Sunday, February 16, 2014
The BAFTAs Confirm the Worse
As I watched the winners announced via twitter this afternoon, it became clear early on that BAFTA really enjoyed Gravity and American Hustle. When Gravity won Best British Film, beating out smaller production films that were truly more British, I wondered it Gravity was also going to win Best Picture. I was mortified when Michael lost best supporting actor. I felt foolish in daring to think he even really had a chance. And to make matters worse, when Lupita lost to Jennifer Lawrence, I knew exactly what was happening and I lost complete interest in continuing to chat with fellow fassinators about the BAFTAs. It was not fun anymore, the chat was open so that we could have fun and celebrate and cheer on Michael and 12YAS. But there was nothing to celebrate and it was pointless! It's hard trying to enjoy watching these award shows when your favorite performers and film are not being rewarded. All this optimistic talk about how impressed the Brits were with 12YAS was just a red herring, they had no intentions in honoring a film they really couldn't relate to. A film about American slavery is not something the British care much about, certainly not in the performances of the two supporting characters that really draw us to the film.
So after logging off the internet in complete disgust for about four hours, I come back online to learn that 12YAS and Chiwetel did win. Unfortunately, I was not moved by this news. How can a film legitimately win "Best Film" when it doesn't win any of the categories that truly define that a film is great? 12YAS did not win cinematography, directing, editing, music, sound, ADAPTED SCREENPLAY (I put that in caps because for the love of GOD, how could 12YAS NOT win Adapted Screenplay?). For 12YAS to go on to "win" Best Film, it feels like BAFTA committed fraud. Why didn't they just give it to Gravity because it's obvious that they really liked that film, or even American Hustle? I just don't buy it, this best film win is hollow and insincere, and it troubles me to admit this.
In his first time working with Steve McQueen, Chiwetel Ejiofor pulls off in one chance what Michael could not do with three McQueen films under his belt. Chiwetel won Best Actor, and for what it's worth, well, good for him. But Michael Fassbender still doesn't have a BAFTA and that just pisses me off. Michael didn't win the Rising Star award in 2009, he wasn't even nominated for Hunger, a film in which he lost nearly 40 pounds off an already slight frame. Michael was nominated for Shame - a token nomination for a film that featured him in frontal nudity which is a no-no for actors. He would just have to be satisfied with a mere nomination. And now with 12YAS, a supporting role that no other actor of his caliber could have pulled off. The supporting actor category tends to like awarding the bad guy because the villain is most often in the supporting role, so surely this would be a breeze for Michael! Yet again, BAFTA decided to pass on Michael's genius. So this is why it is extremely, extremely bittersweet to celebrate for Chiwetel... first time role with McQueen lands him the opportunity to scoop up awards left and right, and this BAFTA win helps push him closer to the Oscar (unless AMPAS finally decides to award Leonardo Dicaprio).
Michael Fassbender is not going to win the Oscar this year. Had he won BAFTA tonight, it would have helped tremendously. The politics of what it takes to win the top awards are pretty crystal clear now. Here are the factors I believe to be the reason why Michael's performance in 12YAS has not been truly honored:
1. Epps is a straight up racist slave owner - the language he uses and the physical abuse and rape this character does has scared the hell out of voters. There is no empathy for his character, and some voters may foolishly think ill of Fassbender just because he played the role so well. Michael has performed in this role good enough to earn just a pat on the back nomination, but he was never destined to walk across any awards ceremony stage this year. This is a damn shame!
2. Michael Fassbender is a white actor in a film about American slavery with a large black cast. No awards body was going to give him an award and risk him being the only winner during that event for playing a role that was such a horrible catalyst towards completely empathetic characters played by black actors. How would it look to the industry to have Michael Fassbender win an award, but not the other two primary nominees, Chiwetel and Lupita? In response to my support for Michael, I was told at Awards Watch by a poster who was trying to help me see the light (paraphrase) "There's no way in hell anyone is going to honor a white man for playing a white racist slave owner; Fassbender ain't winning for this role so get that out of your head". I knew that person was speaking the truth, but I had held out hope that merit would come out on top of politics and political correctness. What a silly girl I am eh?
3. Regardless of Michael being available to campaign or not, one thing is for sure, FoxSearchlight, yet again, dropped the ball with Michael in not properly marketing/promoting him. In the For Your Consideration ads for 12YAS that were released in the past few days, Fassbender is nowhere to be seen, and the ads focus only on Chiwetel and Lupita, as if they were the only two nominated. It's as if they are either embarrassed or hesitant to support Michael, or political correctness is preventing them from supporting an actor who had to take on the one most brutal performance of the year. Upon seeing these Fassbenderless ads, the final nail was in the coffin against any hope for Michael to garner votes.
I take solace in knowing that so many people were rooting for Michael, and many of these people aren't hard core Fassinators, they just really like Michael and wanted him to win for playing a role that no one else could. Michael is the consummate professional and I know he was very happy and supportive for Steve and Chiwetel tonight at the BAFTAs. But I also know that he's a lovely and sensitive person and this loss has to hurt a little. So for now, Michael took a break from filming Macbeth to attend this fraud of an event, and I now wonder if Michael will even attend the Oscars. He is filming in the UK, and the odds are against him, totally against him in winning the Oscar. So, will he go to support Steve and the others? Will he take his parents to his first Oscar ceremony as a nominee? Or will he remain in England filming Macbeth and just focus on his work? If anything, I think Michael Fassbender now knows more than ever, how political and unfair, and irrational the award season is. We're just his fans and if we're upset, just imagine how he feels. I think it's lovely that Steve and Chiwetel took a moment to mention Michael's name in their acceptance speeches, it's as if they know he's gotten a raw deal this awards season and they want to help remind people of his acting genius. Ask yourself this, if there was no Edwin Epps character in 12YAS, if he was written out because Steve or John Ridley felt he was too horrible, what kind of film would it have been? Just think about that.
Yup, that's how vital Michael Fassbender was to 12 Years a Slave, and this is the thanks he gets.