But the BAFTAs are quietly as important as their American counterpart—and with a heritage that proves it to be less for the glitz and the celebrity, and more of an appreciation for the artform. As a frontrunner for the Best Actress award, our cover star Michelle Yeoh joins the most glimmering stars at 195 Piccadilly as they celebrate the power of film. Originating as the British Film Academy, the event was founded by quite the impressive roster of filmmakers: David Lean, Powell and Pressburger, Alexander Korda, Carol Reed and others, all joined together to award their contemporaries. It would only transform into its current iteration in 1976 under the Royal Family—the famous golden masks introduced by American sculptors Mitzi Cutliffe. The very first recipient? None other than Charles Chaplin.
Magic of The Baftas
Over the years, winning artists were more known for their craft—even in the arthouse genre—than for mainstream cinema. The biggest winners include Woody Allen, Alfonso Cuaron, Louis Malle, Peter Weir, and other masters; some of them having made more complex films, like Malle’s Lacombe Lucien. While this is also a worldly list, the recipients of acting awards pay homage to Britain’s own acting talent. Lawrence Olivier shares the most golden masks with Michael Caine (Olivier was actually presented his award by his then wife Vivian Leigh on the first broadcast in 1956). Favourites for this year include two non-British performers: the Americans Austin Butler and Brendan Fraser, for Elvis and The Whale, and Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Inisherin. Whispers suggest the award is all Fraser’s.
Michelle Yeoh’s constant acclaim following her role as an Asian-immigrant mother in Everything, Everywhere all at Once seems destined to earn her a BAFTA award for Best Actress. She’s hotly touted to win her first golden mask for a performance that is both heartfelt and physically impressive. In past years, the winner will go on to win at the Academy Awards, too.
The Best Film category looks to offer a surprising result. Edward Berger’s adaptation of the harrowing All Quiet on the Western Front is a late favourite—a film that made more of an impression among critics and audiences in Britain than it did in America. Banshees… would be a close second for this award, but each movie is set to earn results, with murmurs suggesting that Martin McDonagh is leading the race for Best Director.These are The Rake’s informed predictions for the BAFTAs, but as with all award ceremonies, twists and turns are more than likely to unfold on the night. Some may even be controversial.
You can read our interview with Michelle Yeoh, ahead of the awards ceremony, in the latest issue of The Rake.