In the first place, we know for example that Nine is not in contention for Best Film, Director or Leading Actor – Rob Marshall's musical is AWOL from those categories. So we know what's missing. And in the second, in most cases we have been given a massive clue regarding the likely five nominees for each award. The BAFTA nominations aren't announced for two weeks, but thanks to the release of the long list to Academy members, we now have a very good idea what they will be.
In the first place, we know for example that Nine is not in contention for Best Film, Director or Leading Actor – Rob Marshall's musical is AWOL from those categories. So we know what's missing. And in the second, in most cases we have been given a massive clue regarding the likely five nominees for each award.
This is because when BAFTA issues the long list, it places an asterisk next to five of the 15 names, denoting the favourite choices by the voters belonging to that chapter. So we know, for example, that among the 15 choices for Lead Actor, the actor Academy members favour Andy Serkis (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll), Colin Firth (A Single Man), George Clooney (Up In The Air), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) and Morgan Freeman (Invictus).
In last year's BAFTAs, the eventual nominees ended up matching all the long list's asterisked choices pretty exactly, one memorable exception being that Frost/Nixon's Michael Sheen made the top five in the initial round, but was dumped in favour of Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel when it came to selecting the actual nominees. In other words it's not all over for Jeff Bridges – much fancied by buzz-monitors for his role in Crazy Heart – just yet.
Amongst the Leading Actresses, the actor voters favour Abbie Cronish (Bright Star), Carey Mulligan (An Education), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia) and Saoirse Ronan (Lovely Bones). The support for Ronan is particularly noteworthy as Peter Jackson's picture is missing from the 15 choices for Best Film and Director. Streep is on the long list twice, but among actors at least she is preferred as chef Julia Child than the fictional heroine of It's Complicated.
Some of the best taste has been demonstrated by the director members of the Academy. Their top choices for Best Director are James Cameron (Avatar), Neill Blomkamp (District 9), Lone Scherfig (An Education), Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) and Jacques Audiard (A Prophet). Among those five, only An Education could fairly be called a typical middlebrow awards-bait picture. Avatar and District 9 are innovative sci-fi films, and The Hurt Locker and A Prophet are gritty genre flicks, set respectively in war-torn Iraq and a French prison. It sure makes a change from Atonement and Frost/Nixon.
If votes follow the preferences of the chapter members, the BAFTA nominees in other categories will be as follows:
Alfred Molina, An Education
Christian MacKay, Me And Orson Welles
Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Basterds
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Anne-Marie Duff, Nowhere Boy
Julianne Moore, A Single Man
Kristin Scott Thomas, Nowhere Boy
Rosamund Pike, An Education
Adapted Screenplay (two films evidently tied for fifth place)
In The Loop
Let The Right One In
Up In The Air
The Hurt Locker
A Serious Man