From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: No matter how banal you imagine the Red Carpet presenters at an award ceremony are going to be, it’s never quite banal enough. Here in Britain, we had a former member of a boy band doing the interviewing live on TV. Like the Oscars which the UK film awards are supposed to portend, the BAFTAs have become half-awards ceremony, half-awards show. The screaming from behind the crush barriers has ratcheted up a notch because HRH Prince William, the newly appointed president of BAFTA has arrived. Inside the venerable Royal Opera House, HRH segues first on stage and gets into the spirit of the show, quipping that he’d been told to keep his speech short unless he wants Mickey Rourke wrestling him off it. Jonathan Ross, the bad boy of British TV, is our rather unfunny host. But instead of focusing on Ross, the broadcast keeps cutting to Robert Pattinson in a play for all those Twihard viewers.
Ross begins his lame patter – “Watching The Hangover made me wonder if anybody’s ever woken up with a tiger in their room – apart from half the cocktail waitresses in Las Vegas, that is” – and then starts having to explain his punchlines. Always a bad sign. James Corden, a British TV comedy actor, gets a big laugh when he says that it may be the BAFTA awards but “backstage it looks like the MILF awards. That Kate Winslet, she’s got to be a front runner”.
Once reclusive Terry Gilliam, the auteur director, presented a technical award giggling like a schoolgirl. Nick Frost, co-star of Hot Fuzz, and Mackenzie Crook, one of the stars of the original Brit version of The Office, ad-lib their way through a dreadfully unfunny teleprompter script for Best Visual Effects. Here’s a surprise: Matt Dillon presenting the Best Supporting Actress award and squinting at the teleprompter. (My favourite Matt Dillon story is the time he came into an art gallery and decided whether to buy a painting by how he looked against it. Hmm, not a bad way to buy art.)
Andrea Arnold, the Fish Tank director who’s just won the award for Outstanding British Film, goes on stage and tells a bizarre story about the dream she had last night. Surely telling one person what you dreamt last night is bad enough, let alone telling around 5 million viewers at home. She signs off with, “God save the Queen.” Backstage, she refuses to say why she’s wearing knitted woollen gloves. She’s a character, no doubt about it.
Kristin Stewart wins the public-voted Orange Rising Star Award. All she can manage to express her feeling is, “Wow, I can’t describe it,” she says somewhat unhelpfully to the media backstage.
Kathryn Bigelow, who captures 6 awards tonight including Best Director and Best Film, dedicates the honors to the U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We all felt a real responsibility for the men and women in the field,” Bigelow says. When Colin Firth wins Best Actor for A Single Man, Firth admits he nearly sent an email turning down the role, but became distracted by a refrigerator repair guy. “Never send an email before you’ve been visited by the fridge repairer,” he quips.
Because of his rambling rant at last year’s BAFTAs, everyone’s in an anticipatory mood when Mickey Rourke strolls on stage, wearing a bizarre top knot in his dyed hair. He’s having trouble with the teleprompter. “Aw, fuck it, I can’t see that far away … slow it down,” he barks. Carey Mulligan wins for An Education after Rourke jokingly announces her as George Clooney. And Dustin Hoffman comes out to present Best Film, The Hurt Locker. Avatar won only 2 awards.
Finally, we come to the grand finale: Vanessa Redgrave’s Academy Fellowship. First, Prince William and then Uma Thurman introduce “the sublime, the supreme” Vanessa, Our Greatest Living Actress. She’s led up on stage looking frail and a little overwhelmed. BAFTA no doubt was crossing its fingers that she wouldn’t start railing against “Zionist hoodlums” like she did when she won an Oscar for Julia in the 1970s. Nope. It’s a graceful, luminous, and touching thank you. Ah well, the Establishment’s soft embrace is hard to resist even for a lifetime revolutionary, especially at awards time.
Like I said, no matter how cynical you are, when it comes to half-award ceremonies and half-award shows, it’s just never quite enough.