BAFTA nominations 2024: the frontrunners, surprises and key takeaways

The 2024 EE BAFTA nominations have been announced by actors Kingsley Ben-Adir (soon to be seen in Bob Marley: One Love) and Naomi Ackie. It's another strong showing for Oppenheimer with 13 nominations – scroll down to find out more.

Best Film

Poignant college-set comedy-drama The Holdovers (released on January 19th and expanding thereafter) is set to capitalise on its two Golden Globe wins. The acclaimed Alexander Payne-directed movie has landed a Best Film nod at the BAFTAs and this is the first of several BAFTA showings for Payne's intuitive and amusing latest.

On the other end of the scale, Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon has to be content with its prestigious Best Film nod, because there aren't a whole lot of other nominations in the offing (at least in the principal categories – it has picked up a bunch of technical ones). This would seem to relegate Scorsese's latest to the back of the pack. However, the veteran filmmaker is a longstanding Oscars favourite so the Oscar nominations could turn the tables again.

Shoo-in nominations went to both Oppenheimer and Poor Things, the latter of which has been nominated for 11 BAFTAs in total. Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan's eye-scorching atomic biopic, would appear to be the pack leader for Best Film at the BAFTAs given its earlier, seven-trophy run at the Golden Globes (if we use past awards ceremonies as a precedent, that is).

Enjoyably cracked black comedy Poor Things, meanwhile, is capitalising on unanimously strong reviews to lock in its Best Film nod. That said, it lost out at the Golden Globes to Oppenheimer, but there's still a chance that this category could become a two-horse race at both the BAFTAs and the Oscars.

Finally, the atmospheric and riveting Anatomy of a Fall has broken out as one of 2023's most significant foreign language hits. The largely French-language courtroom thriller can now proudly boast of a Best Film nomination, although it will likely yield to the awards blitzkrieg of its competition like Oppenheimer. Still, it's terrific to see the film in the category.



Best Director

First up, the surprises: no Margot Robbie for Barbie and no Martin Scorsese for Killers of the Flower Moon. Also, Past Lives helmer Celine Song has been shut out completely (the film only has three nominations overall), and there's nothing for Poor Things director Yorgos Lanthimos. Putting those disappointments/shocks aside, the Best Director category has compensated by putting forward some surprise choices that were overlooked at the Golden Globes.

Andrew Haigh is recognised for his characteristically sensitive handling of a queer relationship and inner torment in the moving All Of Us Strangers (released January 26th). Justine Triet is recognised for Anatomy of a Fall, making that movie an unexpectedly strong contender when one combines it with its Best Film nod. Right behind it is Alexander Payne whose Best Director nomination could also fuse with the recognition for Best Film to put The Holdovers over the top.

Even so, the bookies' favourite would appear to be Christopher Nolan who has enjoyed a breathtaking run of success with Oppenheimer. The movie achieved widespread acclaim and was further catapulted into the public consciousness, not to mention box office success, via last summer's 'Barbenheimer' phenomenon. Combine all that with Nolan's recent Golden Globes wins for Best Dramatic Film and Best Director, and he's surely the one to beat.

Bringing up the rear is the British filmmaker Jonathan Glazer who is renowned for traversing boundaries and genres with ease, from crime (Sexy Beast) to sci-fi (Under the Skin). Glazer has been recognised for his disquieting and eerie new drama The Zone of Interest (released February 2nd), which dispassionately places us inside the home of Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Höss to uniquely clammy effect.

Even if Glazer doesn't win (and the competition would appear to be stacked against him), it's heartening to note this is his first-ever BAFTA nomination for a feature film.



Best Actor

Once again, Killers of the Flower Moon loses out with no Leonardo DiCaprio nomination on display. However, the Best Actor category is the first of several to throw a bone to the pitch-black comedy Saltburn, which has likely put up a better BAFTA showing than many expected. This has come at the expense of All Of Us Strangers star Andrew Scott who walks away without a nomination.

Saltburn's lead actor Barry Keoghan has been recognised for his enjoyably insidious and deviant lead performance, although he may eventually yield to either The Holdovers' Paul Giamatti or Oppenheimer's Cillian Murphy. Both of those actors walked away with Golden Globes (in the Supporting Actor and Leading Actor categories, respectively), and this may point the way toward BAFTA success for one of them.

It's pleasing to see the recognition afforded to Teo Yoo for Past Lives. The actor's carefully observed and understated turn as a man pining for his childhood love, at first across the world and then achingly in person, drives much of the movie's humane impact. Will the sheer popularity of the movie make him the dark horse in this category? He hasn't won in the awards race so far but if awards voters enjoy anything, it's a curveball.



