Does it make a difference now that Netflix is officially a member of the MPPA, i.e. institutionally a Hollywood studio? 2: BAFTA has consistently nominated films that haven’t yet opened in the UK, so unless members are abroad or can access films at BAFTA’s own cinema screenings, the practice of watching previews on video must have been common practice for some time? Like you I don’t take too much notice of these things so I’d be grateful for any clarification on the latter point. I also agree that a BAFTA event celebrating British Cinema more along the lines of the Césars would be a good thing. Here’s Wikipedia’s summary of the Césars and their associated procedures.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. keith1942

    Useful points Roy. I have noticed that IMDB is not completely reliable but I do not know of a more informative source. Wikipedia is better in many ways but limited in the amount of technical information. And S&S gives less and less.
    The Academy Awards used to require a screening in Hollywood or possibly all of Los Angeles. It seems that the BAFTAS have no such requirements. It would be nice if both sets of awards provided information on how voters have viewed the title; quite easy with digital information but I realise unlikely. In S&S’s case it should be mandatory.
    There is also the question of what people see, even in a cinema. IMDB gives the screenings formats for ‘Don’t look Up’ as – D Cinema – DCP – and video Ultra High definition. If IMDB is right these are not available in Britain. But I think I have come across screenings that used an internet source; that presumably is technically possible? Which highlights the problem that very few exhibitors provide information on what is the source being used.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. keith1942

    So the Academy Award nominations are out and I have only just noticed the change bought in for 2020; ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ is now ‘Best International Feature Film’. Wikipedia has a detailed page on the Award. This includes the following interesting requirement;
    “Final voting for the winner is restricted to active and life Academy members who have attended exhibitions of all five nominated films. Members who have watched the Foreign Language Film entries only on videocassette or DVD are ineligible to vote.”
    The other Academy Award nominees do not seem to have this requirement. In fact members can view them on a digital streaming platform; so it looks like most of the nominations do not require being viewed in a cinema. The question is whether the Academy treats the platform as ‘exhibition’?

    Liked by 1 person


    Take your point, and agree. How are Don’t Look Up! or The Power of the Dog cinema films? It didn’t play in commercial chains. They’re not going to get a bump from nominations or wins, so why give them an award that’s supposedly for cinema? I’m a BAFTA voter, and the system for voting simply doesn’t work. You watch a film, go to vote, and the film is missing from the lists. The result creates diversity, but at the expense of logic, continuity or consistency; it’s farcical that Judi Dench scores an Oscar nomination, but not a BAFTA nom, in a system that’s supposedly bent towards UK talent. We’re letting down cinema, exhibitors and audience by not creating a seperate tier for films that don’t have a 45 day cinemtic window. It’s not complicated.


  6. keith1942

    Interesting and not inspiring. I looked at the Wikipedia BAFTA page. It states that nominations require a cinema exhibition; there is no indication [as with the Oscars] if that has changed during the pandemic. And, unlike the Oscars, there is not information about how voting works. It would be useful to know how the BAFTA award voting works?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.