Not Even Performing Shakespeare Can Bring Denzel Washington to BAFTA as the Actor is Snubbed (Again)

After 49 films, eight Oscar nominations, with two wins for “Glory” (1989) and “Training Day” (2001), Denzel Washington seems to still not be good enough for the Brits, getting snubbed in leading actor by the BAFTA Awards for his work in “The Tragedy of Macbeth.”

Despite over 270 accolades across his 45-year career in film, Washington has never received a BAFTA nomination, one of the more obvious omissions in BAFTA’s 75-year history. While many of his slights are either head-scratching or poorly-timed with late U.K. releases, some of his snubs have been blatant oversights by the British voting body.

Washington is the most nominated Black actor in Academy Awards history, with eight acting nominations, expecting to extend to a ninth for his work as the Scottish noble Lord Macbeth in writer and director Joel Coen’s black-and-white adaptation of the William Shakespeare play. His nominations have included two for best supporting actor for “Cry Freedom” (1987) and “Glory” (1989), for which he won for the latter. His others have been for best actor for “Malcolm X” (1992), “The Hurricane” (1999), “Training Day” (2001), “Flight” (2012), “Fences” (2016) and “Roman J. Israel, Esq” (2017). This year marks 20 years since he became the second Black man to win a lead actor Oscar for his work in “Training Day.”

With “Fences,” which he directed, he also made history, becoming the first Black person ever to be nominated for best picture (as one of the film’s producers) and acting in the same year. However, BAFTA only nominated the film, adapted from the play by August Wilson, for best supporting actress for Viola Davis, for which she won.

If we can consider the glass half full, Will Smith picked up his first BAFTA nom for his performance as Richard Williams, the father of tennis pros Venus and Serena, in “King Richard” from Reinaldo Marcus Green. Smith has been nominated for two Oscars over his career – “Ali” (2001) and “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006), the former coincidentally, he lost to Washington. That was also the same year that Halle Berry became the first Black woman to win best actress for “Monster’s Ball,” which wasn’t eligible for BAFTA until the following year but was nominated.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has historically lacked diversity among the acting and directing nominees, so following the results of a diversity review, the group instituted jury methods for voting process in performance and director categories.

Fifteen performances progressed to Round Two of voting, which ultimately yielded the lineup of nominees. In Round One, the acting chapter voted where the top 12 were automatically included in determining the longlist. The Longlisting jury voted on the remaining three places. The top two automatically become official nominees. However, those results are not revealed for Round Two, the jury votes for the four remaining slots from the 13 candidates on the longlist. In Round Three, the general voting membership will select the winner in this category.

Is this jury method working for the BAFTA Awards? There seems to be a divide among industry professionals, but the leadership’s effort to be more inclusive is apparent. There’s an evolving method to find and create balance.

Co-distributed by Apple Original Films and A24, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” also assembles an impressive cast that includes Frances McDormand, Corey Hawkins, Moses Ingram and Brendan Gleeson.

Oscar nomination voting closed on Tuesday and will be announced on Feb. 8.

The BAFTA Awards are scheduled to take place on March 13.

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