This BAFTA’s not for Turner(ing), Mr Leigh!

Perhaps the only thing more dull than sitting through Mike Leigh’s snoretacular borefest Mr Turner has been reading the shrill, dreary outpouring of rage from so-called “film critics” and “filmmakers” and “members of the viewing public” about its so-called “snub” in this year’s BAFTA nominations. The truth is that, as many better-informed observers have noted, Leigh’s film is boring and too long and shit – and BAFTA, as usual, have hit all possible proverbial nails on their heads.

The real snub was of course Interstellar, outrageously omitted from the Best Film contenders. Thankfully Nolan’s latest thesis was at least nominated in the category of “Best Original Music” – a fitting tribute to the groundbreaking Hans Zimmer, which gives the lie to those cynical souls who suggested, in a scurrilous publication not worthy to be named here, that his work for the film consisted largely of “copy-and-pasting three bars from the Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack 6,000 times”.

Mr Turner, by contrast, was a masterclass in pretentiousness (which, as we all know, is just the French word for “too long and I got bored”). Supposedly a depiction of a great artist, the film spends approximately INFINITY HOURS showing him interacting with friends, family and colleagues, developing his unique artistic style, and quietly practicing the intricate craft of his trade, without even a single inspirational musical montage. I thought more than several times that, rather than preparing for the shoot by having his actors crawl about like sheep and talk nonsense like cretins, Leigh would have been better off watching Ron Howard’s incomparable A Beautiful Mind. There was a proper biopic – a film which didn’t just show you the life of some bloke and expect you to decide for yourself whether they were a genius or not, but actually TOLD you he was a genius by showing him writing equations on a window and surrounded by flying CGI numbers.

Of course, BAFTA have been martyrs to the fans of this Mancunian timewaster before – like when his 2009 Happy Go Lucky was rightly excluded from the nominations. The essential fallacy of those who protested was aptly pointed out by the then-chair of BAFTA David Parfitt – perhaps best-known as one of the five producers of Shakespeare in Love (1998). He defended the BAFTA nomination decisions for the category of Best Film that year – which included of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Reader – protesting that the awards were “radically different” from the Golden Globes. “The Globes are chosen by a bunch of foreign hacks, and there’s only around 50 of them. We are 6,000 industry professionals,” putting to rest the absurd suggestion that somehow BAFTA’s membership might have made the wrong decision.

Let it never be said that the voters – hand-picked from a waiting list by the Academy’s Board of Trustees – do not represent the absolute cream of today’s British film industry. Although, needless to say their number does not include a certain “Monsieur” Mike Leigh, who reportedly resigned his membership (sour grapes, wethinks?! ), as Parfit points out the membership totals a whopping 6,000 working professionals – a staggering figure which more than proves his point. Anyone wishing to confirm the number might do so by taking glance at the complete membership list someone has posted here:

We here at Flickbook positively salivate at the prospect of casting our eyes down the glorious rollcall within – but we consider the contents of this list to be sacrosanct, and so have resisted the temptation to sneak a peek. If we were to peek, one can only imagine the glittering cinematic legends which might grace its pages – perchance such British film luminaries as:

  • Ricky Gervais
  • Jimmy Carr
  • June Sarpong
  • David Baddiel
  • Nigella Lawson
  • Michael Flatley
  • Tessa Jowell MP
  • Jonathan Ross
  • Chris Martin
  • Rupert Grint
  • Toby Young
  • Quentin Tarantino
  • Harvey Weinstein

If indeed their membership is made up of heavyweight titans of British filmmaking like these – as we here at Flickbook have idly hypothesised it might be, without any factual basis – then BAFTA hardly need worry about accusations that their membership is somehow “out of touch” with the cutting edge of cinema. It is stated quite clearly on BAFTA’s website that “all applicants must be deemed to have made a significant contribution to the industry“ – so we can rest assured that anyone not deeply rooted into UK filmmaking would be given short-shrift by Dame Judi and her like, sent on their way to reserve space for those artists and artisans working at the very pinnacle of contemporary British film.

The fact that the website then goes on to note that “the Board of Trustees reserve the right to accept people who do not meet the above criteria in exceptional circumstances” does not cast any doubt whatsoever on this conclusion, as it is clearly a bit of harmless legalese inserted for reasons of copyright protection or some such. The offensive image which some have tried to conjour up must be given no credence – the idea that the BAFTA Board consists of jaded, cynical relics without talent or taste, who scan the waiting list for any halfway familiar name in a vain attempt to inflate their sense of self-importance and convince the gullible that the institution has some kind of credibility, is one which we here at Flickbook find almost as hilarious as one of David Baddiel’s fantastic jokes!

The ridiculous notion that many of their voters are C, D and E-list celebrities with only a tangential connection to British film, with no conception of or interest in anything of genuine value, clearly does not hold water. Nor does the idea – put forward by that most execrable publication, which must not be named – that the majority of BAFTA voters are “trapped in a middlebrow no-man’s land, encouraging the flood of lukewarm crap which may one day drown the last throbs of genuine life from the industry they claim to represent”.

Poppycock, readers. Rest assured that although the tedious works of flash-in-the-pan phoneys like Mike Leigh and JMW Turner will crumble and fade into obscurity, there will ALWAYS be a BAFTA.


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