With the BAFTA Film Awards fast approaching this Sunday, London is poised to start swinging into revelry from Friday through to the wee hours of Monday morning.
The party roster this year as compared to last is slightly different, but that shouldn’t dampen the spirit of the home stretch towards the Oscars on February 9 in what has been a very condensed season.
One of the biggest shifts is to see several studios with a horse in the races pull together to pull off a mega fête on Sunday night at Soho House. After the annual gala dinner that follows the BAFTA ceremony at Grosvenor House, no less than eOne, Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony and Universal will welcome winners, nominees and other guests scattered throughout the multi-tiered Georgian building on Greek Street. Their collective films include 1917, Knives Out, Bombshell, Rocketman, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Little Women, among others.
Warner Bros, whose Joker has the most BAFTA nominations at 11, is expected to hold an intimate gathering at Kettner’s around the corner just as it did last year. Netflix, again as was the case in 2019, will set up shop at the Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone to honor The Irishman, Marriage Story and The Two Popes, among others. Vogue, meanwhile, will host a do at private club Annabels on Berkley Square.
Before the ceremony rolls around on Sunday, there is plenty to occupy the industry. Tonight, legendary New York publicist Peggy Siegal co-hosts her annual dinner with James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, this time at the Dorchester Hotel’s 1930s Shanghai-inspired China Tang. Siegal has been a fixture on the BAFTA circuit for years, and in 2019 held her soirée at Spencer House, also with Broccoli. In the last year, however, she has been relatively AWOL on the awards circuit due to her past association with late disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein which cast a shadow over her business. She was, however, present at Telluride and Toronto. In Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue this month, Siegal talks about the situation, perhaps signaling an eye to a bigger return.
Fast forward to tomorrow (Friday) and AMPAS will host a cocktail in honor of this year’s Oscar nominees at The Biltmore in Mayfair. This is a venue change from 2019 when the event was held at Claridge’s. The inaugural get-together last year was very well-attended and is an opportunity for BAFTA nominees who are also up for Oscars to rub shoulders and be seen ahead of the Academy Awards ballot deadline on February 4. There is a great membership overlap between the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Though BAFTA held its Film Gala fundraiser on the Friday night in 2019, it is an every-two-years event and thus next takes place in 2021.
On Saturday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge again open Kensington Palace to BAFTA for the official nominees cocktail. This is the sixth year in a row that guests will mill about several upstairs rooms of the royal residence. Prince William is president of BAFTA and will also attend the ceremony Sunday night with his wife Catherine. They have never been spied at the cocktail party.
After exiting Kensington Palace, a certain cadre of folks will head to Charles Finch’s yearly exclusive dinner. It’s staying at 5 Hertford Street after moving there from Annabels in 2019.
Focus/Universal last year held a post-nominees get-together at the Chiltern Firehouse on the Saturday, but is sitting this year out. Here’s hoping they bring it back in 2021 — it was a fantastic evening the first time around.
And on Sunday, nominees will head to the red carpet at the Royal Albert Hall from around 6PM local time. Ther ceremony kicks off at 7PM with host Graham Norton who is essaying the BAFTA Film Awards emcee role for the first time. He’s an inspired choice given his BBC One chat show has become a must-stop for U.S. and UK stars to promote their projects.
Following the swift two-hour affair, it’s off to the giant ballroom at Grosvenor House to congratulate and/or commiserate before setting off to the group party at Soho House, or Netflix at the Chiltern, or WB, and/or to Vogue it up at Annabels.