UPDATED WITH FULL LIST OF WINNERS AND REACTIONS: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave rallied from a slow stat to win the Best Film award tonight at the 62nd BAFTA Film Awards in London. The slave drama from Fox Searchlight had 10 nominations but won just two awards, after Chiwetel Ejiofor took the Leading Actor prize for playing Solomon Northup. Despite the marquee victory in the last major kudofest before the Oscars, it still seemed as though the night belonged to Warner Bros’ Gravity. The space drama picked up a leading six wins from its 11 overall nominations, including for Outstanding British Film — which will keep the debate going about just how British the pic is. Alfonso Cuaron won Best Director and the pic cleaned up in the craft categories, taking Sound, Cinematography and Special Visual Effects in addition to a nod for Steven Price’s Original Score. The BAFTA crowd at the packed Royal Opera House in Covent Garden exploded with each win for the movie, which had a leading 11 nominations going into the night.
Still, the 12 Years A Slave victory tonight maintains the film’s front-runner status going into the Oscars on March 2; the film also won the Golden Globe for Motion Picture-Drama. Many feel the Academy will lean the same way, honoring Gravity in the craft categories but not for the Best Picture. The two films have been going head to head all awards season, even scrapping to a rare tie in the PGA Awards contest. “It’s very important,” McQueen said backstage after the victory. “The way the public here — but not just here, in the U.S. — by going to see the picture, means a hell of a lot.” Added producer Brad Pitt: “This is an excuse for us to all get to gather and say job well done. We’re very proud of our work here, and it means a lot to us because of the people we got to work with.”
In the actor races, Ejiofor was joined by Blue Jasmine‘s Cate Blanchett as Leading winners, while Captain Phillips‘ Barkhad Abdi and American Hustle‘s Jennifer Lawrence won in the Supporting categories. It marked one of three wins for Hustle, which also scored for director David O Russell and Eric Warren Singer’s Original Screenplay and for Hair & Makeup. The Sony pic came into the night with 10 nominations.
Philomena won the Adapted Screenplay award for co-writers Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope. It was also in the running for Outstanding British Film — which Gravity won to lead off the show and portend its big night — Best Film and Leading Actress for Judi Dench.
After the ceremony, Cuaron addressed some criticism that Gravity, from a big U.S. studio, was eligible for that Outstanding British Film category — though it was produced by Britain’s David Heyman, shot at Pinewood and Shepperton Studios with a crew of local technicians, visual effects were handled by the UK’s Framestore, and Cuaron is a British resident. “I’m happy for all the recognition that all these great British artists had in this awards ceremony,” Cuaron said backstage. “I don’t need to set the record straight. There are rules that make a film eligible for Best British Film. Gravity definitely has all the requirements, except a couple of Mexicans that came here — legally! — and a couple of American stars. It was shot in this country, developed in this country, and with cutting-edge technology developed by British artists. Having said that, the real question about BAFTAs, is why it needs a definition for Best Film? Why does there need to be be Best British Film? It should be Best Film and Best Non-British Film.”
Among the other multiple winners tonight were The Great Gatsby‘s Catherine Martin winning for Costume Design and Production Design, making it a worthwhile trip for Warner Bros which also distributes Gravity. Disney’s Frozen solidified its status as Animated Feature front-runner with a BAFTA victory, as did Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act Of Killing from Drafthouse Films with its Documentary win.
Here’s how the event went down with myself and Joe Utichi on live-blog duty and Stephen Fry hosting for a ninth time:
Fry has hit the stage, saying the Royal Opera House filled with “faces so familiar, you want to lick them.” He praises Chewitel Ejiofor’s role in 12 Years A Slave, saying he found himself wishing it had been called 24 Years A Slave. “Is that wrong of me? I mean that in the best possible way if there is a good way for me to say that…” Fry asks Leonardo DiCaprio to blow a kiss to the camera as is custom; Leo obliges. Fry: “I shall never wash my eyes again.” He then refers to the Duke of Cambridge as Helen Mirren’s grandson (she’s up for the BAFTA Fellowship this year). He intros multiplatinum-selling English rapper Tinie Tempah and English soul singer Laura Mvula. Their opening duet is set to a montage from all the nominated movies.
