18 January, 2011

My Annual Bafta Annoyance 2011

Another year in my rant against the BAFTA's for cheating their own eligibility requirements in order to nominate films that haven't actually been released and usually are merely imminent around the time of the award ceremonies themselves. I hate this because I feel that the general public should have a chance to have seen all the films before the nominations.

I have no quibble with the films released in the UK in the calendar year being honoured, in this case 2010. However, a significant portion of those nominated have been released in 2011, and, as usual at least one even fails BAFTA's own requirements. This is an utterly craven pandering to the distributors.

Let's remind ourselves of this year's requirements:


Films must be released theatrically in the UK, within the Academy awards year:
1 January to 31 December 2010. Films that open between 1 January and 11 February 2011 inclusive may be 'qualified' by Distributors by being screened to Academy Film Voting Members by Tuesday 21 December 2010.

To be eligible, a feature film must:

  • be feature-length, i.e. with a running time exceeding 60 minutes;
  • receive its first public exhibition or distribution in the UK as a theatrical release;
  • be exhibited publicly to a paying audience within a commercial cinema in the UK for no fewer than seven consecutive days.

Films from all countries are eligible in all categories, with the exception of Outstanding British Film, Outstanding Debut, Short Film and Short Animation which are for British films only.

Four quite heavily nominated films are released in 2011, all after the nomination announcements. These are Black Swan (11 nominations, release Jan 21st), Biutiful (2 nominations, Jan 28th), The Fighter (3 nominations, Feb 4th) and True Grit (8 nominations, Feb 11th). The first three squeak in and meet the late eligibility requirements. True Grit is released on the last day of Eligibility period, but it fails the "publicly to a paying audience... for no fewer than seven consecutive days." as the award ceremony is two days later on the 13th.

Previous years have seen these films so dishonourably nominated:

2008 Latest Open Date 8th Feb, Awards 10th Feb.
There Will be Blood (15th Feb )

2009 Latest Open Date 6th Feb, Awards 8th Feb.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (6th Feb 2009)
Doubt (6th Feb 2009)
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (13th Feb 2009 released after the eligibility and the awards)

2010 Latest Open Date 19th Feb, Awards 21st Feb.
The Lovely Bones (19 February 2010).

This may seem horribly pedantic, but my main point is that awards should be nominated and awarded from a level playing field, say a given 12 month period, not skewed to only films which have theatrical, or now possibly DVD releases that create synergy with the date of the Awards ceremony. I don't begrudge the films or their makers nominations, but this should reflect merit, not the machinations of film distributors. This also leaves the BAFTAs open to the accusation that they are an irrelevant stop-gap between the Golden Globes and the Oscars, as they bend their eligibility to include films that have earlier release dates in North America and are more suitably eligible for those awards.

This year I will make a much more solid attempt to get this rant some traction, watch this space...

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At 03 March, 2011 15:54, Blogger Tara said...

Dear Brian, I hope you are the person I remember from U Penn ... tara casey

At 06 March, 2011 01:22, Blogger Brian R Tarnoff said...

Yes that's me Tara. (like there's more than one o' me, with my ridiculous moniker). It would be good to hear from you. Cheers.


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