BAFTA Nominations: ‘Nomadland’ and ‘Rocks’ Lead Diverse List

BAFTA Nominations: ‘Nomadland’ and ‘Rocks’ Lead Diverse List

BAFTA Nominations: ‘Nomadland’ and ‘Rocks’ Lead Diverse List

BAFTA Nominations: ‘Nomadland’ and ‘Rocks’ Lead Diverse List

LONDON — “Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao’s drama about a middle-aged woman who travels across the United States in a van seeking itinerant work, scored the biggest number of high-profile nominations for this year’s EE British Academy Film Awards, Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars.

On Tuesday, the film, which stars Frances McDormand and won the Golden Globe for best drama in February, picked up seven nominations for the awards, commonly known as the BAFTAs.

It will compete for best film against “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “Promising Young Woman,” “The Father” and “The Mauritanian.”

The best-film nominees are almost the same as the titles that competed for best drama at this year’s Golden Globes. (Only “Mank,” David Fincher’s revisiting of “Citizen Kane,” is missing, replaced by “The Mauritanian.”) But in the talent categories for this year’s BAFTAs, the nominees are more diverse than the Golden Globe lists. Many come from low-budget, independent films, such as “Rocks,” a British coming-of-age tale about a Black teenager in London, that also received seven nominations.

This appears to be the result of a recent overhaul of BAFTA’s voting rules to increase the diversity of the nominees after recent criticism. Last year, no people of color were nominated in the BAFTAs’ main acting categories, and no women were nominated for best director. Those omissions prompted a social media furor and criticism from the stage at the award ceremony. “I think that we sent a very clear message to people of color that you’re not welcome here,” Joaquin Phoenix said when accepting the best-actor award for his performance in “Joker.”

BAFTA required all of its 6,700 voting members to undergo unconscious bias training before voting on this year’s nominees, as well as requiring them to watch a selection of 15 films to stretch the range of titles viewed. Among dozens of other changes to the voting procedures to increase the diversity of the nominees, they were selected for the first time from “longlists” prepared by BAFTA, with the input of specialist juries.

In contrast to the male-skewed nominee lists of previous years, four of the best-director nominees announced on Tuesday are women; four of the six nominees in both leading actor categories are people of color.

In the best-director category, for example, Chloé Zhao has been nominated for “Nomadland” and will compete against Lee Isaac Chung for “Minari”; Sarah Gavron for “Rocks”; Shannon Murphy for “Babyteeth”; Jasmila Zbanic for “Quo Vadis, Aida?” a retelling of a massacre in the Bosnian War of the 1990s; and Thomas Vinterberg for “Another Round,” a dark comedy about Danish attitudes to alcohol.

In the best-actress category, Frances McDormand, the star of “Nomadland,” will compete against Radha Blank for her role in “The Forty-Year-Old Version,” Wunmi Mosaku for the horror film “His House,” and Bukky Bakray, the teenage star of “Rocks.” That list includes fewer recognizable star names than previous years: Rosamund Pike and Andra Day, who won the main actress awards at this year’s Golden Globes, are missing.

Pippa Harris, BAFTA’s deputy chair, said in a video interview that the most important change that shaped this year’s nominations was the requirement that voters watch more films than usual, rather than letting them simply see those with the most buzz from other for awards or marketing campaigns. “Time and again, people have emailed in, written in, phoned in to say that made a massive difference, and they watched films they would never have come to normally, and found work they absolutely loved,” she said.

Movie awards are generally dominated by five or six highly touted films, said Marc Samuelson, the chair of BAFTA’s film committee, in the same interview. “If we’re disrupting that a bit, it’s a good thing,” he added.

Some 258 films were nominated for this year’s awards, and they were watched over 150,000 times on a viewing portal created specifically for voters, he said.

This year’s winners will be announced on April 11 at a ceremony in London. Samuelson would not explain how the event will be held, but he said it would conform with Britain’s coronavirus rules. Indoor events are not allowed in England until May 17 at the earliest.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is scheduled next Monday to announce nominations for this year’s Oscars.


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