With Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel leading in the nominations this year, 2015’s BAFTAs look set to champion some of the more alternative and offbeat films of the last 12 months, rather than just the box office big-hitters. The disturbing genius of Johnathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, which features the unlikely combination of Scarlett Johansson and the city of Glasgow, is up for Best Film, while saucer-eyed paintings are the subject of Tim Burton’s Big Eyes with Amy Adams, and the stylish new biopic of Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything, also looks set to scoop a healthy amount of awards with nominations for Best Film, Best Actor and Best Actress.
Best Actor and Actress nominations this year may be a little less starry than in 2014 (which included Tom Hanks, Leonardo de Caprio, Sandra Bullock and Emma Thompson to name just a few), but have a better range of both established and emerging leads. Amy Adams is up once again for an award after last year’s rather surprising win for American Hustle, and Jake Glynnenhaal receives a nomination for the first time since his Best Actor win with Brokeback Mountain in 2006. His Brokeback Mountain co-star Reese Wetherspoon is also up for an award with Wild, the story of a woman’s journey on the Pacific Crest Trail after her mothers death, breakups and years of personal destruction. Wild was actually adapted by Wetherspoon herself for her new production company, Pacific Standard, and shows yet another angle of Reece’s acting versatility with a great soundtrack to go with it.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of wartime cryptanalyst Alan Turing is absolutely deserving, but bittersweet. Turing himself, arguably the father of modern computer science, was prosecuted in the early 1950’s for ‘homosexual acts’, underwent a form of chemical castration, and died by poisoning in a likely suicide just short of his 42nd birthday. Now celebrated worldwide for his achievements and given a royal pardon for his alleged crime in 2013, it is sadly all too late for Turing himself. The film chooses not to dwell too much on this particular facet of Turing’s life, a fact that has been criticised by some, but it is nonetheless a strong and emotional journey through his professional struggles and achievements.
Perhaps a little less deserving is the Best Actress nomination for Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl. The book, which had been an international bestseller on its release, was engaging enough but the resulting film has been viewed as an unnecessarily long yawn-fest. Pike’s irritating voice-over, a kind of depressed Sex and the City type affair, means Affleck’s murder or non-murder of his wife is, in the end, irrelevant – who cares? If Pike wins the award for this, it is a sad day for the BAFTAs.