Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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The BAFTA bump for young stars

February 12, 2015

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Award season is in full swing and last weekend’s Grammys gave people a number of things to talk about on social media, including plenty of controversy over Beck winning Album of the Year.

But when it comes to awards, winning isn’t everything (despite Kanye West’s complaints). No award better exemplifies that than the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Rising Star award, which was given out Sunday in London as Americans were occupied by the Grammys.

This year’s winner was the British actor Jack O’Connell, who gained the spotlight under Angelina Jolie’s direction in the World War Two epic Unbroken. Many critics believe he has the talent to become the next top name in the business.

Many of the BAFTA winners are millennial British actors who don’t get much attention in the States. But history has proven that even just a nomination for the BAFTA Rising Star award often means future success, both financially and critically, in an actor’s future. That’s true not just in the UK, but globally.

With the Academy Awards coming up at the end of the month, it’s easy to see that there’s a lot of influence from the British film industry on its American counterpart.

Just take a look at the first three years of the award:

  • In 2006, its inaugural year, James McAvoy took home the honor and went on to land the role as a young Doctor Xavier in the X-Men franchise. But that nomination class included names like Chiwetel Ejiofor, who earned critical success as lead in the powerful 12 Years a Slave, Michelle Williams, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2010 after he movie Blue Valentine, and Rachel McAdams, who is one of the most recognized names in Hollywood.
  • Eva Green, another critical and financial success, won in 2007. But nominated for the award were names that eventually took off in a big way for Hollywood, including Emily Blunt, Naomie Harris and Cillian Murphy.
  • Shia LaBeouf won the award in 2008, a year that featured nominations for Sienna Miller, who acted in two movies nominated for Film of the Year at this year’s Academy Awards, and the very popular Ellen Page.

Other winners and nominees include Michael Cera, Michael Fassbender, Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, Carey Mulligan, Tom Hardy, Emma Stone, Chris Hemsworth, Eddie Redmayne and Tom Hiddleston.

If you’ve seen a movie in the last few years, especially one that was critically acclaimed or a hit at the box office, you probably watched an actor on the BAFTA list.

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