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“12 Years” Wins BAFTA Best Picture, But Upsets Divide Actors’ Categories

Do the British Academy Awards mean anything to the American academy voters? It’s hard to say. Probably not. But on Sunday “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” divided most of the BAFTA big awards. And there were a couple of crazy upsets in the acting categories that must have award-centric websites going crazy. They basically got everything wrong.

While “12 Years” won Best Picture, “Gravity” won Best British picture– so weird since “Gravity” other than its producer, David Heyman, is an American film from a US company (Warner Bros) with two American actors (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney). Go figure. “Gravity” director Alfonso Cuaron, who is Mexican, won Best Director.

Cate Blanchett was the only actor who was a cinch and won Best Actress for “Blue Jasmine” (take that, Farrow family). Otherwise, the other acting wins were upside down– and just fine, but different from almost everything else we’ve thought was going on.

Chiwetel Ejiofor won Best Actor and beat Bruce Dern, Christian Bale, Tom Hanks, and Leonardo DiCaprio, et al for his work in “12 Years.” Bravo! Of course, he is British. Just saying, that doesn’t hurt.

First timer Barkhad Abdi won Best Supporting Actor for “Captain Phillips.” He knocked out Matt Damon, Bradley Cooper, Michael Fassbender, and Daniel Bruhl (who’s British).

Best Supporting Actress went to Jennifer Lawrence for “American Hustle.” Lawrence knocked off Brit Sally Hawkins, Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey and more importantly, Lupita Nyongo, who was the favorite.

Otherwise “Philomena” and “American Hustle” split the screenplay awards — adapted and original, respectively. “Gravity” picked up the technical awards.

Everyone got something. But there must have been some dropped jaws. For Ejiofor, the award counters the conventional wisdom that Brits don’t win the BAFTAs. But no Brits won the other acting awards. So there.

All of this means nada. It just means three of the four acting races are wide open. Leto is a little more vulnerable than previously thought. “Captain Phillips” could be stronger in some quarters. Barkhad Abdi is a long shot win in the U.S. but why not? And the way voting works with the Academy, anything could happen. It’s frustrating for the actors and the prognosticators, but great for TV ratings on Oscar night. Everyone loves a nail-biter!

I’ve often said that there are so many good choices this year, you could take any combination of the actors and actresses for the winners, and it would be all right. We were lucky to have such a bumper crop of excellent films!