Surprised that Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel leads the Bafta nominations? You shouldn’t be.
It’s probably fair to say that no-one expected a comic confection about a hotel concierge set in a fictional European republic of the 1930s to dominate the British Academy Film Awards.
But then no-one seems to pay much notice to Wes Anderson during awards season. For a film-maker of such singular vision and offbeat charm, his trophy cabinet (and we imagine he has an ornate, antique one) is gathering dust.
Sure, he’s gathered countless jury prizes at film festivals around the world, but who really gives a damn about them?
When he’s been nominated at the Academy Awards he’s lost out three times (The Royal Tenenbaums in 2001, Fantastic Mr. Fox in 2009 and Moonrise Kingdom in 2012), and he has never figured in the most prestigious categories of Best Film or Best Director.
This is partly because his whimsical style is so divisive: some find it beguiling, for others it’s utterly insufferable.
And, as recent years have shown, when it comes to dishing out those golden statuettes, the Academy always prefers a bit of serious emotive drama over light-hearted fare (Slumdog Millionaire apart).
But as we argued when we placed it at No.8 in our list of 2014’s best films, the ambition of the storytelling in The Grand Budapest Hotel goes “beyond anything even Anderson has attempted before”. It’s a sumptuous, very funny, brilliantly acted film that zips along at lightning speed.
While a biopic (two of which involve famous British scientists this year) is likely to win out in Los Angeles on February 22, perhaps it’s time for the Academy to lighten up a bit and give Anderson the recognition his work deserves.
If not, a few Baftas will just have to do.
You can find the full list of Bafta nominations here. The ceremony takes place on Sunday, February 8.
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