The British Academy Film Awards 2021

Sunday:The British Academy Film Awards 2021; (BBC One, 7pm)

Saturday, 10th April 2021, 5:00 pm
Edith Bowman and Dermot O'Leary
Edith Bowman and Dermot O'Leary

Let’s face it, award shows are sycophantic and feel a little false. So why are we continually drawn to the predictable run of well-rehearsed accolades, TV clips, a conveyor belt of celebrity guests droning “…and the winner is…”?

The answer is, quite simply, because they’re addictive. From the moment you dare to mutter, “Let’s just watch this bit…” you’re hooked, unable to tear yourself away from “just one more” clip or the next star guest.

Of course, the Baftas are a little bit different. The Oscars may be more in-your-face, but when it comes to understated glamour with a classy edge, our own celebration of the great and good of the film world wins hands down.

The Oscars are still a fortnight away too, so the Brits are getting in first as Dermot O’Leary and Edith Bowman host the 74th British Academy Film Awards from the Royal Albert Hall, where things are going to be a little bit different than usual – for a start, there will be no live audience, which means there will be less back-slapping than we’re used to. And after being criticised last year for not having a single person of colour represented in the acting categories, 16 of the 24 nominees come from ethnic minorities; there’s also a record number of women in the running for Best Director – four in total.

“This year’s nominations showcase and celebrate the remarkable range of performances and nominees behind the camera from 50 films and we’re delighted to recognise such high-quality work,” says Krishnendu Majumdar, Chair of BAFTA. “We are also delighted to see the strength of British film shine through in all categories

“After last year’s nominations, we started the BAFTA Review process with the intention of levelling the playing field and introduced a range of measures to ensure that all entered films were seen by our members and judged on merit. We hope today you can see some of those changes reflected in the breadth and depth of those nominated and we congratulate all our nominees.”

Leading the way with seven nods each are Nomadland and Rocks, with The Father, Mank, Minari and Promising Young Woman not too far behind on six.

And although the diverse range of nominees has rightly been applauded, there are a few big names who have surprisingly been left out, including Olivia Colman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Viola Davis and Gary Oldman. Instead, newer blood such as Radha Blank, Tahar Rahim and Barry Keoghan are in the running, although few would bet against the late Chadwick Boseman receiving a posthumous award for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

“The last year has seen the Covid-19 pandemic impact everyone, and the film industry is no exception,” adds Amanda Berry, Bafta’s chief executive. “Film has always held an essential place in our culture but I think we can all agree that it has been even more important during this time. I very much look forward to celebrating the incredible talent of all our nominees.”

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