How Much Do the BAFTAs Love British Actors?

Around early February, a certain phrase starts popping up in awards discussions: “They’re British, so they’ll win the BAFTA.”

After the various critics’ circle, Golden Globe, and guild awards have all handed out their picks, the British Academy Film Awards are the last major stop on the Oscars race, and they certainly do have a preference for rewarding homegrown movies. (This year, The Favourite leads the field with 12 nominations.) But how much do U.K.-born actors enjoy an advantage at the BAFTAs? Can you really pencil in a Blighty-born contender to take home the trophy over an American frontrunner? We decided to find out, by looking at all the ceremony’s acting races since 2001, when the BAFTAs rescheduled themselves to come before the Oscars.

Of course, not all British winners are created equal. Gary Oldman won the Best Actor BAFTA last year, but Gary Oldman also won every other trophy last year, too. To get a sense of the ceremony’s true Anglophilic tendencies, we will be looking for three related phenomena:

— How often does BAFTA go with a Brit in open races with no established frontrunner?

— How often does BAFTA go with a Brit over an established Oscar frontrunner?

— How often does a British BAFTA winner go on to win the Oscar?

For the purposes of our research, we will be defining an “Oscar frontrunner” as an actor who has won the Golden Globe, Critics Choice, and SAG Awards. By that standard, Glenn Close and Mahershala Ali would be considered frontrunners in Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor this year, while the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress races would be considered open. Got it? Let’s go:

We’ll start with a fairly boring year, as the BAFTAs went chalk, handing awards to the same quartet of actors who scored with Oscar and every other major precursor. As mentioned above, Gary Oldman of Darkest Hour was the only Brit of the bunch.

Though it feels in retrospect like Mahershala Ali was the frontrunner for the entirety of his Moonlight season, he lost the Globe to Nocturnal Animals’ Aaron Taylor-Johnson, making Supporting Actor an open race according to our methodology.  And wouldn’t you know, the BAFTAs went with someone else as well, handing the award to a different Brit, Lion’s Dev Patel. Still, the Oscars didn’t care, handing Ali a well-deserved trophy.

Months before the Brexit vote, the BAFTAs gave us another surprise in the Supporting Actor race. Creed’s Sylvester Stallone had won the Golden Globe and Critics Choice, but Stallone was snubbed at the SAGs, who went with London’s own Idris Elba instead. Stallone was left off the ballot again at the BAFTAs, but instead of Elba, the Brits surprisingly chose another Englishman, Mark Rylance of Bridge of Spies, giving the low-key thespian a crucial momentum boost that helped him take home the Oscar weeks later.

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How Much Do the BAFTAs Love British Actors?

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