BAFTAs glory for Cate Blanchett and Austin Butler gives a taste of what’s to come at the Oscars

The world’s biggest movie stars gathered at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTAs) to honour the best British and international contributions to film.

The stars were in royal company, with the Prince and Princess of Wales among the attendees at London’s Royal Festival Hall on Sunday night.

As many had expected, Australian Cate Blanchett went home with the award for best actress for her acclaimed performance in Tar.

But perhaps unexpectedly, Elvis actor Austin Butler picked up the award for best actor, surpassing his more seasoned fellow nominees.

Next week, the same actors, producers and directors will join up again for the 28th Screen Actors Guild Awards.

A few weeks later, the awards season will come to a close with the film industry’s night of nights, the Academy Awards, on March 13.

Although the BAFTAs are not typically the best precursor for best picture, they can be a good indication of which actors and actresses win big at the Oscars.

Will Smith won best actor at the 2022 BAFTAs for his role in King Richard, and weeks later did the same at the Academy Awards.

CODA actor Troy Kotsur had a similar path, picking up best supporting actor in the UK before winning the gong at the Oscars.

Boost for Blanchett

Blanchett – who already has two Oscars to her name for acting roles – has had a seamless path through awards season.

She picked up best actress at the Golden Globes for best actress in a drama role for her role as a fictional German conductor in Tar.

Blanchett has also been honoured at dozens of international film festivals, including Venice and Palm Springs.

At the BAFTAs, Blanchett beat fellow Oscar nominees Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once) and Ana de Armas (Blonde).

Blanchett recognised her fellow nominees in her acceptance speech: “All of my fellow nominees – the conversations with you off the screen and on the screen have been nothing short of remarkable and we know that we’re just the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

At this point, with such a triumphant awards season, it would be a surprise if her name is not called on Oscars night.

If so, Blanchett will join an exclusive club of top Oscars winners – becoming only the fifth woman in history to win three gongs for acting.

Meryl Streep, Ingrid Bergman and Frances McDormand have all won three, while Katherine Hepburn holds the record with four wins.

Blanchett’s win places her as the bookies’ firm favourite to take the best actress award at the Oscars.

Hot on her heels is Yeoh, whose sci-fi adventure Everything Everywhere All at Once leads with 11 nominations at the Academy Awards.

Yeoh, like Blanchett, also found success at the Golden Globes. She also won best actress, instead in the musical or comedy category – making her another top favourite for the Oscar.

Surprise for Butler

Going into the glitzy awards season, Elvis star Butler was considered the ‘underdog’ of the men’s categories.

He has been up against like Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Brendan Fraser (The Whale) and Bill Nighy (Living). Against such names, many thought his chances were slim.

But the ‘hound dog’ is an underdog no more.

Just weeks ago, Butler took home the Golden Globe award for Best Actor.

And he took home the BAFTA for best actor on Sunday night, despite fellow nominees Farrell and Nighy having the hometown advantage.

Butler was stunned to receive the “tremendous honour”.

Elvis, while a film about the life of the all-American music legend, was filmed on the Gold Coast and headed up by Australian director Baz Luhrmann.

Luhrmann was snubbed in the director category, but Elvis found success elsewhere.

The film snagged the awards for best casting and best make-up, and Luhrmann’s wife and long-time collaborator Catherine Martin won best costume design.

Lurhrmann wasn’t nominated for his directing at the Oscars, either – although Elvis is still nominated for eight Oscars, including best picture.

A ‘quiet’ threat

German war film All Quiet on the Western Front had resounding success at the BAFTAs, although it barely made a splash at the Golden Globes, earning just one nod for best foreign language film.

But the World War I epic received seven BAFTA awards – including best film and best director.

Just a few years ago, foreign language films were considered a small threat to English films in the big categories.

But South Korean thriller Parasite broke that mould in 2020 when it won best picture at the Oscars, the first non-English language film to do so in Academy Award history.

Screenwriter Jenelle Riley told Variety the playing field has levelled considerably since Parasite’s historic win.

“Since Parasite won best picture at the Oscars, the foreign language issue doesn’t seem to be an issue. People seem to be embracing movies no matter where they’re from,” she said.

A mixed bag

All Quiet on the Western Front’s BAFTAs victory could either be a good indicator, or an unwanted omen.

From 2008 to 2013, the BAFTAs and Oscars were lockstep in their choices for best picture.

But since 2013, they’ve only been in agreement one year, 2021, when both chose Nomadland for their top prize.

In reality, the film to be awarded best picture at the Oscars is anyone’s guess.

The BAFTAs chose All Quiet on the Western Front, while the Golden Globes chose Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans as best drama and The Banshees of Inisherin as best comedy.

Meanwhile, Everything Everywhere All at Once won at the Critics Choice Awards, and the film’s directors ‘The Daniels’ (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) won the top prize at the Directors Guild of America’s DGA awards on Saturday night.

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