Fry offers an advisory note we can all be thankful for: “When you are given a cup of tea, you don’t thank the kettle, the cup, the milk, the cow, the tea picker. … Award winners, I trust I make myself clear. The briefer you are the more we will love, reverence and adore you.”
He also introduces “Royal Oprah Winfrey” who is attending for the first time (she is nommed in Supporting Actress for Lee Daniels’ The Butler).
OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman, Jonás Cuarón
Gravity was expected to win this. It’s notable that Alfonso Cuaron said something in Spanish — there’s been controversy about the pic’s “Britishness” but it was super-qualified. Onstage, producer David Heyman says he has a cold “but this sure as hell is gonna make it better.” He adds: “We have the most incredible crew on this film.” He praises UK’s Framestore and the team that created the VFX — expect to hear from them later. He also thanks Warner Bros’ Sue Kroll and director Alfonso Cuaron.
BRITISH SHORT FILM
James W. Griffiths, Sophie Venner
BRITISH SHORT ANIMATION
SLEEPING WITH THE FISHES
James Walker, Sarah Woolner, Yousif Al-Khalifa
THE GREAT GATSBY
Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn
The newest Downton Abbey resident Richard E Grant and Olga Kurylenko presented this award, one of three for which Great Gatsby is up for tonight. This might have been expected, too: The wider membership now votes on all categories in Round 2, so usually the flashiest film wins. And they don’t get flashier than The Great Gatsby.
Glenn Freemantle, Skip Lievsay, Christopher Benstead, Niv Adiri, Chris Munro
It’s already a big night for Warner Bros: Two Gravity wins and Great Gatsby.
Dan Hanley, Mike Hill
Ron Howard is here to accept the award. The racing action drama wins over some heavy-hitters (Thelma Shoonmaker for Wolf Of Wall Street and Christopher Rouse for Captain Phillips included). It was one of the first movies this year on the BAFTA campaign trail, and it’s missing from some key categories, so this could be a sign there was love for the movie within the membership. ”Thank you BAFTA,” he said onstage. “I’m the director of the movie. The editors wanted me to make it clear they’d love to be here but I’ve got them locked to the Avids on the movie we’re doing now and they couldn’t make the flight (his next pic is The Heart Of The Sea). They felt this was most challening movie we’d ever undertaken.” Howard also thanks Peter Morgan for creating the project and screenplay and called Rush “an absolute labor of love.”
THE ACT OF KILLING
“The Act Of Killing is helping to catalyze a change about how Indonesia talks about its past,” Oppenheimer says onstage. He says the ”British and U.S. governments helped support the 1965 genocide and helped design it. We have to take collective responsibility for our role in these crimes.” He dedicated the award to his anonymous Indonesian crew. Backstage, Oppenheimer talked about those anonymous credits: “I dedicate this award to them. This film couldn’t be made without people who risked their safety and changed their careers to work on it. Professors, human rights leaders. … They stopped everything they were doing to work on the film, knowing they couldn’t take credit for their work.”
MAKE UP & HAIR
Evelyne Noraz, Lori McCoy-Bell
Behind The Candelabra seemed to have had a bit of an edge here, especially since it was a theatrical release in the U.K. unlike the U.S. But American Hustle has 10 noms tonight, so it’s well-liked. Noraz and McCoy-Bell thank their actors for “spending so much time in our trailer — three hours of rollers and three hours of combover.”
THE GREAT GATSBY
Backstage, Martin says that she read the book as a teenager but “just didn’t connect with the novel”. Baz (Luhrmann) was talking about it for years and years, and I was being recalcitrant about the whole thing.” He forced her to read it again, “Aand much to his irritation I ended up being the biggest advocate for making the movie.” Of her relationship with Lurhmann: “We fight all the time and recently we fought on Australian television when we were accepting an award. I’m from a family of scrappers. Our working life relationship is a conversation and sometimes that conversation has to be had in very loud voices. It’s even-stevens — sometimes I win, sometimes he wins.”
The room is exploding each time Gravity wins something. This is now three wins for the pic.
Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Frozen was the clear front-runner here, and this will just continue its momentum into the Oscars. It’s nearing $1 billion in worldwide box office for Disney. Buck and Lee say onsstage it took about 600 people to make the film, and Lee recalls “John Lasseter strutting down the hall flipping his hair around singing ‘Let It Go’.”
OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER
(Director-Writer) Kelly + Victor
Steve Coogan, a nominee for producing Philomena and co-writing the script, presents and says, “All of us at one time or another had to make our debut. Mine was about 25 years ago” Turning to Fry he says, “Yours was a little longer I think” But, it was a different time, “We were young turks, men about town with a pager on our belt, the worlds at our feet and a voice-over to go to…” he says to big laughs.
This award is bestowed via a 12-member jury vote. They see every film eligible, and it’s a months-long process. The tendency here is not always the obvious choice (ie Kelly Marcel was in the category for Saving Mr Banks). “It feels absolutely bloody amazing”. Evans says backstage. “I hope people will take notice a little bit more and I’ll knock on some doors that will remain open.”
BARKHAD ABDI, Captain Phillips
This catgeory was wide open with no love for Dallas Buyers Club at all. Abdi is a surprise, but not a huge one. If 12 Years A Slave’s Lupita Nyong’o takes Supporting Actress, that’s two debuts recognized — that doesn’t happen very often. Onstage, Abdi thanks BAFTA for the honor and director Paul Greengrass “for believing in me before I believed in myself” to much applause. He thanks Tom Hanks and the producers and “the other pirates in the film … my friends … we came from nothing and we got this!” Backstage, he says: “I’m in shock right now. It feels great. It’s good to be in London. They should hold more awards in London. It’s been amazing and I’m loving every moment of it. It’s quite a dream. There were almost 1000 people at the audition.” What it’s like onstage tonight? “There’s a lot of people!”
Cuaron accepts the prize and reads a message from Lubezki, who is on set shooting Last Days In The Desert With Ewan McGregor and Tye Sheridan. “Thanks to the British Academy for this award,” and thanks to his “friend and teacher Mr Cuaron.” Cuaron asides that Lubezki has “an ironic sense of humor.” He adds thanks to the cast, “Sandy for giving the film a soul and a beautiful face,” the “Framestore nerds” for all their VFX work, and producer David Heyman “for keeping us afloat.”
JENNIFER LAWRENCE, American Hustle
Lawrence is not here, so David O Russell does the honors accepting the award onstage. “She’s working — sorry not to be here. He thanks Annapurna, Megan Ellison, Sony, the producers, co-stars, writers and “the director, me, David O Russell.”
Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award
Juliet Stevenson presented to the British director. She made her film debut in his Drowning By Numbers. Greenaway, who originally trained as a painter, is known for his exploration of the cinematic medium, eroticism and death, and for his ability to integrate Renaissance art into his work. Among his credits are classic 1989 pic The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, The Pillow Book, 8 ½ Women and The Tulse Luper Suitcase movies. His next film is Eisenstein In Guanajuato. Greenaway said onstage, “I would like to imagine this as an encouragement to me and to people who believe that cinema must continue to be reinvented.” Backstage, he added: “I think I have relished the idea of being an outsider, but it has its downside: It means you get ignored. It’s really surprising that a conformist institution like BAFTA should welcome me into their midst.” (He made that sound more optimistic than it looks, FYI.)
Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell
It was always likely that Original Screenplay would divert from Gravity. American Hustle has picked up more momentum tonight than we might have predicted. Side note: This category diverted from the Oscars in that Spike Jonze’s Her wasn’t nominated, so it didn’t have a chance to continue its momentum from the WGA and other wins this season.
Backstage, Russell commented on writing for the specific actors: “I feel they’re my partners. It makes the process concrete [to have them cast while writing]. I took what Eric did and do what I do: craft it for these actors and say, ‘Will you take this risk for me’?” He adds: ”It’s a great challenge for five major roles. It’s an elaborate tapestry that takes a lot of care. Because I personally feel responsible to each actor, I can do the hard work. I can do that for two or three people, but this is the biggest picture I worked on.”
Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope
Is it us or is the absence of 12 Years A Slave now really being felt? It seemed to be the front-runner here but so far it’s been shut out. Backstage, Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope tag-teamed with the press. “I’ve got a couple of TV BAFTAs, but I feel this is the greatest achievement,” Pope says. “It’s the top point of my career to date.” Said Coogan: “Good job you met me, then… This is the most exciting BAFTA I’ve ever won. It’s something different I was trying to do: an exercise in sincerity.”
