LONDON: It’s a chilly evening here in Covent Garden where the BAFTA Awards are underway. The show is held at the Royal Opera House (where earlier I stood aside as Max von Sydow was escorted in through the stage door). The awards are the British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ flagship event, known as the equivalent of the Academy Awards, and are celebrating their 64th year tonight. The usual suspects are all on the line-up for kudos here including The Artist, Hugo, The Descendants, The Help, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Bridesmaids and War Horse. Voting by the 6,500-strong BAFTA membership is done in 3 rounds. All members vote in the first two rounds and in round 3 in the overall film, British film, foreign film, documentary and acting categories. All other categories in round 3 are decided on by their specific branch members. Tom Jones sang the theme song from the 1965 Bond film Thunderball to open the show over images of 007 films, with Judi Dench looking on approvingly from the audience. Host Stephen Fry welcomed “Gentlemen, Iron Ladies, and assorted media scum…” Eloquent, witty and slightly caustic, Fry nails his opening monologue, asking Brad Pitt to blow a kiss to the audience which Pitt reluctantly does. Fry responds, “And now, with tongues?” Martin Scorsese accepted the BAFTA Fellowship honor saying in part, “This is the first award I’ve ever shared with Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. This is the highest and most profound honor for me to stand with them tonight and with you.”
Here are the awards being announced tonight:
THE ARTIST – Thomas Langmann
Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman together are presenting Best Film.
JEAN DUJARDIN – The Artist
Dujardin says: “To receive this from the country of Laurence Olivier, William Webb Ellis, and Benny Hill – c’est incroyable.”
MERYL STREEP – The Iron Lady
Streep says: “The fate of the well-known is to be misunderstood and the ambition of this film was to look at the life of The Iron Lady from the inside out and to locate something real, maybe hidden, but truthful in the life of someone we’ve all decided we know everything about already.”
Meryl Streep loses her shoe on the way to the podium, and Colin Firth slips it back on for her.
THE ARTIST – Michel Hazanavicius
RANGO – Gore Verbinski
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY – Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan
Peter Straughan says: “I’d just like to thank The Artist for not being adapted from a book.” In the night’s most moving moment so far, he also explained
that his wife, Bridget O’Connor, with whom he is credited, died before the film
was made. “She did all the good bits, I made the coffee. I love you, I miss you,
this is for you.”
SENNA – Asif Kapadia
THE ORANGE WEDNESDAYS RISING STAR AWARD
OUTSTANDING BRITISH CONTRIBUTION TO CINEMA
John Hurt says his wife cautioned him against writing a speech and suggested he simply say ‘thank you’ to his peers. He did. “Particularly to all those directors that have given me the opportunity to play some of the most wonderful parts that I would never have in a million years thought of for myself. I am the addition of all their imaginations so I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
Billy Bob Thornton presents to John Hurt. Why? Thornton directed Hurt in his latest film Jayne Mansfield’s Car that premieres in Berlin tomorrow.
THE ARTIST – Michel Hazanavicius
Hazanavicius: “I’m very surprised because so many people thought there was no script because there was no dialogue. So, British people are very smart. Congratulations to you.”
OCTAVIA SPENCER – The Help
Octavia Spencer says: “It’s been said that The Help is an American movie about American problems in American history and I’m so grateful to you for seeing beyond that.”
OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY – Tomas Alfredson, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Robyn Slovo, Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER – Beginners
Plummer is not there to accept.
HUGO – Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo
OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER
TYRANNOSAUR – Paddy Considine (Director), Diarmid Scrimshaw (Producer)
FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
THE SKIN I LIVE IN – Pedro Almodóvar, Agustin Almodóvar
Fry introduces Anil Kapoor to present the foreign film award, notes Kapoor had a role in Mission: Impossible 4 and says personally he will keep asking for his money back each time he goes to see an M:I movie until they start calling them “Mission: Really Jolly Difficult, But Really Ultimately Highly Achievable”.
MAKE UP & HAIR
THE IRON LADY – Marese Langan
THE ARTIST – Mark Bridges
THE ARTIST – Guillaume Schiffman
Tom Hooper gives the award for cinematography to Michel Hazanavicius in Schiffman’s stead (he’s in LA). Hazanavicius says Schiffman didn’t give him anything to say but he’s sure if he’d been there “he would thank me”.
SENNA – Gregers Sall, Chris King
Win gets a huge reaction from the audience. Gregers Sall says he mostly wants to thank Aryton Senna for the opportunity to go racing with him for a year. Co-editor Chris King confesses he loathes Formula 1.
HUGO – Philip Stockton, Eugene Gearty, Tom Fleischman, John Midgley
THE ARTIST – Ludovic Bource
Ludovic Bource says, “I have no speech, Harvey I know you will shoot me.”
SHORT FILM ANIMATION
A MORNING STROLL – Grant Orchard, Sue Goffe
PITCH BLACK HEIST – John Maclean, Gerardine O’Flynn
The film starred Michael Fassbender.
SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 2 – Tim Burke, John Richardson, Greg Butler, David Vickery
Potter team speaker says” “I think we’re just really chuffed that we finally won one of these. We’ve been trying for a long time.”