Gotta acknowledge our friends across the pond…even if the so-called “British Academy Awards” are traditionally not quite the indicators that the DGA and the Golden Globes are. But it appears they are matching the odds nicely this year. BAFTA’s Triple Crown of Best Pic/Director/Actor for “The Artist” seems to be the likely hat trick come Oscar time on February 26th. “The Artist” is still the one to beat for the big prize and Michael Hazanavicius has been pegged Best Director by the DGA. And Jean Dujardin has overtaken early frontrunner Clooney—especially after his major victory at the SAG Awards. But the silent “The Artist” for Best Original Screenplay? So says BAFTA, as Woody Allen tries to hold onto his buzz for “Midnight in Paris” on this side of the Atlantic. BAFTA’s choice of Best Adapted Screenplay for “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”(which also garnered “Outstanding British Film”)makes for an interesting scenario. If “The Descendants” doesn’t win this award at the big show, will it win ANYTHING? Suddenly, the early favorite in a slew of categories is facing the spectre of a shutout. And besides actual wins for “Tinker”, BAFTA also must be respected for its number of major nominations for critical darling, “Drive”. Supporting wins for Christopher Plummer(“Beginners”) and Octavia Spencer(“The Help”)is exactly what Oscar will do(although some late buzz for Plummer’s fellow octogenarian Max von Sydow is making me a little queasy—“Extremely Bad & Incredibly Nauseating” MUST be shut out!). Which brings us to Best Actress. BAFTA crowned Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady”…and Ms. Streep was the original favorite to make her 3rd trip to the podium in L.A. too. But “The Help” star Viola Davis has been on a buzz tear after her SAG win, and should still eek out a triumph over Meryl in 10 days time. One important thing to remember: “The Iron Lady” is a British production about a British icon that chalked up a British award for an American actress. Ms. Davis does not have that albatross weighing her down in Hollywood. Also, “Rango” now has a BAFTA, and will soon have an Oscar, for Best Animated Feature. And hooray for Almodovar’s “The Skin I Live In”- knocking aside BAFTA nominee(and Academy frontrunner)”A Separation” for Best Foreign Film! In fact, Oscar couldn’t even shortlist Pedro’s picture after Spain submitted Villaronga’s “Black Bread” as the country’s official entry. You may have noticed that I am a big supporter of “The Skin I Live In”. It appeared in my Top Ten even though, in some ways, it is an atypical film from Almodovar. I’ve heard it negatively described as “icky” and “unsettling”, but I greatly admired Pedro’s stab at a Cronenberg-style “body horror” film. And talk about a smashing return to Pedro-world for the once oft-used Antonio Banderas. I didn’t realize how much I missed him.