The 2017 BAFTA nominations worth celebrating

Ben Skipper
Contributor
Dave Jones and Hayley Squires in ‘I, Daniel Blake’, Eddie Redmayne in ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’ and Viggo Mortensen in ‘Captain Fantastic’. (Credit: Film4, Warner Bros, Bleecker Street)

This year’s BAFTA Film Award nomiantions have been announced and it’s packed with the big awards season contenders, including ‘Moonlight’, ‘Manchester By The Sea’ and, of course, the seemingly-unstoppable ‘La La Land’.

However, those films have been and will be at the center of a lot of discussion to come, so we wanted to highlight a few of the stories worth celebrating from this year’s nods; from individual nominations to entire fields contending for awards.

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‘I, Daniel Blake’ – Best Picture

BAFTA has always and will always, understandably, favour British films, so ‘I, Daniel Blake’ isn’t exactly a huge surprise. That said, what’s so great about its nomination in the night’s biggest category is seeing a film like it up for contention at all.

Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning, highly-politicised drama is a scolding depiction of the lives of this country’s most desperate, and the bureaucracy making their lives hell.

If there was to be a “token” British pick for this category that’s unlikely to trouble the Academy Awards across the Atlantic, ‘I, Daniel Blake’ is the obvious contender. We’re just glad it was obvious to BAFTA voters too.

The whole Outstanding British Film field

‘I, Daniel Blake’ won’t be favourite to win the big prize (don’t discount it completely though) but it will be the favourite to win a packed Oustanding British Film category.

In this category it sits stands alongside Andrea Arnold’s ‘American Honey’, historical drama ‘Denial’, the beautiful ‘Notes on Blindness’, foreign-language horror ‘Under The Shadow’ and blockbuster fantasy ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’.

It’s the variety that warrants celebration, in terms of genre, subject matter and mass appeal. This is the best of British cinema, and the films BAFTA have selected showcase the full breadth of what that can mean.

Viggo Mortensen – Best Actor

The ‘Lord of the Rings’ star’s nomination was unexpected, but good to see, not just because it celebrates an enormous talent, but a great performance in a film never likely to trouble other categories.

Too often the same films hoard most of the awards season nominations, causing the individual moments of brilliance in films that flew under the radar to often be forgotten. Mortensen’s performance as an idealistic father forced to face reality and his own selfishness, is worthy of a nod despite ‘Captain Fantastic’ not otherwise being an awards-contender.

Hayley Squires – Supporting Actress

Some will argue Hayley Squires should cruise to victory in this category, in which she competes against Naomie Harris and Oscar-winners Viola Davis, Michelle Williams and Nicole Kidman.

Her performance as struggling single mother Katie, who desperately tries to provide for her two young children and is forced to relocate, is heart-wrenching and unbelievably powerful.

The scene set in the food bank alone makes Squires worthy of a nomination.

The whole Best Animated Feature field

‘Moana’ joyously smashed Disney tropes, ‘Zootropolis’ shared an unexpectedly-powerful message, ‘Finding Dory’ tackled disability frankly and ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ was a visual delight unlike anything else it contends with here.

All four would be the worthy winners, and are the wonderful proof that 2016 may have been the best ever year for animation.

That many people would consider Pixar’s entry the least worthy winner of the four says it all. And ‘Finding Dory’ was great!

The BAFTA Film Awards take place on 12 February.