At tea, award-season contenders talk BAFTAs, Golden Globes

LOS ANGELES -- Many of the film and TV industry award season's principal players gathered Saturday afternoon for a spot of tea and talked a little business.

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The semiannual event, sponsored by the Los Angeles branch of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), is held the day before each Emmy and Golden Globe ceremony, and it usually attracts many of each award show's top contenders. Among tea attendees this weekend were actors Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Revenant") and Mark Ruffalo ("Spotlight"), actresses Alicia Vikander ("The Danish Girl," "Ex Machina") and Cate Blanchett ("Carol").

A large presence of the "Carol" cast and crew was no surprise, given the period romance tied the historical drama-thriller "Bridge of Spies" in BAFTA nominations, announced Friday. Each film earned nine nods. Such big recognition coming now from BAFTA is significant given that award-season spoils have been distributed among a wider than usual array of films, said "Carol" co-producer Stephen Woolley.

"It's a fantastic thumbs-up for us," he said. "And it will mean a lot, I think, to the more discerning voters across America, whether it's the American Academy or the DGAs (Directors Guild Awards) or any of those awards still to come."

Irish actress Caitriona Balfe, in Los Angeles to attend the Globes, expressed gratitude to the Globe organizers, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), for acknowledging "Outlander" with three nominations. Though an international ratings hit, the series is a sci-fi romance -- a genre piece, the sort that has historically been overlooked by awards groups.

"Well, very easily you can be pigeonholed," Balfe said. "It's hard to sort of break through the ceiling."

Veteran American actor Jeffrey Tambor also tipped his hat to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for being among the first to honour his series, the dramedy "Transparent," which went on to win the Emmy for outstanding comedy series.

"This year, it's just wonderful because we are still the little engine that could," Tambor said. "You know, there's film and there's television. And way over there in Alhambra: streaming. It's still a little thing."

"Transparent" can only be seen online, by subscribers of Amazon Prime.

Once the closing credits roll on the Globes, the award-season attention turns to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose Oscar nominations will be unveiled Thursday. While there seem to be numerous best-picture givens, such as the widely honoured "Spotlight," "Carol" and "The Big Short," many pundits have said they expect the unexpected.

Actor Demetrius Grosse, part of the ensemble of the acclaimed hip-hop film "Straight Outta Compton," said, "I think we could get the nomination for best picture. You know, let's be very honest. The Academy is made up of mostly old white men. (But) I think this story is told in a very strategic way, in that we see the pathos of how these people -- across demographic lines -- come together to create something special. "

"So, I think we can get a nomination," Grosse continued. "We got the nomination for the SAG Awards. So let's see what happens."


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