Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Saturday, 11 February 2012

BAFTA Preview: Best Director

The under-appreciated get a chance, but can they stop The Artist and Michel Hazanavicius?

The nominees for Best Director are a fine selection indeed. BAFTA has recognised the cinephile work of both Michel Hazanavicius in The Artist and Martin Scorsese for Hugo, as had everyone else, but they have also picked three of the very best and under-appreciated directors of last year. We have the Best Director from Cannes, Nicolas Winding-Refn for Drive, the meticulous Swede Tomas Alfredson for the masterful Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Lynne Ramsay for We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Anyone of these would be very worthy winners, and the competition is very close to call. BAFTA does not pick its Best Director winners lightly. They often go for exceptional filmmakers whose work is not getting rewarded widely. In recent years, Paul Greengrass won for United 93, Peter Weir won for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, and Mike Leigh won for Vera Drake.

Personally, I would give the award to either Lynne Ramsay or Tomas Alfredson. Ramsay’s film has been widely overlooked, and it is a difficult film to watch. I do not think it is a perfect film, but it is fiercely inventive in it is direction, using colour and music brilliantly to generate a tense and uneasy atmosphere, as well as deftly managing a non-linear storyline. For this, Ramsay deserves recognition.

However, I don’t think that Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy puts a foot wrong. The film is assembled with meticulous detail and has some absolutely thrilling moments within it. If I had a ballot in front of me, I would be voting for Tinker Tailor as Best Film and Lynne Ramsay for Best Director, in an attempt to spread the honours, but either would be worthy winners.

Ramsay, however, is a longshot for the award, as is Nicolas Winding-Refn, whose Drive is an adrenaline-fuelled, stylish, action thriller, with two of the finest car chase sequences you could ever wish to see. Drive has been more popular here than it seems to have been in America, but it would be a big surprise of Winding-Refn could pull off a win in this category.

The two nominees who also have Oscar nominations for Best Director are, of course, in with a very good shout of taking the BAFTA mask home on Sunday night. For Scorsese, it would be a double as he is to be given the BAFTA Fellowship on Sunday anyway. However, I think he is unlikely to take the Best Director gong as well. Hugo, despite having collected many nominations, appears to have a little bit of enthusiasm problem. People like it, but they also like other things better.

The favourite for Sunday night has to be Michel Hazanavicius, the director of The Artist, which has so far swept almost all before it. It will certainly take home one of either Best Film or Best Director, and is quite likely to take home both. If BAFTA decide to split the awards, I think Tomas Alfredson will win, but you’d be a brave man to bet against Hazanavicius.

The BAFTA Film Awards are held tomorrow and will be broadcast on BBC One at 9pm.

Tomorrow's final preview will be for Best Film.

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