Oscars 2021: BFCA Nominations

Okay, so we had the Globes nominations before, now it’s BFCA. This is the Critics Choice, so while you’ll still see a lot of the same stuff, you’ll definitely start to see which of the nominees are ones the Globes only picked because they wanted the stars to be there. The critics are usually unified on what they’ve decided is ‘good’ and ‘not good’. But they also control those narratives, so you’ll also see a couple of performances they’ve championed in smaller films make it on, which will make it on nowhere else. That’s how this goes.

But, overall, BFCA is usually a good barometer of where the discussion is going, so it’s gonna help solidify a lot of the stuff you’ve seen already while also adding in some of the stuff the Globes ignored as we look forward to the remaining major trickle-down precursors (BAFTA, SAG, PGA).

So let’s see what BFCA has brought us this year:

Best Picture

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

Dune

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

Tick, Tick…Boom!

West Side Story

This sure looks just like the NBR and AFI lists, doesn’t it? This might be the complete combination of both of those lists. Don’t Look Up, Dune, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley and West Side Story made both. CODA was NBR Independent but made AFI. Belfast made NBR only and Tick Tick Boom and Power of the Dog made AFI only. All of these except Nightmare Alley had solid showings at the Globe nominations. So wow. That really points to a very uniform set of choices this year. I really wanna see where BAFTA and PGA go, but I imagine this is looking a lot like where things are headed up at the top. Let’s see what else they’ve got for us.

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Okay, six nominees. Not insane, but also a nice smattering of people. Branagh, Campion, Spielberg and Villeneuve all carry over from the Globes list. Gyllenhaal being excluded fits with what I’d expect to have seen all along. Guillermo and Nightmare Alley come back in strong (especially since I imagine there will be some acting nominations forthcoming for it) and Paul Thomas Anderson gets a nomination. Not sure where this goes in the end, but it’s hard to see Campion, Branagh and Spielberg not factoring in heavily all the way through. Also real curious to see what happens with Denis. Was NOT expecting this type of support for Dune. BAFTA and DGA will tell the tale on that one (and most of these, honestly).

Best Actor

Nicolas Cage, Pig

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick…Boom!

Will Smith, King Richard

Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Wow. Only six nominees. Usually they go to like, eight or something. But yeah, this is starting to help things take shape for me.

First off — Cage is exactly the kind of performance I’d expect from BFCA. And I also expect him to get shortlisted at BAFTA so as to make people think it could happen (but it won’t, as much as I’d be thrilled to see it). Cumberbatch, Garfield, Smith and Denzel all seem to have the inside track here for the final category, which should leave that final spot open for whoever. Dinklage is an interesting inclusion and I want to see both the film and how the other precursors treat that performance.

Otherwise, no Ali, no Bardem. No Bradley Cooper, even. He felt like an easy #7 or #8 for this list. The other Globes people I wasn’t expecting. And honestly, any one of those people still could factor in, but for now this tells me to temper any expectations the Globes have given until I see things be backed up by other places. So yeah, seems like we’ve got 4/5 pretty solidly figured and one last spot to truly think about as we go forward.

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Oh, now that’s interesting. Chastain made it on here too. That bodes well for the moment. Colman and Stewart felt like locks, Gaga was always gonna factor in here. The question is whether SAG goes there (and let’s be honest, they probably will, given the size) and more importantly, if BAFTA goes there. That’ll tell us the tale. Haim is an awesome inclusion but I can’t see the gatekeepers actually voting for her, so let’s let her get nominated elsewhere before I assume that’s gonna happen. And Kidman feels like an easy inclusion based on the role and her stature, kind of like how Charlize got on for Bombshell two years ago. But the entire Globes Drama list got on here, plus Alana Haim. No Rachel Zegler, but I’m not fully surprised about that. She’ll need the actual voters to go for her to make a real case there. SAG seems totally possible and BAFTA is still very much a mystery, so we’ll see. Otherwise, the way things are looking, this feels like it could very much come down to Colman vs. Stewart in the end. Let’s let things play out, but just picking my head up for a second, that feels like the way the winds are blowing today.

