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The BAFTA Nominations' 'The Wolf of Wall Street' Snub Is Problematic

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Jan 08, 2014 | 3:22pm EST

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall StreetParamount via Everett Collection

With so many different awards organizations announcing their nominations one after the other, it's difficult to remember how heavily to weigh each one's picks when filling out your Oscar pool sheet. Generally speaking, the BAFTAs are a fairly safe guide when it comes to the Best Picture category. Since 2008, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts has accurately predicted the Academy's top winners, with (even more impressively) only two discrepancies in Best Picture nominations throughout those five years (both in 2012, interestingly enough). Looking at this latest batch of BAFTA's chief nominees — which includes...

American Hustle,
Captain Phillips,
Gravity,
Philomena,
and 12 Years a Slave

— we're not especially surprised by any of the films included in as much as we are a bit displaced over the absence of one of this past year's biggest titles: The Wolf of Wall Street. By now, everyone with his ear close to the conversation is predicting that Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave is a lock for the Best Picture Oscar, but the consideration rarely comes without honorable mention of Martin Scorsese's Wolf. Still, the satirical picture is far from awards fodder. Called far too "extreme" for the Academy's liking, the 3-hour tour de force of mortifying hedonism would be a far cry from an Oscar even without the competition of 12 Years. Instead, as suggested by BAFTA's list of Best Picture nods, organizations are leaning towards the safer, sweeter, more palatable, less controversial, and effectively less good spiritual counterpart to Wolf of Wall StreetAmerican Hustle.

Hustle is a fine movie all its own — it's fun, dynamic, well-acted, and does indeed feel "lived in." But it falls shy of the artistic reach represented by fellow con man epic Wolf, to which comparisons are inevitable (you can hear a terrific discussion on the matter on the latest episode of Fighting in the War Room). While we'd be hard pressed to deny David O. Russell's funny, campy, emotionally charged picture its due recognition of quality, the choice to nominate it for Best Picture over Wolf of Wall Street seems like a statement of fear: "We don't want to nominate that large, messy, outrageous picture that's got everybody all in a huff," mutters a nervous BAFTA. "But what about the one with the hair? That's sorta like Wolf of Wall Street, but cleaner. Jolly good!"

The choice is a scary one, if only that it suggests the possibility that BAFTA has veered away from Wolf of Wall Street due to the volatility associated with the movie rather than due to the quality therein. By this token, would a few more Armond Whites have robbed 12 Years a Slave of its nomination? How about a few more Neil deGrasse Tysons stealing the nod from Gravity?

Hopefully, the Academy will not emulate this aversion to Scorsese's movie — one that more than deserves mention, and would even take home a few trophies in a just system. Peruse the rest of BAFTA's nominations below (which also, obscenely, omit Her in the Original Screenplay category) and share your thoughts on the matter.

BEST FILM
12 YEARS A SLAVE Anthony Katagas, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen
AMERICAN HUSTLE Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, Jonathan Gordon
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca
GRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman
PHILOMENA Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan, Tracey Seaward

DIRECTOR
12 YEARS A SLAVE Steve McQueen
AMERICAN HUSTLE David O. Russell
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Paul Greengrass
GRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET Martin Scorsese

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
AMERICAN HUSTLE Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell
BLUE JASMINE Woody Allen
GRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
NEBRASKA Bob Nelson

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
12 YEARS A SLAVE John Ridley
BEHIND THE CANDELABRA Richard LaGravenese
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Billy Ray
PHILOMENA Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET Terence Winter

LEADING ACTOR
BRUCE DERN Nebraska
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR 12 Years a Slave
CHRISTIAN BALE American Hustle
LEONARDO DICAPRIO The Wolf of Wall Street
TOM HANKS Captain Phillips

LEADING ACTRESS
AMY ADAMS American Hustle
CATE BLANCHETT Blue Jasmine
EMMA THOMPSON Saving Mr. Banks
JUDI DENCH Philomena
SANDRA BULLOCK Gravity

SUPPORTING ACTOR
BARKHAD ABDI Captain Phillips
BRADLEY COOPER American Hustle
DANIEL BRÜHL Rush
MATT DAMON Behind the Candelabra
MICHAEL FASSBENDER 12 Years a Slave

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
JENNIFER LAWRENCE American Hustle
JULIA ROBERTS August: Osage County
LUPITA NYONG’O 12 Years a Slave
OPRAH WINFREY The Butler
SALLY HAWKINS Blue Jasmine

