That's a bit more like it, BAFTA. After years of forgetting what a British film looks like, the 2014 nominations suggest you're starting to remember.
Gravity leads the field of nominations this year, as expected. Shot at Pinewood and Shepperton (not in space, sadly), beautifully created by post-production peeps Framestore and produced by David Heyman, it's technically a British film. It's artistically a British film too, thanks to Steven Price's score, which is easily the best thing recorded on a sound track last year.
In that sense, the 2014 BAFTA nominations aren't half bad. Steve McQueen gets the recognition he deserves as one of our country's most interesting directors, with 12 Years a Slave picking up 10 nominations behind Gravity's 11. American Hustle is the third most-nominated movie, continuing David O'Russell's awards favourite run after Silver Linings Playbook (and starring Welshman Christian Bale), but it's nice to also see Philomena in the mix for Best Film alongside Captain Phillips (directed by fellow Brit Greengrass). It's a big step from last year, when the top prize was divided by Life of Pi, Argo, Les Mis, Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln. Now, there are three Brits in the running,, if you include 12 Years a Slave - technically, McQueen's movie has US producers, despite its UK lead and director.)
People have already been quick to single out the big hitters missing from the title race. There's no Inside Llewyn Davis. There's no The Wolf of Wall Street. But that's exactly the way it should be. Why give American movies the spotlight when we can promote our homegrown post-production skills, our domesticated Denches and our unflinching filmmakers?
Which brings us to the Outstanding British Film category, simultaneously the best and worst thing about the BAFTAs. You could complain that Gravity and Philomena are in both pens, stealing spots away from other movies, but what it shows is that, for once, the Best Film category is beginning to get it right; in an ideal world, they would only have the one list of Best Film nominees, on which films such as Philomena and BFI-backed The Selfish Giant would already be present.
That's what the British Independent Film Awards do - and they're the only other high-profile awards body to celebrate British talent. This year, they nominated movies such as Locke, Under the Skin and Metro Manila. The latter, a fantastic Filipino drama directed by Brit Sean Ellis, is up for Best Foreign Language Film at the BAFTAs, while Locke and Under the Skin aren't eligible. But two other BIFA contenders are also missing from BAFTA's list: Filth and A Field in England.
Both are bold pieces of cinema and both are undoubtedly British, but BAFTA chose to highlight Rush and Saving Mr. Banks in the Outstanding British Film instead. They've effectively done this to James McAvoy's career-best performance:
It's a strange decision given BAFTA's recognition of other British thesps. Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks joins Philomena's The Dench under the Best Actress umbrella, while 12 Years' Chiwetel Ejiofor seems like a deserving dead-cert for Best Actor, not to mention his Irish co-star Michael Fassbender for Best Supporting.
That's now the way I try to think of the British Academy of Film and Television Awards. With the organisation intent of positioning itself as an Oscars-a-like group and the cinema industry more globalised than ever, the BAFTAs are more a celebration of noteworthy Brits involved in bigger productions rather than specifically British films.
That's why Sally Hawkins' nomination is, for my money, the best of the whole bunch; her supporting role in Blue Jasmine is a generous, understated turn that could easily be overlooked. BAFTA's choice to highlight her performance is at the very least what the organisation should be doing to earn the first letter of its name.
The Oustanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer gong helps to balance the scales away from the larger studios: alongside Kelly Marcel's first script (Saving Mr. Banks) sit Good Vibrations, For Those in Peril and Shell.
But imagine what it would be like if everyone involved in those got mentions too? If Chloe Pirrie and Richard Dormer were nominated for their fantastic lead roles? If Clio Barnard's poetic direction of The Selfish Giant were rewarded? Or young actors Shaun Thomas and Conner Chapman were showed off to the world as they should be? Imagine if BAFTA followed through with its trumpeting of Steve McQueen and hailed another non-mainstream artist, Ben Wheatley, for producing an equally striking British masterpiece in the last 12 months? Or acknowledged the distribution model chosen by Wheatley's A Field in England, which is (in its own way) as groundbreaking as Gravity's CGI work?
I'm happy to call a film starring Americans and directed by a Mexican "British", when our industry has been so vital to its existence. But to ignore equally brave British productions seems a shame. We've made big steps this year: McQueen, Bale, Greengrass, Framestore, Coogan. Brits have all been heavily involved in BAFTA's Best Film list. But Scorsese and O'Russell for Best Director? It's great to see BAFTA's grown the balls to go its own way from Uncle Oscar - note the cheeky nod for Matt Damon in Behind the Candelabra, which isn't eligible for an Oscar - so why cow-tow at other times? Despite what some film critics say, we don't need more of The Wolf of Wall Street in this year's nominations: we need less. Then maybe there'd be room to start fielding for England properly.
Read on for the full list of BAFTA 2014 nominations: