12 Film Studios’ Awards Prospects Entering the BAFTAs

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Photo Source: “Nocturnal Animals”: Merrick Morton/Focus Features, “Moonlight”: courtesy A24, “Manchester by the Sea”: courtesy Amazon Studios & Roadside Attractions

Awards season campaigns are an alchemical combination of politics, word of mouth, and sheer luck, and there’s often no telling where the chips may fall. We’re breaking down which major distributors have which horses in which races.

We are now just two weeks shy of the Academy Awards, where the year’s best filmmakers and their projects will accept Hollywood’s highest honors. But a few end-of-season ceremonies come first, namely the 70th British Academy Film Awards—commonly known as the BAFTAs.

Rewarding excellence in both British and American films, the BAFTA Awards are voted upon by many of the same entertainment industry veterans as the Academy Awards. This year’s nominations, which gave “La La Land” (Lionsgate) top recognition with 11 nods, followed by “Arrival” (Paramount Pictures) and “Nocturnal Animals” (Focus Features) with nine apiece, provide telling clues for the remainder of the awards race. Now that the Screen Actors Guild Awards have concluded, the Feb. 12 BAFTAs become a last chance to build momentum, and the last predictor of which films and actors may grasp Oscar gold.

Read on for a breakdown of where the buzziest projects stand in a thrillingly competitive year for moviemaking.

READ: Are Indie Films the Future of Awards Season?

20th Century Fox
What an unexpected (and delightful) turn the Jan. 29 SAG Awards took when they gave the evening’s final prize to the cast of “Hidden Figures”! Stars Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, and the Oscar-nominated Octavia Spencer took to the stage to praise the NASA mathematicians who inspired the film. Although the BAFTAs only recognized Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder for their adapted screenplay, Fox has undeniable momentum: “Hidden Figures” has become the highest-grossing film of this year’s Oscar nominees for best picture.

With four nominations, this indie distributor’s awards-garnering hit “Moonlight” may not make a big dent at the BAFTA Awards. But considering its impressive haul at the Gotham Awards and Oscar nominations, Barry Jenkins’ coming-of-age drama is not to be ignored in the final stretch of the awards race. Could beloved British actor Naomie Harris win the BAFTA statue for supporting actress?

Anya Taylor-Joy of horror hit “The Witch” is also one of five nominees for the EE Rising Star Award, an accolade voted upon by the public. “20th Century Women” and “The Lobster” did not receive recognition across the pond, but with both scoring nominations in the prestigious best original screenplay Oscar category, it’s all in all another impressive season for A24.

Amazon Studios
Partnered with cinematic distributor Roadside Attractions, Amazon has found itself a solid foothold this awards season with Kenneth Lonergan’s family drama “Manchester by the Sea.” However, an impressive six BAFTA nominations (including supporter Lucas Hedges with a Rising Star nomination) signal the film’s last chance to gain momentum going into the Academy Awards. Casey Affleck, the Golden Globe and National Board of Review winner for leading actor, was surprisingly toppled by Denzel Washington in the SAG Award race. Certainly at the BAFTAs, where Washington failed to secure a nomination, Affleck is considered a front-runner. But at the Oscars...who knows?

Bleecker Street
This company capitalized on word of mouth and a smart campaign to push Matt Ross’ “Captain Fantastic” into the conversation, earning leading actor Viggo Mortensen nominations at the BAFTA, Academy, and SAG Awards.

Focus Features
The BAFTAs were kind to Tom Ford’s thriller “Nocturnal Animals,” which has leading actor Jake Gyllenhaal and supporter Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the Golden Globe winner, in the race. The Oscars, however, went a different route altogether: Michael Shannon is the film’s only acting nominee.

Also in play for Focus Features is “Kubo and the Two Strings,” a BAFTA and Oscar nominee for animated film, and “Loving,” which scored a hard-won Oscar nod for leading actress Ruth Negga.

Fox Searchlight Pictures
The sister company of 20th Century Fox has only one horse in this year’s Oscar race: Pablo Larraín’s biopic “Jackie,” which has earned three nods with both the Academy and BAFTA. Could Natalie Portman beat her formidable opponents in the leading actress category? At the Golden Globes she lost to Isabelle Huppert, who despite Academy recognition is notably absent from the BAFTA list.

Summit Entertainment, owned by Lionsgate, is sitting pretty thanks to “La La Land,” which earned a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations. The Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling movie musical and love letter to Hollywood is expected to play very well with awards voters on both sides of the pond, particularly after its record-breaking seven Golden Globe Awards plus a slew of others.

Along with CBS Films, Lionsgate is also faring well with “Hell or High Water,” which was given four Oscar and three BAFTA nods, including supporting actor Jeff Bridges. “Hacksaw Ridge” has also proved a winner, with six Oscar and five BAFTA nods, including British-trained favorite Andrew Garfield for leading actor. This year Lionsgate constitutes a third of the contenders for the best picture Oscar.

Despite a spotty (read: nonexistent) record with the Academy, streaming giant Netflix does have a horse in this year’s awards race: Ava DuVernay’s prison documentary “The 13th,” which could earn the prize at both major upcoming ceremonies. Expect more attention from voters next year, particularly after their many acquisitions at the Sundance Film Festival.

Paramount Pictures
While Washington’s leading actor win for “Fences,” the August Wilson film adaptation he directed, was considered unexpected at the SAG Awards, supporting actress Viola Davis raised no eyebrows when she won yet again for her stunning performance. She is, however, the film’s only BAFTA nominee, which could mean she’s vulnerable—perhaps to British breakout Hayley Squires for “I, Daniel Blake,” a film that earned nods for both best film and best British film.

The studio’s other critical hit, “Arrival,” gained momentum with a whopping eight Oscar nods, plus the nine entering the BAFTAs. The latter awards recognized Amy Adams, widely perceived as a snub when it came to the Oscars’ list. One of her competitors, in fact, is one of the three leading actresses to earn nominations on both sides of the Atlantic: Meryl Streep for Paramount’s “Florence Foster Jenkins.”

Sony Pictures Classics
French hit “Elle” and its Golden Globe-winning lead Huppert got nothing from BAFTA, but are no doubt pleased with their Oscar nod for leading actress. Also getting awards season attention is fantasy film “The Red Turtle,” nominated for the animated Oscar.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Other than some recognition for visual effects (with “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Dr. Strange,” and “The Jungle Book”) Disney dominated where they usually do: in animated film. Both “Zootopia” and “Moana,” monster hits at the box office, will duke it out for the Oscar and BAFTA for animated film. (In the U.K., the former film goes by the name “Zootropolis”!)

The Weinstein Company
Despite campaigns for a few other films that failed to gain traction, the Weinstein Company has a hit on their hands with Garth Davis’ “Lion,” which earned five BAFTA and six Oscar nods. Supporting actors Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman have showed up on almost every awards shortlist there is, and the film is a best picture Oscar contender with international appeal. It may not be done roaring.

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