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
GRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman, Jonás Cuarón
MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM Justin Chadwick, Anant Singh, David M. Thompson, William Nicholson
PHILOMENA Stephen Frears, Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan, Tracey Seaward, Jeff Pope
RUSH Ron Howard, Andrew Eaton, Peter Morgan
SAVING MR. BANKS John Lee Hancock, Alison Owen, Ian Collie, Philip Steuer, Kelly Marcel, Sue Smith
THE SELFISH GIANT: Clio Barnard, Tracy O’Riordan

OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER
COLIN CARBERRY (Writer), GLENN PATTERSON (Writer) Good Vibrations
KELLY MARCEL (Writer) Saving Mr. Banks
KIERAN EVANS (Director/Writer) Kelly + Victor
PAUL WRIGHT (Director/Writer), POLLY STOKES (Producer) For Those in Peril
SCOTT GRAHAM (Director/Writer) Shell

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
THE ACT OF KILLING Joshua Oppenheimer, Signe Byrge Sørensen
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR Abdellatif Kechiche, Brahim Chioua, Vincent Maraval
THE GREAT BEAUTY Paolo Sorrentino, Nicola Giuliano, Francesca Cima
METRO MANILA Sean Ellis, Mathilde Charpentier
WADJDA Haifaa Al-Mansour, Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul

DOCUMENTARY
THE ACT OF KILLING Joshua Oppenheimer
THE ARMSTRONG LIE Alex Gibney
BLACKFISH Gabriela Cowperthwaite
TIM’S VERMEER Teller, Penn Jillette, Farley Ziegler
WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS Alex Gibney
ANIMATED FILM
DESPICABLE ME 2 Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin
FROZEN Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
MONSTERS UNIVERSITY Dan Scanlon

ORIGINAL MUSIC
12 YEARS A SLAVE Hans Zimmer
THE BOOK THIEF John Williams
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Henry Jackman
GRAVITY Steven Price
SAVING MR. BANKS Thomas Newman

CINEMATOGRAPHY
12 YEARS A SLAVE Sean Bobbitt
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Barry Ackroyd
GRAVITY Emmanuel Lubezki
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Bruno Delbonnel
NEBRASKA Phedon Papamichael

EDITING
12 YEARS A SLAVE Joe Walker
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Christopher Rouse
GRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger
RUSH Dan Hanley, Mike Hill
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET Thelma Schoonmaker

PRODUCTION DESIGN
12 YEARS A SLAVE Adam Stockhausen, Alice Baker
AMERICAN HUSTLE Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler
BEHIND THE CANDELABRA Howard Cummings
GRAVITY Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin, Joanne Woodlard
THE GREAT GATSBY Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn

COSTUME DESIGN
AMERICAN HUSTLE Michael Wilkinson
BEHIND THE CANDELABRA Ellen Mirojnick
THE GREAT GATSBY Catherine Martin
THE INVISIBLE WOMAN Michael O’Connor
SAVING MR. BANKS Daniel Orlandi

MAKE UP & HAIR
AMERICAN HUSTLE Evelyne Noraz, Lori McCoy-Bell
BEHIND THE CANDELABRA Kate Biscoe, Marie Larkin
THE BUTLER Debra Denson, Beverly Jo Pryor, Candace Neal
THE GREAT GATSBY Maurizio Silvi, Kerry Warn
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG Peter Swords King, Richard Taylor, Rick Findlater

SOUND
ALL IS LOST Richard Hymns, Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor, Micah Bloomberg, Gillian Arthur
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro, Oliver Tarney
GRAVITY Glenn Freemantle, Skip Lievsay, Christopher Benstead, Niv Adiri, Chris Munro
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Peter F. Kurland, Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff
RUSH Danny Hambrook, Martin Steyer, Stefan Korte, Markus Stemler, Frank Kruse

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
GRAVITY Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, Neil Corbould, Nikki Penny
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric Reynolds
IRON MAN 3 Bryan Grill, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Dan Sudick
PACIFIC RIM Hal Hickel, John Knoll, Lindy De Quattro, Nigel Sumner
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton, Patrick Tubach, Roger Guyett

BRITISH SHORT ANIMATION
EVERYTHING I CAN SEE FROM HERE Bjorn-Erik Aschim, Friederike Nicolaus, Sam Taylor
I AM TOM MOODY Ainslie Henderson
SLEEPING WITH THE FISHES James Walker, Sarah Woolner, Yousif Al-Khalifa

BRITISH SHORT FILM
ISLAND QUEEN Ben Mallaby, Nat Luurtsema
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES Megan Rubens, Michael Pearce, Selina Lim
ORBIT EVER AFTER Chee-Lan Chan, Jamie Stone, Len Rowles
ROOM 8 James W. Griffiths, Sophie Venner
SEA VIEW Anna Duffield, Jane Linfoot

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