Coogan: “It’s important to note that there was artistic licence taken. Judi [Dench] ’s closer to the real Philomena Lee than I am to Martin Sixsmith. I used Martin as a springboard for my own thoughts on Catholicism, for example. But Martin was accepting of that and supportive. He knew that would help the tension between Philomena and Martin. In real-life they weren’t at each other’s throats as they are in the film.”
EE RISING STAR
This is the category voted on by the UK public. Poulter put on a great Twitter campaign and was hot from We’re The Millers, so he always had a slight edge in what was a more even field this year. Backstage, Poulter admitted that “my speech is still in my pocket. I didn’t have the nerve to bring it out [in his acceptance speech onstage] and talked about Finding Nemo for some reason.” He added: “Mum said, ‘Well done Fatty,’ which is a joke we have that comes from watching Little Britain. That was the best thing she could have said!”
The BAFTA In Memoriam tribute going on now includes such recent losses as Shirley Temple Black, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Maximilian Schell as well as Saul Zaentz, Eileen Brennan, Ray Harryhausen, Esther Williams, Jean Kent, Gerry Hambling, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Eleanor Parker, Bryan Forbes, Run Run Shaw, Paul Walker, Deanna Durbin, Antonia Bird and Peter O’Toole.
SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, Neil Corbould, Nikki Penny
This was surely BAFTA’s biggest lock going into the evening. That Warner Bros party is going to be a riotous affair — especially if Gravity takes Best Film which would be two years in a row for WB (after Argo last year). Onstage, Tim Webber says, “It felt like a very long time waiting for this to come.” He also gives yet another shout-out to Framestore “for their incredible talent and incredible dedication.” Backstage, he added: “Initially it felt like a challenging film, but actually a few weeks into thinking about it more we realized it was more than just challenging: it was a massive leap forward and we’d have to invent new techniques and ways of doing it.”
FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
THE GREAT BEAUTY
Paolo Sorrentino, Nicola Giuliano, Francesca Cima
This is also nominated for an Oscar, but its Academy Awards competitor The Hunt was not nominated here. Onstage, Paulo Sorrentino thanks the actors and crew and family and says, “I would love to dedicate this award to a great Italian director Carlo Mazzacurati.” Mazzacurati recently passed away at age 57 after a long illness. Backstage, the director said: “I am very full of emotion. For me it’s a very important award and it was many many years Italian cinema didn’t win this award. It’s very important for Italian cinema.” He said the Italian film community is “not so much united, but an award like this can contribute to tying us more together.”
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR, 12 Years A Slave
When his name is called, fellow nominee DiCaprio stands in the audience, and Tom Hanks whistles. Onstage, Ejiofor says, “Wow, wow, wow. Thank you for this BAFTA. I am so deeply honored and privileged to receive it.” He thanks director Steve Mcqueen. “Thank you sir for your work, your artistry, your passion in this project. You brought us all through it…. This is yours by the way. I know that and you know that — I’m gonna keep it, that’s the kind of guy I am, but its yours.” He thanks New Regency, Fox Searchlight, EOne, Plan B, and River Road, then Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, and “Thank you Michael Fassbender, you are a marvel.” He then thanks his family and “My neice and nephew who are brand new. We will endeavor to make a world you are proud of.”
Backstage, he continued: “I’ve known Steve for a while, and we’d spoken the first time after he’d done Hunger. I went out to see him in Amsterdam to talk about films and life and the idea of working together on something. Several years later he sent me this script and I thought it was an extraordinary story of an incredible man. I’d never seen a story before from inside the slave experience. I was intimidated by that fact and I was struck with a self-dour about it actually. Didn’t want to be at the center of something that was so unique and somehow not be the right guy for it. Steve sensed my hesitation. What turned it around for me was reading Solomon’s autobiography. I realised was thinking with the wrong side of my head. It was about connecting to Solomon and not worrying about the wider sense of it.”
