‘Belfast’ and ‘Boiling Point’ Lead in Britain, Critics Salivate Over ‘Eternals’ RT Score

BELFAST — Courtesy of Focus Features

Each week, we’re bringing you a recap of the latest awards news, announcements and voting deadlines to keep you in the loop all season long. Here is the news for the week ending November 5, 2021.

Happy Friday, readers!

The British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) announced their nominees this week, and presumed Oscar frontrunner Belfast tied with Boiling Point for the most overall nominations with 11 apiece. Each film nabbed lead, supporting, and breakthrough performance citations as well as various technical nods. Kenneth Branagh was not nominated for Best Director, though, and Belfast missed the cut for Best Independent British Film.

So what is BIFA and why does it matter? It’s kind of like the Gothams or the Spirit Awards. Missing out with these groups — or winning them — doesn’t necessarily do much for a film that is grabbing lots of headlines already. But any nomination at this stage can help raise the profile for hopefuls that need to get themselves noticed and talked about by audiences and voters. BIFA also helps us get an early peek at what the British contingency of AMPAS might be thinking and while Boiling Point, Ali + Ava, and other BIFA-nominated films aren’t going to make headway with Oscars, it looks pretty likely they’ll go strong for Branagh’s semi-autobiography when the time comes.

A very brief primer on how BIFA works: the budget cap is $22.5 million and, hopefully it’s obvious but the financing and production need to be mostly free from major studio involvement. (Major studios = Amazon Studios, Apple, Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros.) Submissions also have to be British, which means they are produced by British companies and also include casts and crews that are primarily from the UK.

The BIFA winners will be announced on December 5, 2021.

ETERNALS — Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Here in the US, critics and Film Twitter got weirdly gleeful over the MCU’s first “certified Rotten” entry, Chloé Zhao’s Eternals, which hits theaters this weekend. The objections have been even weirder. “It’s not Zhao enough!” “It’s too Zhao!” “They spend too much time introducing us to these characters we’ve never met before!” and also, “I’m just tired of the trailer.” Which, okay, that last one is kind of fair when lamenting marketing, but has nothing to do with the quality of the movie itself. The whole conversation has gotten super weird.

But what does this have to do with awards? Well, Eternals was never likely to follow in the footsteps of Black Panther with lots of history-making nods and a Best Picture nomination. But it is still very much a player in technical categories including costume design, hair and makeup, sound, and visual effects. Not-so-fun-fact: in the unlikely but not impossible event that Eternals were to beat Dune in the visual effects race, it would only be the second film directed by a woman to win the category. The first was The Matrix, directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski, which has the caveat that the Wachowskis had not yet transitioned and we didn’t know. Earlier this week, I chatted with Variety’s Clayton Davis about the unfortunate history of the visual effects awards and he went even deeper into the research in this insightful piece.

And we come back to the main point of this: the Tomatometer and the jubilation surrounding it are not going to derail the movie’s chances in certain categories. After all, Suicide Squad is an Oscar winner too.

tick, tick…BOOM!, COURTESY OF NETFLIX

Next week, AFI Fest, the last of the big fall film festivals, takes over Hollywood. Netflix will bring tick…tick…Boom! and The Power of the Dog to the historic Chinese Theater, Halle Berry’s Bruised and Will Smith’s King Richard get the red carpet treatment. Some international features make their way to the west coast as Compartment No 6, Parallel Mothers, and Petite Maman are also set for excited audiences. The festival runs from November 10-14.

BEFORE YOU GO, HERE’S WHAT IS HITTING THEATERS AND STREAMING THIS WEEK:

(Click on the links to read our official We Live Entertainment reviews.)

  • Eternals (Marvel Studios), dir. Chloé Zhao — Theaters
  • Spencer (Neon), dir. Pablo Larrain — Theaters
  • Finch (Apple Originals), dir. Miguel Sapochnik — AppleTV+
  • The Beta Test (IFC Films), dir. Jim Cummings, PJ McCabe — Theaters
  • Hive (Kino Lorber), dir. Blerta Basholli — Theaters
Written by
Karen Peterson is the Awards Editor for We Live Entertainment. She previously worked as the Assistant Editor at Awards Circuit, now owned by Variety. Her work can also be found at Citizen Dame and at the Watch and Talk podcast. Her non-awards season hobbies include Angels baseball, taking pictures of other peoples' pets, and tweeting about The Bachelor franchise.

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