Best Supporting Actor

It's the battle of the Roberts in the Supporting Actor field. Robert De Niro marks a rare BAFTA showing for Killers of the Flower Moon, but he hasn't built up the same head of steam as Oppenheimer's Robert Downey Jr, who already has the Supporting Actor Golden Globe to his name.

Elsewhere, this emerges as one of the most surprising and diverse categories in this year's BAFTA race. Jacob Elordi notches up another surprise nod for Saltburn and Paul Mescal gets recognition for All Of Us Strangers, indicating yet more BAFTA love for movies largely ignored at the Golden Globes. Given the uniquely British focus of both movies, it's perhaps inevitable that these movies would play better with UK voters than American ones.

Dominic Sessa is another pleasant surprise for his turn as a gawky college student in The Holdovers, yet more evidence of the movie's strong BAFTA showing. However, the weight of expectation seems to fall on Barbie's Ryan Gosling, one of the rare nominations for a movie that has been largely overlooked at this year's BAFTAs.

The actor has become a one-man meme machine with his razor-sharp turn as the dim-witted Ken, propelled to pop-culture infamy via his performance of 'I'm Just Ken'. We're thinking that he's the one to beat in this category.



Best Actress

Making up for Barbie's slight showing elsewhere is Margot Robbie's nod for Best Actress in Barbie. Robbie's sunny and effervescent performance is the lynchpin of the entire movie and her BAFTA nod would appear to have been a shoo-in (the same could have been said of Greta Gerwig in the directing category, however, and look how that turned out).

The popular choice for the BAFTA Best Actress field is surely Emma Stone whose intensely transformative performance in Poor Things has been backed by a strong awards campaign. This has already yielded a well-spring of enthusiastic reviews and a Golden Globe win, which when combined with her existing awards clout for 2016's La La Land may well put her over the top. Crucially, Stone won't be competing with Lily Gladstone who's a controversial shutout for Killers of the Flower Moon.

Elsewhere, like the Supporting Actor category, this field is full of delightful surprises. Vivian Oparah is a welcome face, recognised for her quick-witted and memorable turn as a young woman on the rebound in Rye Lane. (Her co-star David Jonsson has been shut out of the BAFTAs, however). Also representing actresses of colour: Fantasia Barrino who has been nominated for her role in the upcoming musical The Color Purple (released January 26th).

Still, this could be Sandra Hüller's night. The German actress picks up one of two acting nominations at this year's BAFTAs for her compelling and inscrutable turn as a woman on trial in Anatomy of a Fall. Truthfully, if we're thinking in terms of an eventual BAFTA win Hüller's performance likely can't compete with the sheer weight that's been thrown behind Emma Stone.

However, given her track record of excellent performances and her especially good turn in Anatomy of a Fall, it's thrilling to simply see Hüller achieving a nomination.



Best Supporting Actress

Sticking with the Sandra Hüller show, the actress has also been recognised for her supporting turn in The Zone of Interest. Performers nominated in two different fields often stand poised to double their chances of an eventual win, so will Hüller's leading or supporting chops win over the BAFTA voters? 

Once again, this is an acting category that has thrown out some intriguing surprises. Rosamund Pike is recognised for her spot-on comic portrayal of an oblivious aristocratic matriarch in Saltburn, although in terms of setting a precedent, The Holdovers' Da'Vine Joy Randolph currently has the advantage: she won the Golden Globe in this very same field.

Elsewhere, Claire Foy stands out in the nominations for her portrayal of an emphatic mother from beyond the grave mysteriously locked in her 30s in All Of Us Strangers. Danielle Brooks has been nominated for The Color Purple, meaning that the film has a strong showing across the various Actress fields, and Emily Blunt also gets a nod for her role as the long-suffering Catherine Oppenheimer in Oppenheimer.



Best Original Screenplay

The BAFTA voters clearly loved Anatomy of a Fall. Writer/director Justine Triet has been recognised in the Best Original Screenplay category, a vindication of her attentive level of courtroom observation and procedural evidence. The movie rises on the strength of its screenplay, given that it's such a dialogue-heavy piece and largely reliant on one location, so this would appear to be a strong contender.

Even so, Triet faces strong competition from Celine Song and Past Lives. Song's screenplay has been hailed as a poetic examination of fate as it spans the globe and unpicks the invisible threads that may or may not tie it all together. Song's cultural observation as the film spans the globe from South Korea to the USA has been said to come from a place of genuine authority, but critics haven't found the movie to be didactic. Rather, it is enveloping, mysterious and highly emotional.

