Numlock Awards: The Final Countdown

Numlock Awards is your one-stop awards season newsletter, and it’s back! Every week, join Walt Hickey and Michael Domanico as they break down the math behind the Oscars and the best narratives going into film’s biggest night. Today’s edition comes from Michael.

Three-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand. Eight-time Oscar loser Glenn Close. 

These could very well be the headlines on April 25, if the BAFTAs are to be believed. We just got a series of really fascinating BAFTA noms and some Critics’ Choice winners earlier in the week that are throwing the women’s acting races into chaos.

Before we dive in, a quick note: the BAFTAs released a longlist of folks who were in contention for their awards. I’ll note as needed where someone in the running for the Oscar was not on the BAFTA longlist.

Best Actress

The last woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress without a BAFTA nomination was Sandra Bullock in 2009 for The Blind Side. That year, Carey Mulligan won for An Education. This year, the Promising Young Woman actress is nowhere to be found, despite the film getting a Best Picture nomination. 

In fact, in the last 10 years, BAFTA has only missed in this category once: in 2012, when Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) won the BAFTA but Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) won the Academy Award. Given that, and as Walter’s chart shows, BAFTA is one of the single best predictors in this category

And yet, of our frontrunners, only Frances McDormand and Vanessa Kirby are on the BAFTA shortlist. They’re joined by Bukky Bakray (Rocks), Radha Blank (The Forty-Year-Old Version), Wunmi Mosaku (His House), and Alfre Woodward (Clemency). A quick note: Clemency was eligible for last year’s Oscars but this year’s BAFTAs given the release schedule, and Rocks isn’t eligible for the 93rd Academy Awards, leaving us with Blank and Mosaku as potential contenders. 

So who is really in the mix? 

McDormand and Kirby have each landed nominations at the BAFTAs, Globes, SAG Awards, and Critics’ Choice Awards. They’ve yet to pick up a major award, but McDormand has won three of Walter’s most predictive local critics’ awards. 

Viola Davis and Carey Mulligan were doing pretty well up until the BAFTAs, picking up the same requisite nominations. Mulligan won the Critics’ Choice Award this week and won one of the most predictive local critics’ awards. 

And then you have your women on the bubble: Amy Adams (Hillbilly Elegy) at SAG, Andra Day* (The United States vs. Billie Holliday) winning a Golden Globe (Drama) and landing a Critics’ Choice nomination, and Rosamund Pike* (I Care a Lot) winning a Golden Globe (Musical/Comedy). Neither Day nor Pike were on the BAFTA longlist, though I’m trying to nail down whether those films were even eligible given when they were released in the UK.

The lack of traditional campaigning is why this year is so weird — not sure how many of you have picked up on this, but there’s an ongoing global pandemic. I’ve mostly avoided mentioning the virtual nature of most of these awards shows and campaign events because it just felt obvious that, Stars, they’re just like us and also have WiFi that falls apart at critical moments of the video call. 

But I think it is hurting a lot of these contenders. Andra Day gave an amazing speech when she was a surprise win at the Golden Globes, and yet she wasn’t in the room with all of the many Academy members who usually populate those seats. Carey Mulligan got a fresh breath of life when she won at Critics’ Choice this Sunday, and yet she, too, had to accept over Zoom. And McDormand doesn’t really do much traditional press, so awards shows and film festivals are the one time she’s genuinely out there and making people remember why they love Frances McDormand. 

I still think shoe-ins for nominations are Kirby, McDormand, Mulligan and Davis, despite the weirdness of the BAFTA nominations. That leaves women like Day, Adams, Pike, Blank, and Mosaku on the bubble. 

In a more normal year, I think Day’s Globe win would have had a much bigger impact and gotten her a ton of visibility, but in a virtual year, it’s hard to say whether her win on the lowest-rated Globes since the year they did a press conference during the writers’ strike is going to be enough. And yet BAFTA really did not respond to Hillbilly Elegy, so that could be an insurmountable voter bloc for Adams to overcome. And a late-surging Minari could do wonders for Ye-ri Han, who I wouldn’t count out just yet. Remember when Marina de Tavira got a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Roma a few years back, despite missing out on all of the precursors? AMPAS likes to keep things a little unpredictable.

As my final lock-in, I’m going with Viola Davis, Andra Day, Vanessa Kirby, Frances McDormand, and Carey Mulligan. 

Best Supporting Actress

Ah, Glenn Close. It was always a little hard to believe that Close would win a career Oscar for playing Mamaw in Hillbilly Elegy, but by missing out on a BAFTA nomination and losing both the Globe and the Critics’ Choice Award, it might be all but over. She’s showed up in enough precursors to be a pretty safe bet on a nomination, but the lack of wins and the BAFTA snub make it hard to imagine a win, especially if she comes up empty at the SAG Awards in a few weeks. 

Meanwhile, Borat’s Maria Bakalova is fresh off a win at the Critics’ Choice Awards and landed a BAFTA nomination, and Minari’s Yuh-jung Youn has nabbed three of the most predictive critics’ awards and also landed on the BAFTA shortlist. They’re joined by Niamh Algar (Calm with Horses), Kosar Ali (Rocks), Dominique Fishback (Judas and the Black Messiah), and Ashley Madekwe (County Lines). Algar, Ali, and Madekwe’s films are not eligible for the 93rd Oscars, so it’s really Dominique Fishback who gets the Oscar bump. 

More important are the women who are missing: Close, Olivia Colman (The Father), Amanda Seyfried (Mank), Helena Zengel (News of the World), and Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian). They’ve all been in the mix, either with Globe or SAG nominations or both, and Foster actually won the Globe. (I would give literally anything to see Jodie Foster win her third Oscar in her pajamas.)

Bakalova and Yuh-jung Youn are starting to seem safe. Minari is peaking at just the right time, landing four BAFTA nominations and a DGA nod for director Lee Isaac Chung. Given that the Academy loves to watch Glenn Close lose an Oscar, she’s also probably still in the running, even if the British Academy didn’t respond well to Hillbilly Elegy on any level. 

What of those final two spots? My educated guess: Olivia Colman and Dominique Fishback. Colman is a recent Oscar winner riding a wave of well-received performances in The Crown and now The Father, so she might still be in that loop where nominations flow in (for other examples of this, look at Penélope Cruz’s nomination for Nine right after an Oscar win or Sam Rockwell’s truly inexplicable nomination for Vice). Fishback is a rising star in a film that is almost certainly going to win Daniel Kaluuya his first Oscar, and given that almost all of her scenes are opposite Kaluuya, I think that gives her an edge over the likes of Seyfried or Zengel, who are in films that haven’t had serious award wins. 

My final predictions are then Maria Bakalova, Glenn Close, Olivia Colman, Dominique Fishback, and Yuh-jung Youn.