“It’s an incredible feeling. I’ve been acting for a while and was here before — I’ve presented and was nominated for Rising Star. I’ve always been thrilled and excited by BAFTA and what it means in the film industry. To be here in London with so many of my peers and friends and for them to recognize me in this way is a great and deep honor.”
ALFONSO CUARON, Gravity
“You cannot tell from my accent, but I consider myself part of the British film industry,” Cuaron said onstage. “I have lived in London for 13 years and done almost half of my movies here. I make a very good case for curbing immigration,” he adds to laughs and applause. “This means a lot to me because it’s this community.” He notes that some categories are seen as upstairs and downstairs. “Some categories are defined as artistic and others as technical. I want to share this with all the artists that live downstairs.” After another shout-out for VFX house Framestore, he thanks Warners and Kroll and “friend and partner” producer David Heyman. And also “a couple of guys: Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, because I can’t order breakfast without asking their advice.”
CATE BLANCHETT, Blue Jasmine
It’s official: Even if Best Film goes to 12 Years A Slave, what a deflation for that film tonight.
After Blanchett arrived onstage, she said: “I was siting in Row G. I thought that was a sign I wouldn’t be getting up here.” She was out of breath from coming down. “God, I’m unfit.” She called Blue Jasmine an extraordinary experience and dedicated her award to Philip Seymour Hoffman, “a continual, profound touchstone for me” which drew heavy applause. “Phil, your monumental talent, generosity and unflinching quest for truth in art and life will be missed by so many people. You raised the bar continually so very, very high and all we can do in your absence is try to continually raise the bar. Phil, buddy, this is for you, you bastard. I hope you’re proud.”
Meanwhile, backstage, Blachett was late in arriving because “I had to take my gum out.” She said: “Tonight isn’t a celebration of celebrity, it’s a celebration of people who ‘do’ things, and I like to think I’m a person who ‘does’ things.” She also continued about Hoffman: “I don’t think I’m alone in the room having been profoundly influence by Phil and his body of work, but also who he was as a person. He was a friend to many people and time will tell how deep his influence was. If I could be half the actor he was in his unfortunately short life I’d be very happy.”
12 YEARS A SLAVE
Anthony Katagas, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen
It’s quite the consolation prize for 12 Years A Slave – but with just two wins from 10 nominations, it was hard to see such a poor performance coming. It still feels like Gravity has won the evening, and how often does that happen when it doesn’t win Best Film? Director-producer Steve McQueen thanks BAFTA and his cinematographer Sean Bobbitt, Lupita Nyong’o (“A star is born”), Michael Fassbender (“the genius”) and “the one and only Chewetel for your humanity in this film.” He also thanks eOne, Brad Pitt, New Regencey, Channel 4′s Tessa Ross, Patrick Wachsberger at Lionsgtate and Fox searchlight. “There are 21 million people in slavery as we sit here,” he says. “I just hope that 150 years from now our ambivalence will not allow another filmmaker to make this film.”
Jeremy Irons and Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, introduce Mirren for the honor. William calls her “an extremely talented British actress whom I should probably call ‘Granny’ referring to her award-winning turn in The Queen. Mirren blows her husband Taylor Hackford a kiss — he’s not here tonight. “My journey to this place began with a great teacher, Alyce Welding, who died just two weeks ago at age 102. She revealed the power of literature to Mirren and “recognized my need to live in that world of imagination… She alone encouraged me to be an actor.” She asked the audience, “How many of you remember a great teacher who opened the gate to lead you here?” A bunch of hands go up. “That’s a lot of teachers so let’s right now thank those teachers.” She then thanks “the carnival of characters that make up the brilliant army that marches into battle on any film.” “Thank all of you in my past, it’s been an amazing journey up to now.”
She then quoted Shakespeare’s The Tempest speech “Our Revels Are Now Ended.” It closes:
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
Mirren adds, “My little life is rounded with this honor.”
After heading backstage, Mirren joked that she was “almost speechless, but not quite. I did manage to make a speech.” She added: “[Fellow winner] Peter [Greenaway] said to me, ‘Can you believe it? Us?’ It felt like there’s been a sea change.” She mentions Welding again, as “the only person who gave me any encouragement whatsoever. She was the only one who recognized what I wanted to be and guided me to the National Youth Theater. Only people with money can go into the acting profession, so National Youth Theater is incredibly important.”