Best Supporting Actor

Jamie Dornan, Belfast

Ciarán Hinds, Belfast

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Jared Leto, House of Gucci

J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Hell yeah, J.K. Simmons. Haven’t seen the movie or the performance, but I love J.K. Simmons, so I’m happy to see him here. But there’s almost the entire Globes list again, minus Affleck (who definitely seems like a star power inclusion more than anything now, doesn’t he?). Dornan, Hinds, Kotsur and Smit-McPhee. There’s Leto getting on (which feels like an easy BFCA inclusion. We’ll need to see about SAG and BAFTA before we go nuts on his chances) too. I’m not gonna read too much into this, since the supporting categories especially often get skewed by the Globes and BFCA coming out first and there are always some people that make everyone go, “They’re gonna get nominated,” and I have to be like, “Cool it, that’s not gonna happen.” Remember J-Lo in Hustlers? Or even Jared Leto LAST YEAR in The Little Things. I’m not reading too much into any of this yet. But Hinds, Kotsur, Dornan and Smit-McPhee all jump to the head of the pack for now. That’s the takeaway here.

Best Supporting Actress

Caitríona Balfe, Belfast

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Ann Dowd, Mass

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Rita Moreno, West Side Story

Ann Dowd in Mass. Interesting. I mean, no one will have seen that movie or vote for her, but this is the group that nominated her for Compliance, so I totally get that and I respect the effort for going outside the box and trying to get everyone else to open up one of their box flaps for a minute.

The Rita Moreno nomination is totally them and is just them respecting a legend. They do that all the time and it probably won’t mean too much in the end past a nice gesture. Completely fine with it either way.

Ellis, Dunst, Balfe and DeBose all carry over from the Globes, so they take pole position for the moment. No Ruth Negga, which is a shame, but she’s got time to make that ground back up. Real curious to see how this one shapes up going forward.

Best Acting Ensemble

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

The Harder They Fall

Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

All of these completely make sense so I will use this time to shout out The Harder They Fall, because it truly does have a bunch of standout performances in it.

Best Young Actor/Actress

Jude Hill, Belfast

Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza

Emilia Jones, CODA

Woody Norman, C’mon C’mon

Saniyya Sidney, King Richard

Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

There were a lot of amazing young actor performances this year and this list is honestly as good as the actual acting categories are. I’d have nominated all of these people (I still need to see Zegler, though). I assume this is why none of these people made the other lists, though I like to imagine they made it so that if they did, they got removed from this one and just showed up there. Honestly, whatever. It’s something. But all of these performances were terrific and they really have their hands full with this one. I’d have a six-way tie if I were them. Just award all of them. They’re all worthy.

Best Original Screenplay

Being the Ricardos

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

This all tracks. Anderson, Sorkin, Branagh, McKay and King Richard for good measure. No Wes Anderson, which tells me French Dispatch is coming in light this year.

Best Adapted Screenplay

CODA

Dune

The Lost Daughter

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

So what did they leave out? Tick Tick Boom, which, okay. Nightmare Alley, which, sure. Otherwise, they hit all their beats. No notes.

I mean, I’m sure I’ll have alternatives once I shore up my own favorites list, but based on how they’ve been voting, it’s hard to get upset at any of these screenplay categories.

Best Editing

Belfast

Dune

Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Editing is almost always tied to Picture, so mostly I was looking to see which they chose and whether or not anything surprising would pop in. The answer is no. Happy to see Licorice Pizza here, and Dune I suspect is more about its genre than how much they love it for Picture, but a list that makes sense to me. Editing is a very data-based category since it’s always tied to precursors and the Picture list. I don’t think there’s really anything outside the major contenders that gets on here, a la a Baby Driver or I Tonya.

Best Cinematography

Belfast

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

Dope ass category. The Nightmare Alley inclusion is the most interesting one for me. Makes sense, since Dan Lautsen is great and got nominated for Shape of Water, but it’s not something I’d have immediately assumed would make it, especially with two black and white options and West Side Story on the table. Power of the Dog is also an interesting inclusion. Love seeing westerns on here. And Dune also makes total sense. ASC and BAFTA will tell the tale here, but we’re certainly off to a really solid start.

Best Original Score

Don’t Look Up

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

Spencer

We’ll need to wait for the shortlist, but… two Jonny Greenwood nominations. That’s cool. Nicholas Britell gets on, which is great, since the Academy has been overlooking his great work the past five years. Nathan Johnson gets on, which is great. Knives Out should have made it, so it’s nice to see him in contention with Guillermo. And Dune is Zimmer and I fully expect him to be nominated and not win like usual. So yeah. We’re here. Still gotta wait for a shortlist, though.

