By Chezelle Bingham, Film & Television Subeditor
After two years of largely remote ceremonies, the UK’s biggest night for film has made a real return, and with some of the world’s most iconic film stars and filmmakers flocking to the Royal Albert Hall to honour the best pictures of the past year. Last night’s BAFTAs saw Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog take home several of the biggest awards of the show.
Rebel Wilson made her return as the oddly entertaining hostess of the night, whose opening monologue appropriately asked “Why is Rebel Wilson hosting the BAFTAs? Isn’t she Australian?”. With a selection of controversial but humorously relevant jokes like giving the middle finger to Vladimir Putin and somehow casually bringing up Prince Andrew, Wilson was joined by presenters Florence Pugh, RuPaul and the always show-stopping Leading Actress Nominee Lady Gaga amongst others.
The show opened with a performance from Dame Shirley Bassey, who performed ‘Diamonds are Forever’ in honour of the 60 anniversary of James Bond who, after decades of shooting bad guys and ordering martinis, is starting to get a bit old. Nonetheless, Bassey’s rendition of the song was elegant, powerful, and a splendid way to open the 75th BAFTAs.
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, who led the field with the most nominations, was the first winner of the night, and ended up taking home a grand total of five awards: Cinematography, Production Design, Sound, Special Visual Effects and Original Score. Unfortunately, though, it missed out on Costume Design, an award that Robert Morgan and Jacqueline West deserved solely for their creation of Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson)’s gorgeous yellow Arrakis dress.
The awards for Best Director and the all-important Best Film both went to female director Jane Campion’s Psychological Western The Power of the Dog, which beat out Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical Belfast and Adam McKay’s fan favourite Don’t Look Up in a rather unsurprising fashion, making it the likely favourite to win at the Oscars in a fortnight.
The awards for Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay went to Licorice Pizza and Coda respectively, with the former starring musician Alana Haim, who went on stage to accept the award with composer Jonny Greenwood, and the latter starring deaf actors Troy Kotsur and Marlee Matlin. Kotsur went on to win the award for Supporting Actor, making him the first deaf actor to win a BAFTA and called for a “deaf James Bond” during his acceptance speech.
Ariana DeBose took home the award for Supporting Actress for her debut screen role in Steven Spielberg’s rendition of West Side Story, a role for which she has already received a Golden Globe, a Screen Actor’s Guild and a Critics’ Choice, making her the expected winner for this year’s Oscar. DeBose was in clear shock as she poignantly gave thanks to her casting director for believing in her.
The show was broken up by Rebel Wilson’s comic interludes, which at times fell a little flat but were largely charming. At one point, she brought out a cake in the shape of Benedict Cumberbatch’s face that she claimed she “needed for later”, and at another point she invited us all to an afterparty at 10 Downing Street. Hosting the BAFTAs is a difficult job and Wilson’s performance was satisfactory. After all, at least she’s not James Corden.
Lashana Lynch, who we all know as Carol Danvers’ best friend Maria Rambeau in Captain Marvel (2019) and as new “00” agent Nomi in No Time To Die, was presented with the EE Rising Star Award by last year’s winner Bukky Bakray. Though Lynch’s face is likely already familiar to most of us, the award cements her brilliance and articulates her as someone to keep an eye on in the coming years.
The award for Leading Actor went to Will Smith for his emotional performance as Serena and Venus Williams’ father Richard Williams in biographical drama King Richard. With Salma Hayek hilariously initially presenting the award to “the sandworm from Dune”, Smith beat out the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Mahershala Ali. Despite his win, Smith was absent from the ceremony and his award was instead accepted by director Reinaldo Marcus Green, who thanked the Williams family on Smith’s behalf.
While the Leading Actor award was presented to a member of Hollywood royalty, the Leading Actress award was, rather surprisingly, won by underdog Joanna Scanlan for her performance as grieving widow Mary in After Love. Scanlan was in clear shock as she went on stage to accept her award and was applauded by competitors Alana Haim, Lady Gaga and Emilia Jones as she thanked Aleem Khan for his direction.
The award for Animated Film of course went to Disney’s Encanto, with composer Germaine Franco emotionally announcing that she wanted the film to tell her “beautiful brown children that their stories are seen and heard”, and Ryusuke Hamaguchi won the award for Film in a Foreign Language for his short-story adaptation Drive My Car.
The award for Makeup and Hair went to Michael Showalter’s The Eyes of Tammy Fae, a film that was arguably snubbed in the Leading Actress category for Jessica Chastain’s performance as the legendary evangelist Tammy Faye Bakker, despite the Oscar’s recognition of Chastain in the same category and her win last night at the Critics’ Choice awards.
With the Oscars only a stone throw away, we must wonder whether the BAFTAs have paved the way for our favourite films and film stars. Will The Power of The Dog once again beat out Belfast? Will Andrew Garfield slide the Oscar from under Will Smith’s nose? Will Jane Campion become the third ever woman to win the Best Director award?
All I know is that I’ll be watching with popcorn at 4am on March 28th to see whether Jessica Chastain will be able to kick Kristen Stewart’s debatable portrayal of Princess Diana to the curb with her third Oscar nomination, and I hope you will too!
Featured Image: BBC
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