Whenever an awards ceremony takes place, there is discussion about how the winners compare to previous victors.
To my shame, I haven’t seen Roma, but how do the previous eight winners compare to each other?
8) The Revenant (2015)
Alejandro G. Inarritu’s brutal Western earned Leonardo DiCaprio his long awaited Oscar, but the film lost out to Spotlight in the Best Picture race, despite being the favourite after winning at the BAFTAs. The Revenant is a film of many great moments, with the opening sequence, the famous bear mauling and a horseback chase being some of the most exquisitely directed action scenes in recent memory.
Fundamentally, the problems lie at the heart of the film with its story, in which we see a revenge story where the revenge isn’t all that exciting or rewarding; DiCaprio’s character traverses the wilderness to exact his vengeance on Tom Hardy, but the visceral feel gets lost amidst long stretches of silence and introspection.
7) Argo (2012)
This political-thriller from Ben Affleck surprised many when it won the top award at the Academy Awards, but it had been consistently performing well all awards season, with many ignoring the fact it won the BAFTA, SAG Ensemble and Golden Globe. Affleck himself stars as Tony Mendez, who leads a taskforce with the aim of rescuing six U.S. diplomats who are being held hostage in Iran. Though there was some controversy about narrative embellishments, this is a taut thriller which Affleck crafts brilliantly, making great use of a terrific cast and captivating story.
6) 12 Years A Slave (2013)
This powerful drama from Steve McQueen is simultaneously visceral and tender, flicking between acts of violence and warmth. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, a Washington D.C. resident who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, coming into contact with Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), a vicious plantation owner, in the process. Though the film never really makes you feel Solomon was indeed a slave for 12 years, McQueen effectively conveys the barbarity of the era through the great performances (especially from Lupita Nyong’o), sublime cinematography and astute direction.
5) The Artist (2011)
This French silent-film enchanted audiences and critics alike back in 2011, starring Jean Dujardin as an actor who gradually falls out of favour once movies with sound come into the mainstream. A snapshot into the past, Michel Hazanavicius’ film is lovingly made, featuring a fantastic musical score, sublime old-school cinematography, two wonderful lead performance and a delightfully breezy tone.
4) La La Land (2016)
This ravishing musical from Damien Chazelle became the victim of its own success, with a late backlash curtailing its bid for Oscar glory, which eventually went to Moonlight. Emma Stone won multiple Leading Actress awards for her role as Mia, an aspiring actress who begins a relationship with Seb (Ryan Gosling), a Jazz pianist who becomes successful after joining a pop band; the film then depicts their relationship and career trajectories in Los Angeles.
Though the cinematography, production design and musical numbers are dazzling, there is subtlety in the performances and screenplay, with the central relationship being utterly watchable and believable.
3) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
Last year’s winner is a sublime mix of drama, black comedy and crime. Frances McDormand is in fine form as Mildred, a mother grieving over the loss of her daughter, subsequently hiring billboards to promote her message of police inadequacy following a poor investigation into her murder.
Concurrently, Sam Rockwell’s racist cop Dixon is running amok, further emphasising Mildred’s point, though they do share some common ground. Featuring a terrific ensemble cast and dynamite script from writer-director Martin McDonagh, this is a wonderful mix of genres, whilst also capturing the languid feel of the American Midwest.
2) The King’s Speech (2010)
This crowd-pleaser is the most recognisably British film on the list, but its BAFTA win was followed up by an Oscar triumph, proving we don’t just hand out awards to undeserving home favourites. Tom Hooper’s biopic tells the story of King George VI (Colin Firth), who hires Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), to help overcome his speech impediment. The underdog story is accessible, with the script being tender and humorous, but Hooper brings real flair with the framing and art direction, whilst Firth, Rush and Helena Bonham Carter all excel in their roles.
1) Boyhood (2014)
Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age epic earned rave reviews, with the majority of the attention being drawn to its 12-year production schedule. The film follows Mason’s (Ellar Coltrane) path from childhood to university, with the narrative being nothing other than small interactions with his father (Ethan Hawke) and mother (Patricia Arquette), with a few arguments with his sister (Lorelei Linklater) wedged in between.
Though the emphasis on minimalism might turn off a few, this stunning recreation of childhood is a joy to behold, and another fabulous work from one of the great directors working today.
For full news of this year’s BAFTAs, including the implications for the upcoming Academy Awards, do keep updated with our extensive awards season coverage.