Screen’s analysis of the Bafta Film Awards longlists, which have been unveiled following the first round of voting.

The Trial Of The Chicago 7 Sound Of Metal Rocks Saint Maud c Netflix TIFF Altitude Studiocanal

Source: Netflix / TIFF / Altitude / Studiocanal

‘The Trial Of The Chicago 7’, ‘Sound Of Metal’, ‘Rocks’, ‘Saint Maud’

The final nominations will be announced on March 9, and the Bafta Film Awards will take place on April 11.

Racial diversity across the four acting categories
Nine of the 15 lead actors on the long list are men of colour. Not such a big mix in the other three categories but a giant leap forward from the 20 white nominees last year. Yes, these are just long lists, not nominations, but are likely to translate into a set of nominations showcasing racial diversity. Three places on each list were selected by a longlisting jury, and a Round Two jury will also decide on the final six nominees in each category before the overall membership selects the winner.

Surprise male exclusions on the best director longlist
Spike Lee, George C Wolfe, Shaka King, Darius Marder and Kornel Mundruczo did not make the longlist for Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Judas And The Black Messiah, Sound Of Metal and Pieces Of A Woman respectively. Instead, they were all longlisted across the two screenplay categories. Only two of the 10 men on the best director list are non-white.

Surprises too among the women on the best director list
Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed, co-directors of My Octopus Teacher, are a leftfield inclusion here. Given there are 10 other male directors and nine women directors, it is thanks to Ehrlich.

Jasmila Zbanic for Quo Vadis, Aida? has also made the longlist but the much fancied Eliza Hittman has been left off for Never Rarely Sometimes Always and her lead actress Sidney Flanagan is not on the best actress list either. Hittman’s screenplay is however long listed. Interestingly, Kitty Green’s The Assistant did better and has been longlisted in director, original screenplay and actress. And Shannon Murphy’s Babyteeth has been longlisted for director, screenplay and casting. 

Just three women-directed films on the best film longlist
Chloe Zhao for Nomadland, Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman and Regina King for One Night In Miami are the only three female directors on the 15-strong best film longlist. This is the one category with no chapter or juries. All voting members now vote to create the five nominations.

Bumper numbers for Netflix
Netflix features make up more than a quarter of the longlists, with 26 features and documentaries across the categories. These include the two titles with the most mentions: The Trial Of The Chicago 7 with 15 and Mank with 14. Netflix snapped up The Trial Of The Chicago 7 in a deal with producers Cross Creek after Paramount abandoned a theatrical release due to the pandemic.

Word-of-mouth has also proved beneficial for some of the streaming giant’s originals including Ramin Bahrani’s The White Tiger and documentary My Octopus Teacher. In a year of cinema closures, when audiences (and Bafta voters) turned to streaming platforms for new features, acquisitions such as Sarah Gavron’s Rocks and Nick Rowland’s Calm With Horses have enjoyed exposure on the platform since October.

Similarly, Netflix acquisition Radha Blank’s The Forty-Year Version has done well at this stage with Bafta voters, picking up three longlist mentions for best director, actress and screenplay and has been playing on the streamer for several months. Whereas  fellow Sundance 2020 premiere Miss Juneteenth did not seem to land with Bafta voters in the same way. 

Foreign language spills out
Denmark’s Another Round led the charge out of the foreign-language category, with Thomas Vinterberg’s dark comedy appearing in multiple longlists, including film, director, original screenplay and actor for Mads Mikkelsen. It was followed by Jasmila Zbanic’s gripping Quo Vadis, Aida?, with two mentions, and The White Tiger (mixing Hindi and English) also gaining some traction, including for actor Ardash Ghourav.

While Another Round would have been the title to tip here, Quo Vadis, Aida? left Venice without an award, somewhat inexplicably, and has had to fight its way through – it didn’t quite manage a mention for lead actress Jasna Durcic. And White Tiger was late onto the Bafta View portal: these three titles may well surge forward further in shortlists, proving this is the year of opportunity for global titles.

Two non-English-language titles also made the documentary longlist: Collective and The Truffle Hunters. Both had been expected to feature, and also made the foreign-language longlist along with two other docs, The Mole Agent and The Painter And The Thief.

Strong showing for UK indie films
Sarah Gavron’s Rocks, Rose Glass’s Saint Maud and Nick Rowland’s Calm With Horses have been longlisted across multiple categories with mentions too for His House and County Lines. And that’s not counting bigger UK films such as The Father, The Dig, The Mauritanian, Promising Young Woman, Ammonite and Supernova. Saint Maud likely benefited from a strong UK theatrical release in the autumn, while Rocks, His House and Calm With Horses have been streaming on Netflix in the UK since the autumn. 

Most longlisted titles
US titles appear on the most longlists, with Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial Of The Chicago 7 leading the way with 15 entries, followed by Mank (14), Promising Young Woman (13) and News Of The World (12). All four are in the race for best film. UK titles that feature on the most longlists are Saint Maud and The Mauritanian, which appear 11 times, equal with Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Minari is the non-English language title on the most longlists (nine), followed by The White Tiger (seven) and Another Round (six).