Awards season takes its annual sojourn to London this week for the EE British Academy Film Awards, the last big chance for nominees to rub shoulders and be seen ahead of Oscar ballots closing on February 17. With a 500-member overlap between BAFTA and AMPAS, there are plenty of hearts and minds to be won, and BAFTA’s increased importance in its own right ensures a roster of peripheral events bringing more glitz than ever before.
Among the notable happenings this year are Vanity Fair planting a BAFTA fête flag for the first time — in association with Working Title — while Prince William and wife Kate are lending Kensington Palace to the nominees cocktail on Saturday. Universal is also hosting a party and The Weinstein Co bash is one of the hottest post-show tickets on Sunday.
But the schmoozing already kicked off last night with BAFTA’s new Film Gala Dinner, in aid of its Give Something Back campaign for young talent. Similar to Oscar’s Night Before Party, the black-tie fundraiser played host to actors including Henry Cavill, Tom Hiddleston and Imelda Staunton. Well-heeled patrons of the arts bid on silent- and live-auction prizes that included a set visit to Downton Abbey and dinner for 12 with Damian Lewis, Helen McCrory and Colin & Livia Firth.
A private screening for 60 of Spectre, the James Bond film that is currently in production, to take place within 10 days of the world premiere, attracted a winning bid of £20,000 ($30,500) and set the night’s record, helping raise more than £250,000 ($381,000) for the cause.
Expect this to be another fixture on BAFTA’s blooming calendar; BAFTA’s chief executive Amanda Berry told Deadline it might become an annual or biannual event. “It gives us the opportunity to bring new people close to BAFTA and sends a very strong message about what BAFTA is doing over and above the awards ceremonies,” she noted.
International names start arriving in town on Friday night to soak up the party scene before Sunday’s ceremony. Lancome and Ealing Studios join forces at Café Royal to celebrate 15 years of the beauty brand’s association with the awards. Across town, Vanity Fair makes its first big move on BAFTA with a party held in association with Working Title, whose films The Theory Of Everything and Trash appear in the nominations list. And Harvey Weinstein will toast his nominees – The Imitation Game and Big Eyes this year – with a private dinner at Little House.
Saturday kicks off with a brunch at the Chiltern Firehouse thrown by Eric Fellner, Andre Belazs and Matthew Freud. Lunch is at the Savoy, where menswear brand Hackett will put on an intimate affair toasting the recipient of BAFTA’s most prestigious prize, the Fellowship. Mike Leigh, whose Mr. Turner scarcely troubled the vote in the main categories, will have that honor this year.
Saturday night marks a change of venue for BAFTA’s official Nominees’ Party, sponsored for the first time by Audi. The soiree has often taken place at Asprey, on Bond Street, but this year it heads to Kensington Palace, for what Berry suggests might be slightly more exclusive. “I was looking for a unique venue that other people couldn’t deliver but that BAFTA can,” she notes. The palace is the official residence of Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and BAFTA’s president. Charles Finch’s annual dinner at Annabel’s will take place immediately after that early-evening event wraps up.
On Sunday, expect the bar at the One Aldwych Hotel, a stone’s throw from the Royal Opera House, to be the unofficial pre-show watering hole for many BAFTA attendees. Stephen Fry hosts the main event, from which guests will decamp to the official dinner and afterparty at the Grosvenor House.
Universal will host a party for its nominees, including Boyhood, The Theory Of Everything and Trash, at Little House on the Sunday night. Fox, despite leading the nominations pack with The Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman, isn’t planning any of its own events for the Sunday night.
Perhaps its nominees will decamp to Sunday’s hot ticket, The Weinstein Company party, which is being co-hosted by StudioCanal and Entertainment – local distributors of TWC’s The Imitation Game and Big Eyes, respectively. EOne, which has Foxcatcher, Mr. Turner and Nightcrawler, also is involved.
A pair of tickets to the bash sponsored by Jimmy Choo and Grey Goose sold for £7,500 at Thursday night’s auction. Last year’s included a live performance by Rita Ora and the cast of 20 Feet from Stardom, who encouraged Oprah Winfrey onto the dance floor. So by the time dawn breaks on Monday morning, it’s a safe bet those auction winners will have had value for their money.