hmv.com previews... BAFTAs 2017
Now in its 70th year, the British Academy of Film and Television Awards – better known to most of course as the BAFTAs – has been the UK's equivalent to the Oscars for a full seven decades now and remains one of the most important dates in the British film industry's calendar. Stephen Fry will return for his 12th stint as host for this year's ceremony, due to take place this Sunday (February 12th), but what else can we expect this time around?
With just a couple of days to go until we find out who will be this year's winners and losers, we took a look at the line-ups for this year's awards ceremony and picked out five things to watch out for...
La La Land is likely to scoop up plenty of awards
Leading the pack with 11 nominations and coming off the back of a sweep at the Golden Globes, La La Land is rightly the favourite for Best Picture, with even the best odds coming in at a positively unbackable 2/9. But the film also looks very likely to pick up the Best Director award for Damian Chazelle, and with nominations in the Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing and Original Music categories, you can probably expect the film to pick up some others too.
Casey Affleck looks set to continue his hot streak
The younger Affleck sibling is in the midst of a winning run for his performance in Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester By The Sea, having already picked up the Best Actor award at the Golden Globes and several others, including one from the New York Critics Circle, where he brilliantly roasted host David Edelstein during his acceptance speech by reading out a list of quotes from all the bad reviews Edelstein had given him over the years.
Affleck is definitely the hot favourite this year, also earning himself a nomination at the Oscars for his role in Lonnergan's film, and while we can't entirely rule out an upset from contenders Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Jake Gyllenhall (Nocturnal Animals), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) or Ryan Gosling (La La Land), we'd be very surprised if Affleck leaves empty-handed.
Ken Loach might just win his first proper BAFTA
As the director behind a series of critically-acclaimed feature films like Kes and The Wind that Shakes the Barley, as well as documentaries such as Sprit of '45, Ken Loach needs little introduction on these shores, but while the director has previously been handed awards for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema (in 1994) and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 for his work in British television, the veteran director has yet to win in one of the main categories at the BAFTAs, despite several nominations over the years.
However, that could change this year thanks to his work on I, Daniel Blake, a scathing indictment of the unfairness and stigma in the British welfare system that has seen him become the favourite to take home the award for Outstanding British Film this year. He does face some impressive competition, particularly from Andrea Arnold's American Honey and Peter Middleton's Notes on Blindness, not to mention the J.K. Rowling-penned Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but Loach, now in his eighties, would be a worthy winner for his latest film and it's hard to imagine that anyone would begrudge him a victory this year.
The 'Best Actress' category could be one of the most hotly contested in years
Meryl Streep has already earned her 15th nomination at the BAFTAs this year for her role in Florence Foster Jenkins, equalling the record previously held by Dame Judi Dench. In most years, that would be enough for the other nominated actresses to write off their own chances, but this year the bookies have Streep as the longest shot, and not without good reason. Natalie Portman is currently the favourite with most bookmakers and it would be a difficult one to argue with given her outstanding performance in Pablo Larraín's Jackie, which sees her tackle the role of President John F. Kennedy's former wife in the days and weeks after her husband's assassination.
However, both of them are up against stiff competition. Emily Blunt delivered a very convincing depiction of an alcoholic in The Girl on the Train and Emma Stone's turn in La La Land is another award-worthy performance that has also earned her an Oscar nomination. Then there's Amy Adams, a surprise snub at the Oscars considering her brilliant but understated performance in Arrival. Adams has earned her nomination here, but it remains to be seen if the judges will go against the grain and hand her the award. If you put a gun to our heads, we'd go for Natalie Portman, but it's a very tough category to call this year.
This year's Rising Star award is one to watch
One of the most interesting categories at the BAFTAs each year is the Rising Star Award, which not only aims to highlight emerging acting talent, but is also the only award voted for by the public. Past winners have included James McAvoy, Tom Hardy, Kristen Stewart and John Boyega, and this year's crop of talent is as strong as it has ever been. The nominees for the 2017 award include Tom Holland - perhaps the highest-profile of the newcomers given that he'll be starring as the new Spider-Man this summer – and Ruth Negga, whose recent work includes an excellent performance in Jeff Nichols' brilliant (and utterly heartbreaking) film Loving.
Another of this year's contenders Anya Taylor-Joy, who has turned in some impressive performances in films like Robert Eggers' The Witch and M. Night Shyamalan's Split, alongside previous winner James McAvoy, while the other nominees include Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea, Moonrise Kingdom) and Laia Costa (Victoria, The Red Band Society). Holland is currently the favourite, but not by a huge margin and there isn't much to choose between this year's talented contenders, so this could be one to keep an eye on.