We Brits like to tell ourselves that when it comes to matters of art and culture we are still world leaders and world beaters. While the Empire is a dim and bloody memory with little regard in the modern world our position as a hotbed of cultural and artistic creativity is still acknowledged as a testimony to all that is good about these British Isles.
Enough of that, I was straying dangerously close to Daily Mail territory and none of us want that.
My point, and I do have one, is that if we want to continue to enjoy the image we have of ourselves as being a nation of creative eccentrics and loons then it is important that the British Oscars do not simply become a little brother, a pale immitation of the "real" thing. We should look, instead, to reward those things that we genuinely believe represent the best of the past year in film.
It's disappointing then to find "Avatar" in the list of films nominated for "best" of the year. I really don't get it. "Avatar" deserves to be showered with all manner of awards for it's technical and visual achievements but it can, in no way, be described as a candidate for the "best" picture award. I've already detailed the reasons for this in an earlier post so I won't go over it again, suffice to say I will be devastated if it wins the award.
The other films nominated include "An Education" which, as yet, I haven't seen, "The Hurt Locker", "Up in the Air" and "Precious". That, for me, is a disappointing and unadventurous list. None of them would be outstanding candidates for me...which might be why I'm writing this for you and other people are actually involved in nominating and judging these things.
A more interesting list is found in the "Outstanding British Film" category where "Fish Tank", "Moon", "In the Loop" and "Nowhere Boy" will battle it out with "An Education". I've seen all of those other than "An Education" and it would have to be a truly amazing film to beat my tip of "Moon" which was delivered from a first time director on a shoestring budget but which managed to be visually impressive, well scripted, superbly acted and incredibly atmospheric. My feeling is that "An Education" will win...it strikes me as the movie of choice for the luvvies of BAFTA.
In the best director category I'd like to see BAFTA reward someone who has actually directed a film and not simply dragged a mouse across a pad in a room filled with animators and geeks (hullo Mr Cameron and the Avatar crew) which means that I would want the award to go to Quentin Tarantino for "Inglorious Basterds" which, while far from his own best film, is still the best example of real direction on the list.
My favourite film of the last year was "Let the Right One in" (I know it wasn't originally released last year but that's when it was given a mainstream release) and I hope that it triumphs over Michael Hanneke and "The White Ribbon" which, despite what everyone else will tell you, was a lot of pretentious tosh that hid behind impressive performances and beautiful cinematography.
So now we wait and see what the BAFTA mob deliver...my suspicion is that it will be a good night for James Cameron and also for "An Education" which isn't the same thing as being a good night for film.