A 1.9 Daily Mail article by an anonymous BAFTA voter states — are you sitting down? — that “the voting process is based less on artistic merit than on a combination of coercion, trend-following and pot luck.”
“Maybe 100 films released over the past 12 months have a realistic chance of winning a BAFTA, and probably 70 to 80 of those are released in the last two months of the year,” the author says. “[And come December] you have 50 or 60 films to get through. In less than a month. With Christmas in the middle. And a deadline of January 3rd to vote for your five nominations in each category. It’s just not possible to watch them all. So which ones rise to the top of the pile? The ones you’ve already heard about. And the ones that have already started winning.
“From late November onwards, reviewers and film critic groups start to publish their Top 10 lists. The New York Film Critics Circle is an early big one at the start of December, followed by the American National Board Of Review a few days later, and the Golden Globe nominations a week after that. (Can you see a pattern emerging? The Americans are already setting the pace.) This year, films such as 12 Years A Slave, Gravity and American Hustle got a lot of early momentum. Other much-hyped films such as The Great Gatsby or August: Osage County started to fall away.
Lupita Nyong’o from 12 Years A Slave was hailed early on as a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actress, and now looks set to claim the BAFTA. Old favorite Bruce Dern was hailed the comeback king for his Best Actor role in the little-seen Nebraska, and sure enough he has bagged a Bafta nomination. So, very quickly, the front-runners are anointed. And they ride that wave all the way to the BAFTAs and beyond.
“The point is clear. We’re sheep. And we follow the sheep in front of us. And the little guys fall by the wayside.”