Sunday night saw Britain take the spotlight away from the typically America centric awards season as the 69th annual British Academy Film Awards took place at the Royal Opera House in London. If truth be told the BAFTAs are usually somewhat of a dull affair they lack the flair and prestigiousness of contemporaries such as the Academy Awards or even the Golden Globes, however they’re still a milestone on the pathway to Oscar night and there were still a few talking points contained within the two hour show.
Steven Fry was on hosting duty for the eleventh time and honestly though he may be considered a national treasure by some it’s really time for the BAFTAs to find a new host. Other award shows have experimented with younger/riskier hosts and though it doesn’t always work out, James Franco’s and Anna Hathway’s miserable job of hosting the Oscars will forever be burnt into my memory, it does give the show somewhat of an edge. The BAFTAs can often be accused of being a tad pompous and sleepy with Fry’s tendency to speak essentially verbal jargon only adding to this, which isn’t exactly helping to pull in the younger crowd (which will undoubtedly be worrying the producers as the show pulled in its lowest viewing figures in six years).
The host was involved in the biggest talking point of the night however, after he referred to costume designer Jenny Beavan as being “dressed as a bag lady”. Beavan had just collected her gong for Best Costume Design for Mad Max: Fury Road when Fry quipped about her attire as she left the stage. The remarked caused a small outrage on social media and caused Fry to delete his twitter after claiming “I want to leave the planet”. Frankly in my opinion the “joke” was in poor taste and seemed very mean spirited, though Beavan is said to have taken the jab with good grace.
Mad Max: Fury Road cleaned up nicely in the technical categories, as it has been doing all awards season, though Star Wars: The Force Awakens surprisingly took home Best Visual Effects. Inside Out won Best Animated Feature to the shock of literally nobody, though Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa not even being nominated was disappointing as its lightyears ahead of Pixar’s effort. The EE Rising Star Award, which is voted on by the public, was handed out to John Boyega for his huge amount of work in 2015, and by huge amount of work I mean the one film he featured in Star War: The Force Awakens, damn you fanboys!
The BAFTAs always honour British films with two awards Outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer. Brooklyn wining the former and Naji Abu Nowar and Rupert Lloyd scooping the later for their film Theeb. The screenplay awards were handed out to Spotlight for Best Original Screenplay and The Big Short for Best Adapted Screenplay respectively.
The acceptance speeches were on the whole rather bland this year, nobody even used the stage as a platform for political activism which is always an awkward highlight when it occurs. Rebel Wilson gave the show a little bit of humour as she announced the winner for Best Supporting Actor (Which Mark Rylance won for Bridge of Spies) with a deadpan speech referencing the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and claiming she’d “been practising her transgender face”, in reference to The Danish Girl.
Best Supporting Actress went to Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs, and Brie Larson continued her sweep of the Best Actress category for her remarkable turn in Room, she’s a complete lock for Oscar glory at this point. Leonardo DiCaprio was awarded Best Actor for The Revenant, if he doesn’t win the big, and in his case elusive, one this year then I don’t think it’ll ever happen for him, surely this is finally his year?
George Miller, who directed Mad Max: Fury Road, wasn’t nominated for Best Director here which meant the award was always going to go to Alejandro G. Iñárritu for the powerful and utterly beautiful The Revenant. Iñárritu’s flawed masterpiece also took home the big prize of the evening in the form of Best Film, a worthy winner though I’d have liked to see Spotlight take it purely because of the important message of that film (plus it’s an engrossing watch to boot).
Cinematic legend Sidney Poitier was awarded the Academy Fellowship prize, his daughter was the one to give it to him as well which was a nice moment. That about covers the BAFTAs for 2016, sure it wasn’t a thrilling show (unfortunately it never is) but it was another reminder of how many excellent films were released in 2015, now bring on the Oscars!