Netflix‘s WWI drama All Quiet on the Western Front won big at the 2023 BAFTA— so big it was kind of shocking. While Everything Everywhere All at Once is otherwise the frontrunner of this awards season, it was mostly shut out of Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars, winning only one category: Editing.
By contrast, All Quiet won seven BAFTAs including Best Film and Best Director. It’s hard to avoid seeing this as a conservative choice from the British Academy, choosing a conventional European war drama over a more experimental film with Asian-American leads. The BAFTAs have long been accused of racist bias, and alongside the All Quiet/Everything Everywhere situation, all of this year’s acting winners happened to be white.
So what does this mean for the Oscars? Is Everything Everywhere headed for a last-minute downfall after months of hype? Not necessarily.
In the run-up to the Oscars, pundits base their predictions on earlier ceremonies like the Critics Choice, the Directors Guild (DGA), and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The DGA is seen as a solid predictor for Best Picture and Best Director, and Everything Everywhere won the big prize this year. Meanwhile, the BAFTAs aren’t as reliable for predicting Oscar wins, in part due to cultural differences between the BAFTA and AAMPA voting bodies.
World War I still looms large in Britain, to an extent that American audiences may not really appreciate. This makes All Quiet an appealing prospect for BAFTA voters, especially the more conservative ones. However, its BAFTA success says more about the British Academy and its majority-white membership than it does about All Quiet‘s quality or likelihood of Oscar victory.
For the past few months, the cast of Everything Everywhere have been killing it on the American awards circuit, launching a charm offensive led by the beloved Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, who compounded a great performance with a compelling IRL comeback narrative. (He’s the favorite for Best Supporting Actor.)
Meanwhile, Everything Everywhere‘s directors, The Daniels, are earning widespread praise both for the film itself and for its word-of-mouth popularity. In an era dominated by blockbusters and streaming services, the industry is excited to see a genuine indie success story. So while the Oscars aren’t exactly immune to racist bias, Everything Everywhere has a lot going for it, especially in terms of momentum.
To editorialize for a minute, All Quiet‘s volume of Oscar nominations is pretty wild in itself: Nine in total, including Best Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay—a rare feat for a foreign-language film. (For comparison, Parasite was nominated for six Oscars, winning four.) But while All Quiet‘s immersive depiction of trench warfare is an understandable choice in technical categories like production design, it isn’t a notably insightful or well-conceived drama—especially when compared to the brilliant 1930 adaptation of the same novel. It’s also rather underwhelming in terms of cultural impact, neither a runaway mainstream hit nor a critical darling.
Barring a truly stupendous push from Netflix’s publicity department, All Quiet seems unlikely to unseat the frontrunners in the top Oscar categories—although it’s probably a safe bet for International Feature.