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  • Writer's picturePaul Gainey

The British Academy Film Awards

The British Academy Film Awards are rarely ones to rock the boat, and this year’s nominees are a perfect case in point.

With two weeks still to go until the ceremony, the campaigning is only just warming up, but a picture of where things might land on Sunday February 18 is starting to coalesce.

So let me stick my oar in early: here’s who should win.



It’s been said before, but an experimental drama about nuclear fission becoming a huge summer multiplex hit is the most exciting thing to happen to cinema in years. It’s a difficult for BAFTA because it’s a really strong category this year and I have liked all the films nominated, especially The Holdovers, Killers of the Flower Moon and Anatomy of a Fall. But the combined artistic and commercial clout of Nolan’s film makes it seemingly unbeatable: what more could the British film industry want?


The Zone of Interest

This is a largely impressive, almost dizzyingly wide-ranging list: British cinema had a fine year. But in terms of artistry, craftsmanship and shattering impact, Jonathan Glazer’s Auschwitz drama is leagues ahead. Could be pressed by Poor Things with it’s wild performances, verbal fireworks, dreamy world-building which are all irresistible.


Christopher Nolan

Lots of skilful handling of tricky material in the list above, but Nolan’s turning of a physicist biopic into box-office-shaking spectacle with substance is the heftiest achievement.

Britain’s most successful working director has been nominated in this category only once before, for Dunkirk – and then lost – which is so obviously mad that members should be falling over themselves this year to make sure he wins outright.


Cillian Murphy

Do you pick Murphy, the seasoned supporting artist seizing his moment in the spotlight, or Paul Giamatti, in The Holdovers, distilling everything he does best down to its funniest, most moving essence? A close thing, but the steely force of Murphy’s work should clinch it. Murphy wins at the Baftas, Giamatti wins at the Oscars.


Emma Stone, Poor Things

Her five rivals are excellent, but in Poor Things, Stone covers every note they hit collectively and more. Yes, Stone won here once before seven years ago for La La Land, but with a performance this courageously unhinged, no Bafta member is going to feel a second is superfluous.


Robert Downey Jr, Oppenheimer

After a decade-plus of Downey the Marvel Star, Oppenheimer reminded the world what an extraordinarily compelling actor he could be too. There are few career shifts awards season loves more than this.


Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

One of those rare technically accomplished turns that looks effortless, Randolph’s performance in The Holdovers is its secret weapon.


How to Have Sex

The best debuts are the ones that make you excited to see what their makers’ second, third, even tenth films might look like, and Molly Manning Walker’s felt like the first chirp from an exciting new voice. Walker’s film is the only nominee to appear in other categories, which strongly indicates a breath of support its rivals lack.

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