Five things we learnt from the 2022 BAFTAs
From host Rebel Wilson’s charming hosting skills to surprising wins (and snubs), here are the biggest takeaways from last night’s event
Monday 14 March 2022 By Thomas Barrie
1. Rebel Wilson can come back next year
Host Rebel Wilson was on marvellous form, treading the line between watchability and edginess. ‘I’ve done quite a transformation – I hope JK Rowling approves,’ she joked in her first BAFTAs hosting gig. It shouldn’t really be a surprise given that she has a history of great speeches on previous trips to the ceremony. In 2016, Wilson charmed the Royal Albert Hall when she read out a faux-nervy speech that revelled in double entendres about ‘diverse members’, while in 2020 she wondered aloud on stage whether she’d ‘win best original score at the afterparty tonight’. Nonetheless, judging the correct tone for the night can be fraught – recall Ricky Gervais throwing brutal verbal punches at the Golden Globes – and Wilson’s material was on point, funny and light, and memorable without overshadowing the awards themselves or their winners.
2. Science fiction remains overlooked
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune took the very first award of the night, winning Best Special Visual Effects, as well as four of the other 11 awards categories it was nominated in. But notably, it lost out on the final and most prestigious category, Best Film, to The Power Of The Dog, meaning that since BAFTA was established in 1947, a sci-fi movie has still never captured its biggest prize. Genre films are historically underrated at awards ceremonies; with No Time To Die, The Power Of The Dog and Dune all nominated – as spy, western and sci-fi films respectively – this was a good year for anyone who wants to see more of them in the mix, but the wait for a science fiction win continues.
3. ‘Best Actress’ saw a pleasantly surprising upset
The hype around Lady Gaga’s scene-stealing performance as femme fatale Patrizia Reggiani in House Of Gucci, as well as brilliant turns from Alana Haim, Emilia Jones, Renate Reinsve and Tessa Thompson, meant that many overlooked Joanna Scanlan’s Best Actress nomination. But, on the night, she beat them all for her role in After Love, in which she plays a British woman who discovers her husband has a secret family in France after his death. Scanlan was (obviously) chuffed and perhaps a little surprised, but as one of the UK’s best character actresses – even if you don’t know who she is by name, you will almost definitely recognise her from The Thick Of It or No Offence – it was a delight to see her recognised after three previous BAFTA nominations.
4. We should watch the Oscars® closely
BAFTA changed its voting system in 2021 to try to introduce more stylistic diversity among the films it nominated. An admirable idea, but some critics of the new system have argued that it has now made the results too predictable – in a nutshell, more unusual films receive nominations, but are then ignored by voters in the final round of voting. This also has the unintended effect of making the BAFTAs resemble the Oscars® more closely than ever: last year, in all but one of 19 equivalent categories at the two awards shows, the same films won both. A couple of notable upsets, like Joanna Scanlan winning Best Actress and, arguably, CODA’s Best Adapted Screenplay win (The Lost Daughter was probably the favourite), mean that there could be more of a divergence among the winners at the Oscars® later this month.
5. Ukraine is the elephant in the room
In time-honoured awards ceremony fashion, political statements and general well-wishing, in this instance towards Ukraine, featured in both red-carpet interviews and acceptance speeches. Sir Kenneth Branagh drew comparisons between Russia’s invasion of its neighbour and the Troubles as depicted in his film Belfast, telling Sky News that ‘the situations are utterly different but the human costs are the same’, while Benedict Cumberbatch, Andy Serkis and Stephen Graham all voiced support for refugees from the conflict. There was also a climate protest before the ceremony, which saw at least one protestor glue their hand to the metal barriers around the entrance to the Royal Albert Hall. The protestors wore T-shirts with ‘Just look up’ printed on them – a reference to Adam McKay’s nominated climate change satire, Don’t Look Up.