'Three Billboards' BAFTA Win Shakes Up Final Weeks of Oscar Season

Martin McDonagh's crime drama got a last-minute resurgence from the British Academy Film Awards.

Three Billboards Day Dng

Martin McDonagh’s crime drama got a last-minute resurgence from the British Academy Film Awards.

Conventional wisdom up until this point had The Shape of Water as the considerable frontrunner for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards. Guillermo del Toro’s Cold War monster movie homage won both the Producers Guild and Directors Guild Awards this month, two of the most predictive precursors to the Oscars. Had the film also taken a prize at the Writers Guild Awards, it would have pulled off a rare hat-trick, and Best Picture would be all but won (only one movie in Academy history, Brokeback Mountain, won all three guild awards and lost Best Picture). Instead, Get Out and Call Me By Your Name won the two WGA film awards, and The Shape of Water was shut out.

Now a Best Film win for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri at the BAFTA Awards only makes The Shape of Water‘s position more tenuous going into the last stretch of the season. Martin McDonagh’s midwest revenge thriller had been largely counted out of the race after McDonagh failed to nab an Oscar nomination for Best Director. On top of that, the backlash to the film has grown to a fever pitch in recent weeks, following its consecutive wins at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Three Billboards is a polarizing piece of work, and the new Oscar ballot system does not reward polarizing. Winners like Moonlight and Spotlight benefited from being widely liked among Academy voters, who largely placed them in the second-place slot in their preferential rankings.

Since Three Billboards and The Shape of Water both have their fair share of detractors, they’ll need a majority of number-one rankings on Oscar voters’ ballots in order to take the biggest prize of the night. If they can’t, it’s possible that another, widely appreciated film sneaks in, especially when you consider that Fox Searchlight is juggling For Your Consideration ads for both contenders. What that other film might be depends on the makeup of the Oscar voting bloc. In previous years, Dunkirk might have seemed the most likely candidate for that dark horse spot, but the newly diverse Academy may want to reward Get Out or Lady Bird instead. In a year with a variety of well-liked films, it’s possible we could be in for another Moonlight-like surprise.

Elsewhere in the BAFTA results, other Oscar frontrunners are solidifying for sure. Since the British Academy of Film and Television Arts has such a large overlap with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, acting winners Frances McDormand, Gary Oldman, Sam Rockwell, and Allison Janney seem like safe bets at this point. Meanwhile, Del Toro took home another Best Director award, and barring an incredible upset, it seems the “Three Amigos” (Del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu) will have matching Oscars this time in March. Roger Deakins also won another long-deserved award for his Blade Runner 2049 cinematography, so his longtime dry period with the Academy may be about to come to a close.

BAFTA Award Winners

Best Film: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, Martin McDonagh

Director: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Leading Actress: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Leading Actor: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Supporting Actress: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Original Screenplay: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh

Adapted Screenplay: Call Me By Your Name, James Ivory

Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins

Sound: Dunkirk, Alex Gibson, Richard King, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo, Mark Weingarten

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer: I Am Not a Witch, Rungano Nyoni (Writer/Director), Emily Morgan (Producer)

Special Visual Effects: Blade Runner 2049Richard R. Hoover, Paul Lambert, Gerd Nefzer, John Nelson

Production Design: The Shape of Water, Paul Austerberry, Jeff Melvin, Shane Vieau

Film Not in the English Language: The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook, Syd Lim

British Short Film: Cowboy Dave, Colin O’Toole, Jonas Mortense

British Short Animation: Poles Apart, Paloma Baeza, Ser En Low

Documentary: I Am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck

Editing: Baby Driver, Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss

Animated Film: Coco, Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson

Costume Design: Phantom Thread, Mark Bridges

Makeup and Hair: Darkest Hour, David Malinowski, Ivana Primorac, Lucy Sibbick, Kazuhiro Tsuji

Original Music: The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat

EE Rising Star Award (Voted for by the public): Daniel Kaluuya

Outstanding British Film: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh, Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin

Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema: Jon Wardle, National Film and Television School

Writer and student based in New York. Ask me about my Blu-Ray copy of The Book of Henry.