Still, if there was one Original Screenplay that resonated with a mass audience, it's evidently Barbie. Greta Gerwig makes up for her Best Director snub with a much-deserved nod in the Original Screenplay field, so evidently the BAFTA voters, much like the general public, appreciated the movie's witty synthesis of Mattel history, meta-comedy and empowerment message.

Bringing up the rear is another nod for The Holdovers, specifically its screenplay by David Hemingson. It's relatively unusual for director Alexander Payne to pass writing duties to somebody else, but Hemingson ably assimilates Payne's characteristics from his brittle observations of stunted lives to the deft mixture of broad comedy and underlying tragedy. Payne's movies have in the past been consistently recognised on the awards circuit for their writing, so consider this the dark horse in its respective field.



Best Adapted Screenplay

Oppenheimer would appear to be the pack leader in the Adapted Screenplay category. Christopher Nolan's script has been lauded for its close attention to detail, particularly in its depiction of atomic development, and this is, of course, characteristic of the filmmaker's style. Nolan has never won an award for any of his screenplays, not even Memento, so will Oppenheimer make up for these earlier oversights?

It'll have to work hard against Poor Things, Yorgos Lanthimos' adaptation of Alasdair Gray's 1992 novel. Screenwriter Tony Macnamara worked with Lanthimos to awards-courting success on 2019's The Favourite and their collaboration here has been similarly lauded, once again blending outrageous black humour with penetrating insight into the human condition. But will the screenplay's jettisoning of the novel's Glasgow setting hurt its BAFTA chances in the long run?

Andrew Haigh has also been nominated for All Of Us Strangers as he adapts Taichi Yamada's book Strangers to bewitching and emotional effect. At the opposite end of the scale is The Zone of Interest, adapted by Jonathan Glazer from Martin Amis' book of the same name. This is the intentionally chilly, clammy and disturbing antithesis to All Of Us Strangers, distilling Amis' book to its very essence and making us the audience complicit with those living in the vicinity of the Auschwitz concentration camp.



Film Not in the English Language

This has emerged as one of the most competitive fields at the 2024 BAFTAs. Anatomy of a Fall is broadly matched with both Past Lives and The Zone of Interest in terms of cumulative nominations. In that sense, any of these can be tipped as the favourite for Film Not in the English Language. (The designation of Anatomy of a Fall and Past Lives in this category is, however, somewhat contentious as a great deal of both films is in English for dramatic effect.)



Best Animated Film

Will Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse make good on its status as 2023's most successful animated movie and most successful comic book movie? It's likely the popular choice but one shouldn't underestimate The Boy and the Heron: the ravishing Japanese animation has won plaudits and a great deal of attention for being the allegedly final film of veteran animator Hayao Miyazaki (although he's said that twice before).

Or will the BAFTA go to Pixar's visually arresting clash-of-elements adventure Elemental?



Outstanding British Film

There are plenty of surprises, some of them potentially controversial, in the field for Outstanding British Film. Some might contest whether the blockbusting Roald Dahl-themed Wonka (currently top of the UK box office) is a British movie, although, given the pedigree of its source writer, cast and overall tone, it's certainly British in spirit.

Likewise, The Zone of Interest has been shot in German, relative to the horrific story it's relaying. However, to play devil's advocate it's helmed by a British director Jonathan Glazer and has largely British backing.

One might recognise the likes of All Of Us Strangers, The Old Oak, Rye Lane and Scrapper as more recognisably 'British', since they're all filmed on home soil (and all fantastic with it). It's satisfying to see Molly Manning Walker's vibrant How to Have Sex put up a showing in this category, and it's evidently been propelled by a warm response from both critics and audiences.

Napoleon is surely the most surprising inclusion here: veteran British filmmaker Ridley Scott is a brand unto himself and it's likely his status as a groundbreaking filmmaker that has yielded the movie's recognition. 

And what to make of Poor Things, given it was shot in Hungary and occupies a fantastical steampunk world that doesn't owe allegiance to any form of recognisable reality, British or otherwise?

Thoughts aside, let's just celebrate a fabulous selection of thought-provoking and brilliantly designed films that make Outstanding British Film potentially the most interesting category at this year's BAFTAs.



The 2024 EE BAFTA Awards take place on February 18th and the full list of nominations can be found by clicking the link below.


Will the BAFTAs anticipate the Oscars in March? Follow our ongoing 2024 awards season coverage by clicking the link below.


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