Last Sunday was time again to celebrate not only the past year in film, but also the people who made it happen and those among them we lost this year. The BAFTAs 2014 saw Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle emerge as the big winners of the night.
I did something I don’t normally do when I view awards ceremonies, and that is watch the red carpet coverage. Honestly, you’re never missing much that the awards themselves don’t cover in the terms of dresses and general chit chat; however one thing that isn’t present inside the Royal Opera House is the deafening screams of star struck fans in their desperation to get an autograph. So much so that Oprah Winfrey said of her first time at the BAFTAs “I thought it would be very British and Subdued.. NO!” At least the weather held up, which is often the most unpredictably British part of the awards, and thankfully for the A-listers and their hairdos, it didn’t rain this year.
Film awards can be very hit and miss. It not only depends the films, the stars, but also the most important point of all, the host. National treasure Stephen Fry is always an utter delight and last year he hosted the BAFTAs with characteristic wisdom and wit. This year however saw a more nervous, more subdued Fry. His jokes kept a level of slight playfulness, but stayed safe enough not to upset anyone, including the opening line “I find myself humbled, honoured and – in the best sense of the word – paid to be here.” Fry continued the joyous jokes by asking Leonardo Dicaprio to continue a BAFTA tradition and blow a kiss to the camera in his explanation that “we drew lots until your name came out, what are the odds of that?”
Onwards with the night, and we saw a film and music montage from Tinie Tempah and Laura Mvula with clips from the past year of films which reminded me of some fantastic films overlooked in the nominations. The performance was a little odd, and the response from the crowd seemed to reflect that; news of Tinnie’s high five with Prince William erupted on twitter not long after. Fry jumped in just before the announcements to address what can be one of the most painful elements of these ceremonies, in the most British way possible, by saying that when you say thank you after receiving a cup of tea “you don’t thank the kettle, the cup, the milk, the cow, the tea picker.”
The night saw Alfonso Cuaron’s space thriller Gravity bag several awards, including Best Director and Outstanding British Film, which makes one wonder what actually constitutes a British production: is it just based on where the thing is filmed? Gravity also went on to win Best Sound, an award accepted with a cheeky “there is no sound in space, but there you go.” Universally acclaimed 12 Years a Slave was another close contender, winning both Best Picture and Best Actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor. However, the award I was most interested in was The EE Rising Star Award, partially voted for by the public. Dane DeHaan, George MacKay, Lupita Nyong’o and Léa Seydoux were all fantastic nominations, but the award was deservingly won by Will Poulter of Son of Rambow and We’re the Millers fame, who gave a very heartfelt speech. A few other inspiring acceptance speeches that should be noted include Cate Blanchett’s after picking up her award for Leading Actress in Blue Jasmine. In a gracious and touching manner, she dedicated her award to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Last but not least came Dame Helen Mirren who picked up this year’s Fellowship award and gave a thoughtful speech about remembering those who inspired you and, in doing so, thanking them.
Through award ceremonies we remember the films of that year, give praise to exceptional films and remember those in the industry whom the world has lost. It is a celebration of all things film and those who are a part of it as both makers and viewers, something that will hopefully go on to inspire future film makers.