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Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 02-14-11


 
BAFTA best actor winner Colin Firth and wife Livia Giuggioli attend the Soho House Grey Goose After Party at Grovesnor House Hotel in London. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka)

BAFTA best actor winner Colin Firth and wife Livia Giuggioli attend the Soho House Grey Goose After Party at Grovesnor House Hotel in London. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka)

“The Kings Speech” director Tom Hooper with “The Social Network” executive producer Kevin Spacey at the Soho House Grey Goose After Party at Grovesnor House Hotel in London. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka)

“The Kings Speech” director Tom Hooper with “The Social Network” executive producer Kevin Spacey at the Soho House Grey Goose After Party at Grovesnor House Hotel in London. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka)

“Social Network” BAFTA winners screenwriter/executive producer Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher.

“Social Network” BAFTA winners screenwriter/executive producer Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher.

BAFTA’s best: It’s a good thing the BAFTA’s are an elegant, amusing, civilized and entertaining show to watch — since there really wasn’t any need to watch it to find out who won.

If you were anticipating anything other than a best picture win by “The King’s Speech” you need to take remedial classes in Hollywood handicapping. There simply wasn’t anything else that was going to happen Sunday night at London’s Royal Opera House.

What were BAFTA voters going to do other than applaud the film that’s singlehandedly managed to put this year’s Oscar spotlight directly on how great British filmmaking can be?

When the time came to mark their ballots, the BAFTA bunch celebrated “King’s” across the board. Well, that is, with one notable and unfortunate exception. In voting its Best Director award to David Fincher for “The Social Network,” BAFTA fell into the let’s-try-to-spread-it-around pitfall.

Clearly, if “King’s” is so good that it’s taking take home the BAFTA for best picture, best British film, best actor (Colin Firth), best supporting actor (Geoffrey Rush), best supporting actress (Helena Bonham Carter), best original screenplay (David Seidler) and best original music (Alexandre Desplat), its director (Tom Hooper) must have had a little something to do with all that!

I happen to have liked “Social” very much, by the way, so I’m not suggesting that Fincher didn’t do an awards worthy job in directing it. It’s just that it’s hard to justify a BAFTA sweep for “King’s” that doesn’t include Hooper, who made all the trains run on time.

If BAFTA really thinks Fincher did the best directing they should have bitten the bullet and found more to celebrate in “Social.” Instead, they applauded “King’s,” which was entirely deserved, and threw in a little something for “Social” via Fincher.

In the screenplay categories, of course, there was no competition between “King”s’ and “Social” so “King’s” could win for best original screenplay while “Social” could win for best original screenplay. That will be the case, as well, with the Oscars.

BAFTA voters also handed “Social” the best editing award (Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter). In that category there is good justification for the vote because “Social” jumps back and forth in time and film editing plays a key role in making all that work so well.

All the acting races played out exactly as one would expect them to play out in London. Firth was the perfect and predictable (after winning best actor in the SAG and the Golden Globe races) choice for best actor. With no lead actress in “King’s” to compete with, Natalie Portman was the default choice for “Black Swan” (having won in the SAG and Golden Globe best actress races).

As for the supporting races, anyone who thought “The Fighter’s” Melissa Leo (or, perhaps, Amy Adams) and Christian Bale would resonate with BAFTA members just wasn’t thinking. “The Fighter’s” a terrific movie, but it’s a quintessentially American film and just isn’t going to take BAFTA votes away from those perfectly poised performances by Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush.

On the other hand, Carter and Rush could wind up going home empty handed Oscar night because Leo and Bale may be more in line with what Academy voters are likely to like.

“King’s” certainly continues to be the solid front runner to win the best picture Oscar. The real question now is whether the Academy voters will split their ballots, as BAFTA members did, and give Fincher the best director Oscar?

If Academy members also hand “Social” the supporting actor and actress Oscars plus the best adapted screenplay Oscar and, perhaps, the best film editing Oscar, then an award to Fincher would not seem out of place the way it did from BAFTA.