The McNeil Minute | The 2021 BAFTA Winners

The BAFTAs: The Last Stop Before The Oscars

The BAFTA Awards, or the British Academy Awards, is the last major awards ceremony during Awards Season before The Oscars. Here, as expected, we had many winners that weren't surprises, we had a couple upsets, and we had even more certainties confirmed. Last year, 1917 took home the top prize which solidified its campaign as a front-runner. Parasite was nipping at its heels and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was the dark horse candidate that could swoop in and take it home. This year, we have a somewhat similar situation brewing. Nomadland is our front-runner, currently. Even before the BAFTAs. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is close second. And Minari is the quiet assassin, laying in the weeds. As I've mentioned in previous articles, the Best Actress race is perhaps the tightest race we've ever seen. And the outcome from the BAFTAs has only added to that drama. The other races have either solidified themselves, or have been further complicated by the winners here. Without further ado, let's jump right into it.

Special Visual Effects

Tenet took home this award at the BAFTAs and was pretty much our front-runner throughout the entirety of Awards Season. Now, before we jump up out of our seats and lock this race down, The Midnight Sky brought home the Visual Effects Society award. This race is far from over. I was ready to give Tenet the Oscar as well, but losing VES hurts its chances quite a bit. Winning the BAFTA certainly helps, but it was never going to lose. That said, The Midnight Sky now positions itself as a close #2 to Tenet at the Oscars. So, this race is anything but wrapped up for Tenet. Especially since the British Academy loves to award its own, including Christopher Nolan. Warner Bros always has strong campaigns at the Oscars, but watch out for Netflix to make a strong push for The Midnight Sky in this category.

Best Sound

If there was ever a category that is completely locked up, it's this one. Sound of Metal continues its dominance in this category throughout the course of Awards Season, and rightfully so. The sound design in this film is so unique and what I would like to imagine to be spot-on. If you have seen the film, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't, this film begs to be seen for its performances, but also, its incredible sound design. This is almost sure to win the Oscar - I simply can't imagine it not winning. Quite honestly, I can't see what would even win over it. So, again, Sound of Metal IS going to win the Oscar. You can count on it.

Make-up and Hair

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom pulls off yet another win in this category, making its case for the Oscar even stronger. My prediction has proven incorrect prior to Awards Season really kicking off. I thought that Hillbilly Elegy might win this category for its remarkable transformation of Glenn Close, even if the film itself was lackluster to say the least. Regardless, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is more than deserving of this award and it's now likely to win the Oscar, based on its consistent dominance.

Costume Design

Chalk up yet another victory for Ann Roth and her costume design in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. The film is technically great just as it is narratively and performance-wise, in my opinion. It seems the Academy did not agree as it missed out on a Best Picture nomination. Despite that, it seems it will be winning categories like this from here on. It seems to me that this should be locked up, as far as the Oscar is concerned for Costume and Makeup and Hair. I understand how boring it is to have the same film win everything and go on to win the Oscar, taking away any surprise. But, such is the nature of an extended Awards Season. Thanks, COVID.

Production Design

Mank has taken this category once again and I believe it will do so at the Oscars, as well. Unfortunately, despite leading in nominations, it will likely only win this category. Mank will sort of be this year's The Irishman as it had 10 nominations and no wins last year. Now, Mank will at least have this one to hang its hat on, but sadly it will win nothing else. My predictions for this film will not ring true at all, as I felt it would win a lot more than just this. I also thought it would win Best Original Screenplay back in December, but it wasn't even nominated there. At the time, I felt it had the best writing of the year. Alas, if Promising Young Woman wins (which it should) then all would be right with the world. If The Trial of the Chicago 7 wins, we're gonna have some problems. In any case, Mank is set to win production design after this win at the BAFTAs, if there was ever any doubt.

Film Editing

Sound of Metal takes home yet another Best Film Editing award, which solidifies itself as the leading film in this category. I have mentioned before that this film is very much deserving of this award. So I'm definitely satisfied with the outcome here, and I would be happy about it winning the golden statue at the (American) Academy Awards, as well. It was my hope that The Father would win the BAFTA, and I'm honestly surprised that it didn't. Since it did not here, I have my doubts about its Oscar prospects. That said, this opens up the slim possibility that The Trial of the Chicago 7 could take home the Oscar, but hopefully not. Despite the loss for The Father, which I felt had the best, most effective Film Editing of the year, I am still glad that Sound of Metal won the BAFTA and I will be equally as happy if it brings home the gold at the Oscars.

