BAFTA nominations highlight social drama 'I, Daniel Blake'

While the nominations for the awards from the British Academy of Film and Television also included awards season favorites like 'La La Land' and 'Moonlight,' the British Academy also chose to honor 'Daniel,' which tells the story of a British man who is struggling to obtain government benefits.

Joss Barratt/Sundance Selects/AP
'I, Daniel Blake' stars Hayley Squires (l.) and Dave Johns (r.).

The BAFTA award nominations have been announced and while many of the possible recipients echo the movies that have been nominated for prizes in the United States, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts also chose to honor the acclaimed film “I, Daniel Blake,” which taps into the working-class frustrations that are spinning politics into an upheaval across the US and Europe. 

The movies nominated for the BAFTA best film award are “Arrival,” “I, Daniel Blake,” “La La Land,” “Manchester by the Sea,” and “Moonlight,” while the movie directors up for the best director prize are Denis Villeneuve for “Arrival,” Ken Loach for “I, Daniel Blake,” Damien Chazelle for “La La Land,” Kenneth Lonergan for “Manchester by the Sea,” and Tom Ford for “Nocturnal Animals.” 

The best actor contenders are Andrew Garfield for “Hacksaw Ridge,” Casey Affleck for “Manchester by the Sea,” Jake Gyllenhaal for “Nocturnal Animals,” Ryan Gosling for “La La Land,” and Viggo Mortensen for “Captain Fantastic.” The actresses nominated for the best actress award are Amy Adams for “Arrival,” Emily Blunt for “The Girl on the Train,” Emma Stone for “La La Land,” Meryl Streep for “Florence Foster Jenkins,” and Natalie Portman for “Jackie.” 

The actors contending for the best supporting actor award are Aaron Taylor-Johnson for “Nocturnal Animals,” Dev Patel for “Lion,” Hugh Grant for “Florence Foster Jenkins,” Jeff Bridges for “Hell or High Water,” and Mahershala Ali for “Moonlight,” while “I, Daniel Blake” actress Hayley Squires, “Manchester by the Sea” actress Michelle Williams, “Moonlight” actress Naomie Harris, “Lion” actress Nicole Kidman, and “Fences” actress Viola Davis are nominated for the best supporting actress award.

So far, "Daniel" has only drawn attention during this major award season from the BAFTA nominations, in contrast to other best film nominees, with such films as “La La Land” and “Moonlight” being nominated for prizes including the Golden Globe for best comedy or musical (or best drama) and the Screen Actors Guild Award for best cast. 

“Daniel” has received mostly positive reviews for its story about a man who becomes ill and encounters trouble applying for government benefits. Monitor film critic Peter Rainer gave the movie a B+, writing that “the story is powerfully focused and the acting is strong.... [Director] Loach’s low-key naturalism, which barely masks his fury at the injustices perpetrated on screen, is matched by Dave Johns's performance as Daniel. Without seeming pretentious about it, he comes across as an Everyman caught in the gears of an unfeeling system. As the young, indigent mother he befriends, Hayley Squires equals his performance.”

Some critics are happy to see “Daniel” recognized by the British Academy in a way they feel it deserves.

“I, personally, was delighted to see I, Daniel Blake, a great little movie entirely overlooked since its Palme d'Or win at Cannes back in May, register in a big way,” Hollywood Reporter writer Scott Feinberg wrote, while Jack Shepherd and Roisin O’Connor of The Independent wrote that “For British film, Ken Loach's astounding ‘I, Daniel Blake’ leads the pack with five nominations.”

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