We all know that one judge from the Olympics. The one deciding the medal fates on sports dependent not on actual time or scored points, who tends to lean towards their home country and lowball others. That is what BAFTA has been over the years. While many eyes are on them as some kind of barometer for how the American Academy is going to vote, the British Academy have given a little nudge to those a bit closer to their side of the pond. Since 1977, only 11 of their 32 selections for Best Picture have actually gone on to win the Oscar. Choices over the years have included Howard's End (1992), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Sense and Sensibility (1995), The Full Monty (1997), The Queen (2006) and Atonement (2007). 2008's Slumdog Millionaire was one of the 11 and by choosing Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, the favorite to win this year, it is further evidence that they are getting better.

As a precursor, of course. You can still judge the merits of the selections by BAFTA and Oscar all you want. But The Hurt Locker, like it or not, was the big winner across the pond winning five BAFTAs including Best Director, Original Screenplay, CInematography, Editing and Sound. Other multiple victors included Avatar(winning for Visual Effects and Production Design), Up (Animated Feature & Score) and The Young Victoria (Costume & Makeup).
Where the BAFTAs lived up to their reputation was in the acting categories. Ignoring Oscar favorites Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock and/or Meryl Streep, their voters instead selected Colin Firth (A Single Man) and Carey Mulligan (An Education) for Best Actor and Actress. Even they couldn't avoid piling on the victory trains for Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) and Mo'Nique (Precious).

Just examining the past six years of BAFTA vs. Oscar, each year they have become a little more reliable for our local pools. In the top eight categories, BAFTA was just 3-for-8 in 2003. The following year they were up to 50/50. 2005-06 they were 5-3 and the last two years 6-2. If that streak is to continue, it is easy to assume that both Firth and Mulligan should be happy with their BAFTA and next expect a repeat on March 7. Picture, Director and the Supporting categories are all Oscar favorites at this point. As is BAFTA's choice for Adapted Screenplay, Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner for Up In The Air. Mark Boal's Original Screenplay for The Hurt Locker, like Up In The Air, is also fresh off a Writer's Guild victory this weekend. Where Boal might be worried for his Oscar chances though is that Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds was disqualified from WGA contention as was Pulp Fiction in 1994 which, in an amusing twist of fate won the BAFTA that year while the Writer's Guild went with Four Weddings and a Funeral.

If you need some help in your Oscar pool and have the BAFTA winners in front of you, they have also improved over the years in the rest of the categories that match up stateside. In 2003-04 they were only 2-for-9 after the Top Eight. In 2005 they were up to 4-for-9, 50/50 in 2006, 60% in 2007, and a stunning 9-for-10 just last year. Their miss for 2008 came in the Foreign Language category, where they have not matched up with Oscar since 2000's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This year they went with France's A Prophet over Germany's The White Ribbon, considered by many to have the edge at Oscar. Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank won for Outstanding British Film.

You can see the full awards tally here.