It Was Another Virtual Affair
The 2021 EE British Academy Film Awards, presented over two ceremonies this weekend, celebrated the very best in film of the past year. Sunday’s ceremony, hosted by Edith Bowman and Dermot O’Leary, was held in an empty Royal Albert Hall with nominees attending virtually. The show included three featured musical performances by Liam Payne, Celeste, and Leslie Odom Jr and Corinne Bailey Rae. On Saturday, the ‘Opening Night’ ceremony was hosted Clara Amfo, who was joined by guests Rhianna Dhillon and Joanna Scanlan. The programme gave audiences an in-depth insight into the filmmaking process, and the winners in eight categories were revealed.
Nomadland Was The Big Winner
Nomadland – which, like many of the nominees, is not yet available to watch in the UK – won four Baftas: Best Film, Best Director for Chloé Zhao, Leading Actress for Frances McDormand and Cinematography for Joshua James Richards. The film focuses on the life of ageing van-dwellers in America, and Zhao’s win makes her only the second woman – following Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2010 – to pick up the award.
Sir Anthony Hopkins Made History
Dementia drama The Father won two awards: Leading Actor for Sir Anthony Hopkins, and Adapted Screenplay for Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller. With his win, Hopkins, 83, has become the oldest-ever male acting winner, beating favourite Chadwick Boseman, who had been expected to win posthumously for his role in Netflix hit Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Elsewhere, the Supporting Actress award was given to Yuh-Jung Youn for Minari, a film that sees a Korean-American family move to an Arkansas farm in search of their own American dream. In her acceptance speech, the veteran South Korean star offered her condolences to the UK for the death of the Duke of Edinburgh and said she was thankful for the win, because everyone knows Brits are “very snobbish” – gaining laughs as she went.
There Were Some Surprising Snubs
Mank, which currently leads the Oscars race with 10 nominations, picked up just one award, for Production Design. And The Trial of the Chicago 7, News of the World and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm all went home empty-handed, despite picking up gongs at the Golden Globes last month.
Elsewhere, Supporting Actor was won by Daniel Kaluuya for his performance of Chairman Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah – his third win of the season, after winning big at the SAG Awards and Golden Globes. Promising Young Woman won two awards: Outstanding British Film, and Original Screenplay for Emerald Fennell, who accepted her award eating a chocolate Bafta in a hotel room. Disney hit Soul won Animated Film and Best Original Score; Another Round won Film Not in the English Language; Sound of Metal won Editing and Sound; Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom won Costume Design and Make Up & Hair; My Octopus Teacher won Best Documentary; Rocks won Casting; and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet won Special Visual Effects. The Special Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema was presented to filmmaker Noel Clarke, the man behind Kidulthood. And The Fellowship – the highest honour the Academy can bestow – was introduced by Hugh Grant and presented to Sense and Sensibility director Ang Lee.
Diversity Was Tackled
The shortlists for this year’s Baftas were the most inclusive in the organisation’s history, with 16 of the 24 acting nominees people of colour. By contrast, in 2020 they were all white. Last year, Joaquin Phoenix used his Best Actor acceptance speech for Joker to call out the “systemic racism” in the industry, while Bafta president Prince William also used his speech to highlight a lack of diversity. “In 2020, and not for the first time in the last few years, we find ourselves talking again about the need to do more to ensure diversity in the sector and in the awards process – that simply cannot be right in this day and age," he said.
The 2021 nominees were a result of 120 radical changes introduced in the wake of last year’s ceremony. We were pleased to see the EE Rising Star Award – voted for by the public – go to 19-year-old Bukky Bakray, who played the lead in London-based drama Rocks. “I don't know how to articulate my feelings,” she told reporters after her win. “I thought 100 people would watch the film, max. I didn't think it would have this reach.”
Prince Philip Was Honoured
This year’s Baftas were set to include a speech by Prince William about the resilience of the film industry. But following the death of his grandfather, Prince Philip, on Friday, the Duke of Cambridge pulled out of the ceremony. However, the night began with a moving tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh.
All Eyes Are Now On The Oscars…
While the Baftas are big news – especially for us Brits – the Oscars are the awards everyone gets most excited by. It’s worth noting that the last six films to win Best Film at the Baftas did not go on to win best Picture at the Oscars – which means that if the pattern continues, Nomadland will end its winning streak. We’ll have to see what the Academy Awards ceremony has in store in two weeks’ time…