Netflix has every right to relent after this weekend’s trio of big wins from the Directors Guild of America (DGA), BAFTA and Critics Choice Awards, where it scooped top prizes with Jane’s “The Power of the Dog.” Campion. With its 12 nominations and Oscar nominee Sam Elliott’s reviews of the film’s gay themes arguably helping, the film could be heading to BESTPICTURE (so to speak). However, with two categories of 50/50 storylines up for grabs – “Belfast” and “Licorice Pizza” battling for the original, and “CODA” and “The Power of the Dog” fishing for the adaptation – the answer to which the film won the Academy’s top prize in these races.
Entering a ceremony with the most nominations isn’t always a no-brainer for Oscar success, as evidenced by our last three leads: “Mank” (2020), “Joker” (2019), “The Favorite” and “Roma” (2018). Campion’s methodical drama brought Netflix one step closer to winning the top Academy Award, which was an obvious goal for the streamer. With final Oscar voting set to begin on Thursday and end on March 22, massive momentum is in favor of Netflix leading out the window. However, BAFTA provided a nail-biter for the West, especially after losing the adapted screenplay of Siân Heder’s “CODA,” which also won the supporting actor (Troy Kotsur). The beloved author still managed to walk away with top prizes for Best Picture and Director. As a general rule, the BAFTAs do not “award” films. While the Oscars rewarded “Ben-Hur” (1959), “Titanic” (1997) and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003) with 11 statuettes each, George Roy Hill’s classic Western “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969) is the most BAFTA-awarded film with nine.
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Assessing the path to victory, “Power” could mimic its BAFTA tally for best picture and director, but that outcome might be less likely than picking up another award or two for screenplay and possibly cinematography for Ari Wegner, who won the CCA. Only Lewis Milestone’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930) and Frank Capra’s “You Can’t Take It With You” (1938) won Best Picture and Best Director. Since best picture extension in 2009, the most awarded film has been “The Hurt Locker” (2009) with six and “The Artist” (2011) with five, the rest with four or less. Tom McCarthy’s ‘Spotlight’ (2015), a look at journalists exposing sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, won two awards for original screenplay and picture, the first winner with just two since ‘The Greatest Show on Earth” (1952). Coincidentally, 1952 was the first year that “The Bad and the Beautiful” became the most awarded film with five, not nominated for picture and director. Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’ could be flipping it over to the director’s side.
The script for a “CODA” winning night for Apple Original Films would be a sweep of its three Oscar names – picture, supporting actor and adapted screenplay. It was not nominated for Best Picture at the BAFTAs, and no film has won the unnamed Oscar since “Million Dollar Baby” (2004) due to its late release. We have to go back to “Braveheart” (1995) for a film that overcame the odds, but it’s worth nothing that the BAFTAs took place after the Oscars. However, “CODA” still won the two crossover categories it has with the Oscars.