Best Song

“Be Alive,” from King Richard

“Dos Oruguitas,” from Encanto

“Guns Go Bang,” from The Harder They Fall

“Just Look Up,” from Just Look Up

“No Time to Die,” from No Time to Die

So the only precursor help we get in this category outside of a shortlist is from here and the Globes. And they’ve agreed on 3/5 songs, which means we should probably assume “Be Alive,” “Dos Oruguitas” and “No Time to Die” have the inside track (though I’m always questionable about Beyoncé, just because I don’t actually know if they’ll go there. But we’ll see). “Guns Go Bang” is Jay-Z and “Just Look Up” I believe is Ariana Grande, so I don’t know if either of those mean anything to the Music branch. Honestly let’s just wait for the shortlist, since I don’t even know if we’ll get the full longlist this year to work off of beforehand.

Best Production Design

Belfast

Dune

The French Dispatch

Nightmare Alley

West Side Story

All great choices, and while I still need to see two of these, I’ll be honest — it’ll be a travesty if French Dispatch doesn’t win. Maybe I’ll switch my allegiance after Nightmare Alley or West Side Story, but what they did in French Dispatch to get most of those shots is incredible. Either way, amazing choices, and I’m sure there are even more good ones to be had. So we’re in a great place here.

Best Costume Design

Cruella

Dune

House of Gucci

Nightmare Alley

West Side Story

These all totally track. There are at least four I could think of that also fit here, but there’s nothing egregious here. We need the guild and other precursors to make sense of this category anyway, but for now, all solid choices.

Best Hair and Makeup

Cruella

Dune

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

House of Gucci

Nightmare Alley

These all track, but we’ll get a shortlist and a bunch of help for this category, so I’m not sweating it for now.

Best Visual Effects

Dune

The Matrix Resurrections

Nightmare Alley

No Time to Die

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Cool. We’ll get a shortlist and way better precursor help than this, but they’re all good choices on paper. I assume in the end maybe only two of these actually get nominated, but we’ll see. It’s early.

Best Animated Feature

Encanto

Flee

Luca

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Raya and the Last Dragon

There’s Flee again, and there’s the Mitchells making their first appearance. My Sunny Maad is left out, so I’ll have to look to the Annies and BAFTA to see if that’s got a shot. Otherwise, all in line with what I’d expect, and unless Vivo or Ron’s Gone Wrong make a showing somewhere else, I have to imagine this is likely your category unless they decide to leave out one of the Disney entries. We’ll see.

Best Foreign Language Film

Drive My Car

Flee

A Hero

The Hand of God

The Worst Person in the World

All of these are eligible for the Oscar, so that’s a good start. Flee is eligible in three separate categories, so we’ll need to wait for shortlists on that one. And for this category in general. The Worst Person in the World is a new entry and I’ve heard great things about it, but it feels like it’s probably more of a BFCA kind of entry than an Oscar nominee, but we’ll see how things shape up. This category is always fucky in some way.

Best Comedy

Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar

Don’t Look Up

Free Guy

The French Dispatch

Licorice Pizza

Having this category devalues Best Picture and allows them the cop out of not voting for some stuff there knowing they’re gonna put it here. That’s it. That’s all I have. This category means nothing to me because they treat it as a lesser to everything else.

– – – – – – – – – –

And oh hey, guess what? The TV awards are a separate show now, so I don’t have to bother with those nominees! And I could not be more thrilled, considering how many padded categories they have for TV and how blatant their checklist is for including a network show, a basic cable show and one show from a streaming service that isn’t one of the major ones with all the good shit. It’s the same blatant stuff, every time. So I’m glad I get to skip all of that and focus only on what matters.

But yeah. That’s BFCA. We’ll get Independent Spirit Awards nominations tomorrow, which won’t wholly affect the Oscar races, but are at least interesting things to talk about. The next major date we’re gonna get is next Tuesday, when all the Oscar shortlists come out. THAT’S when shit gets interesting.

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One response

  1. Adam Stockhausen (production designer) and Rena DeAngelo (set decorator) were responsible for both The French Dispatch and West Side Story in 2021. It’d be an absolute crime for them to not win at all, especially if their two efforts split votes.

    December 13, 2021 at 5:15 pm

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