March 10, 2021
A British coming-of-age drama about inner-city schoolgirls leads the lack of nominations and four female directors are shortlisted, meaning whatever Bafta has done behind the scenes has worked
The Bafta nominations seem this year to have answered two perennial objections: that they are not diverse enough and – perhaps paradoxically – not British enough. Four out of the six best director nominees are women: Chloé Zhao for the docufictional road movie Nomadland, Sarah Gavron for the explosively energetic social-realist Rocks, Jasmila Žbanić for Quo Vadis, Aida?, a gruelling reconstruction of the Srebrenica massacre during the Bosnian war, and Shannon Murphy for her family dysfunction drama Babyteeth.
Bafta has also expanded the outstanding British film category to 10 entries, apparently in honour of the entrants’ strength (although this is arguably an artificial bit of goalpost moving). The star of this category is Rocks, which jointly leads the pack with a handsome seven nods, level with Nomadland; Florian Zeller’s harrowing dementia drama The Father gets six, along with Emerald Fennell’s brilliant rape-revenge satire Promising Young Woman. The outstanding British debut section – long considered the beating heart of the Baftas, and the category where a nomination can launch a career – has a lot of duplications with outstanding British film, and it’s great to see double-nods for Ben Sharrock’s wonderful refugee movie Limbo and Rose Glass’s outstanding horror Saint Maud.