Best Cinematography

Nomadland has another trophy to add to its collection in the cinematography category. And really, there's no surprise here once again. It's another win I honestly couldn't argue with if I tried, but it's getting a little annoying that we have another category that's completely one-sided. My favorite cinematography of the year belongs to Judas and the Black Messiah, and I'm sure to most I'm beginning to sound like a broken record in that regard. But, I'm glad it's at least being recognized with a nomination in this category. It is a little bit of a surprise to anyone who believes that black and white cinematography can and should take home every cinematography award. I will say, at the beginning of awards season, I thought that Mank might be the one to annihilate its competition. Not so. The naturalistic cinematography of Nomadland has captured the hearts, minds, and eyes of everyone throughout the course of Awards Season and will likely do so at the Oscars, as well.

Best Original Score

It's growing harder and harder to say anything new in this category. Soul takes home yet another accolade in the Original Score category and I can honestly say with absolute certainty it will also win the Oscar. It pains me because the best score of the year, Ludwig Goransson's score for Tenet, wasn't even nominated here nor at the Oscars. Regardless, I'm happy for Reznor, Ross, and Batiste for their beautiful work on this film. It's very much deserved, but I can't help mourn the loss of even the opportunity for Goransson and Tenet.

Adapted Screenplay

We finally have something new to say in this category. A nice change of pace always does some good. Chloe Zhao's adaptation of the novel Nomadland had been winning nearly everything prior to this point. Florian Zeller's adaptation of his own stageplay The Father won the BAFTA here, with the help of Christopher Hampton. The Father had been nominated for so much, but had won so little to this point. It's very nice to see it finally win something, and deservedly so. The Father is a brilliant, excellent piece of writing and I was very glad to see it win here, finally. This is not to say that Nomadland ISN'T, because it very much is deserving of all the wins. It was just cool to see Zeller finally win for his heartfelt, heartbreaking piece. It will also be interesting to see if this throws a wrench into the mix at the Oscars, but I doubt it.

Original Screenplay

This race has just about been locked up after her win at WGA, and now she has the BAFTA, as well. Emerald Fennell won for her work on Promising Young Woman. It was looking like Aaron Sorkin might take home the Oscar here for his mediocre work on The Trial of the Chicago 7, but it's looking like Emerald Fennell has this in the bag. Granted, the Academy loves Sorkin, so he still may have a shot. But, after all these wins for Fennell and PYW, it doesn't look likely for him. As for her, I believe the Oscar is as good as hers.

Best Director

Chloe Zhao seems to have this race well in hand, now. She has continued her sweep of this category throughout the entirety of Awards Season, and I don't see it stopping now. I was of the mindset, prior to her dominant streak, that maybe we would have a picture and director split. Fincher for Director, and Nomadland for Picture. Now, it's looking like a director and picture sweep. I believe Chloe Zhao will win the Oscar for her Direction in Nomadland, but that was long before she started her long bout of victories, namely her recent BAFTA win.

Animated Film

There's really not much to say here, either. Soul has taken home yet another Animated Film win and is almost certain to do so at the Oscars, as well. I thought that maybe here Wolfwalkers would have a fighting chance, but not so. I believe this is more than deserved and I will be happy to see it bring home the bacon at the Oscars as it was one of my favorite films of 2020.

Best Documentary

My Octopus Teacher has seemingly come out of nowhere to steal away all these Documentary Film awards. With Netflix behind it, it's sure to have a strong campaign and advocate behind it. I had an idea of what I felt would win, but this film certainly has complicated things. I still believe that Time from Amazon Studios should win at the Oscars, but this could be the one that might bring down the upset hammer upon it.

Film Not In The English Language

I was pleasantly surprised to see Another Round upset Minari in this category. It's abundantly clear to me that it's only been between these two, and that the other nominees simply have no chance. I know that Minari is beloved by many, myself included, but I'm so happy to see more love for Another Round. Personally, I prefer this film and I had a blast with it. I'm glad to see it win here and I have no doubt that it will take home the Oscar, as well.

Outstanding British Film

While this has nothing to do with the Oscars, it was interesting to see Promising Young Woman take this away from The Father. I was fairly confident that they would give this to The Father, but perhaps this might improve Promising Young Woman's standing in the consciousness of the Academy. Again, I don't feel this has anything to do with the Oscars. I just thought it was a fascinating upset.

Best Supporting Actor

No surprise here as Daniel Kaluuya takes home yet another award for his performance in Judas and the Black Messiah as Fred Hampton, the proverbial Black Messiah. This solidifies his dominance and his position as the clear front-runner for the Oscar. I believe he will win and it's the most deserving performance of the bunch. All is right with the world, so to speak, in this category, anyway.

