Joker in the awards race

Dark drama leads Baftas with 11 nominations

LONDON • Joker, the acclaimed film that tells the backstory of the comic-book villain, received 11 nominations on Tuesday for the EE British Academy Film Awards - Britain's equivalent of the Oscars - the most of any film.

One of those was in the Best Film category of the awards, commonly known as the Baftas, where it will compete against Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood, Bong Joon-ho's Parasite and Sam Mendes' 1917, a World War I epic that won Best Drama at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday.

The directors of all those movies will also compete for the Best Director prize.

As in the United States, Joker received rave reviews in Britain when it was released, but it also received criticism for its depiction of mental illness and violence.

Joaquin Phoenix, who played the title role in Joker, has been nominated for the Best Actor award, a prize he also won at the Golden Globes on Sunday and is the favourite to take at the Oscars.

Phoenix will compete against Taron Egerton, whose performance as singer Elton John in Rocketman earned him the Best Actor in a Comedy award at the Golden Globes. He is also up against Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood, Adam Driver for Marriage Story and Jonathan Pryce for The Two Popes.

Renee Zellweger leads the nominations for the Best Actress category for her role in Judy and will compete against Jessie Buckley for Wild Rose, Scarlett Johansson for Marriage Story, Saoirse Ronan for Little Women and Charlize Theron for Bombshell.

The best acting awards were immediately criticised on social media for their lack of racial diversity.

"Baftas so white," wrote one Twitter user, echoing the hashtag and campaign that followed an all-white list of lead-and supporting-actor nominations for the 2015 Oscars.

Twitter users also criticised the list of nominations for Best Director, which did not feature any women.

"I'm disappointed," Ms Amanda Berry, Bafta's chief executive officer, told BBC radio on Tuesday when asked about the nominations' lack of diversity. She had "hoped we'd see at least one female director", she added.

The academy would be resurrecting a scheme to support female directors, she added.

The awards are often seen as a bellwether for the Academy Awards because there is overlap between the 6,500 voting members of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, which organises the Baftas, and the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who vote for the Oscars.

This year's prize ceremony will take place on Feb 2 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. It will be hosted by Graham Norton, an Irish television star.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2020, with the headline 'Dark drama leads Baftas with 11 nominations'. Subscribe