Supporting Actress

This race, as I've mentioned before, is pretty up in the air. Maria Bakalova had been dominating the category for awhile, but lately, not so much. Yuh-jung Youn for her performance as the Grandma in Minari won SAG and now the BAFTA. She may have leaped ahead as the leader in this category. Granted, the Academy voters have likely cast their ballots before any of this has even happened. So who knows if this will have any significant impact on the outcome. I do believe though, however, that Youn will win for her performance in Minari in this category. I believe she is the most deserving of the front-runners. I personally don't see the appeal in Bakalova winning. Sure, her comedic performance is good in the film, it just doesn't feel like an Oscar-worthy performance by any means. If you've been following my moaning throughout Awards Season, you'll know that I've been rooting for Amanda Seyfried's performance in Mank, but all for naught. She's the least likely to win in the category, but I can still hold out hope.

Leading Actor

Perhaps the biggest upset of the night, here. Chadwick Boseman had been sweeping clean the entirety of Awards Season. And no one could really argue, myself included. However, the BAFTAs rolled around and a small theory of mine rang true. The British Academy opted for Sir Anthony Hopkins' unbelievable performance in The Father. I was very happy to see him finally take one home, for what I believe is the best male leading performance of the year, no disrespect to the late, great Chadwick Boseman. I also believe that Riz Ahmed is more than deserving of a win here, and probably would any other year. But we have what is quite possibly the most competitive Best Lead Actor performance pool I've ever seen. Anthony Hopkins' win here has the possibility of complicating the race a bit, but not probable. I still feel Chadwick Boseman has this Oscar nailed down, but watch out for the unlikely candidate that is Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Leading Actress

As I alluded to earlier, this might be the most complicated race of them all. Viola Davis, Carey Mulligan, and Andra Day have all won awards prior to the BAFTAs, and none of them were nominated here. This leaves Vanessa Kirby and Frances McDormand who are the lone Oscar nominees who are present here at the BAFTAs. Vanessa Kirby needed this win in order to have a realistic shot at the Oscar. That being said, Frances McDormand won for her beautifully restrained performance in Nomadland. So, this means that 4 out of the 5 nominated actresses in this category have won at least one of the major Awards Season ceremonies leading up to the Oscars. Again, since Kirby has not won a single award thus far, except at Venice back in 2020, it's the much less likely she's realistically in contention. So, the leading four are very close as far as odds go at this point. I still feel that perhaps there's more hype and momentum around Carey Mulligan's performance, but I could be wrong. I believe she is the front-runner right now, but it's not by a lot. Again, this is perhaps the closest race for Best Actress we have ever seen. It could go to anyone and it would be deserved, no matter who wins. It's almost completely up in the air. How exciting!

Best Film

And now, for the top prize. Quite unsurprisingly, Nomadland has taken this home once again. Now, before I tell you how much of a huge front-runner it is, The Trial of the Chicago 7 did win Best Ensemble at SAG. And remember, this is a pretty solid indicator of what might win Best Picture at the Oscars. Exhibit A: Parasite last year. The fact that Nomadland wasn't even nominated in that category is perhaps telling, but who knows? Nomadland's continued dominance is indicative of what is the front-runner right now, but the vexing love surrounding The Trial of the Chicago 7 and the universal praise of Minari are what will keep those in the running. Netflix has been known to be a strong campaigner as they are gunning for their first ever Best Picture Oscar and A24 has been known to position their films well for the Oscar, given Moonlight's surprise win back in 2017. But, let's not forget the behemoth Disney is behind Nomadland ever since they acquired Fox Searchlight Pictures (now known as Searchlight Pictures) back in 2018 ish. You can realistically make a case for any of these films, and even Promising Young Woman as a dark horse that nobody's talking about in the Best Picture category, that is. One thing is for certain, Nomadland ever since it made history winning both TIFF and Venice last year has positioned itself as the odds-on favorite to win the ever-coveted golden statue for Best Picture, and it has yet to slow down since. But, we must keep our eyes on the lurking candidates that aren't going down easy...


What do you think? Do you agree with my predictions? Did you like the winners?


Let me know in the comments!

Rob McNeil

My name is Rob McNeil. I was born and raised in Normal, Illinois and I am a 28 year-old award winning screenwriter. I am very passionate about film, so much that I watch far too many films on a daily basis. I have written fifteen feature screenplays, a spec pilot thriller series, and several short scripts. I aim to make filmmaking a career, but for now, I will write about it.

Rob McNeil

My name is Rob McNeil. I was born and raised in Normal, Illinois and I am a 28 year-old award winning screenwriter. I am very passionate about film, so much that I watch far too many films on a daily basis. I have written fifteen feature screenplays, a spec pilot thriller series, and several short scripts. I aim to make filmmaking a career, but for now, I will write about it.

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