Nida Faraz Describes a Singular Ceremony
This year’s BAFTA awards feted the most powerful of films The Power of the Dog in which Benedict Cumberbatch wonderfully played the central role with this western taking home best film and best director for Jane Campion, standing it in good stead ahead of the Oscars at the end of this month. Jane Campion’s slow-burn western earned widespread accolades. Best actress was awarded to Joanna Scanlan, the veteran Welsh star on stage and small screen for her astonishing performance as a bereaved Muslim convert in Aleem Khan’s debut, After Love.
Dune, Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi extravaganza starring Timothée Chalamet, took the most awards of the night – five – sweeping the board in the technical categories including cinematography, production design, visual effects, and sound. Kenneth Branagh won outstanding British film for his autobiographical drama, Belfast. Sunday night’s event was a confident return to real-life razzmatazz for the Baftas, presented with brio to a receptive, full-capacity crowd at the Albert Hall. An 85-year-old Shirley Bassey opened proceedings with a performance of Diamonds Are Forever to mark 60 years since Dr. No, which set the tone for an excitable and ebullient ceremony.
There were scant references to the pandemic and only fleeting mentions of the invasion of Ukraine, including a dig at Home Secretary Priti Patel’s immigrant policy from Andy Serkis, as well as from host Rebel Wilson. She also made reference to disgraced actor Armie Hammer, the open marriage of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, the lockdown parties at Downing Street, and JK Rowling’s contributions to the transgender debate. Prince Andrew’s evening at Pizza Express in Woking also merited a mention, as did Oprah Winfrey’s TV interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the drama and tension of which Wilson praised. Prince William, the president of Bafta, did not attend the ceremony due to diary constraints but did make an appearance by video link in which he expressed his pride in Bafta’s mentoring scheme, Breakthrough.
Troy Kotsur became the first deaf actor to win a Bafta for his role in the family drama Coda, pushing him into pole position at the Oscars. Kotsur is the second-ever deaf actor to be nominated for an Academy Award after his Coda co-star Marlee Matlin, who won 35 years ago. The film also took the best-adapted screenplay. The supporting actress went to Ariana DeBose, whose turn in West Side Story was her screen debut. DeBose paid tribute to the film’s casting director, Cindy Tolan, who earlier in the evening triumphed in her category. Tolan noted that Steven Spielberg’s update of the musical was the first film for 50 members of its cast, selected from some 30,000 hopefuls.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Encanto was named best animation. Paul Thomas Anderson was a surprise winner in the original screenplay category for his coming-of-age comedy-drama Licorice Pizza. The film’s star Alana Haim and composer Jonny Greenwood picked up the prize in his absence. Ryusuke Hamaguchi won the award for best film in a foreign language for Drive My Car, his epic road movie based on the Haruki Murakami short story. The film is seen as a successor to the likes of Parasite in moving from acclaim at Cannes, where it took three prizes, to a substantial showing at the Oscars, where it is up for four awards including best picture and best director. It is the first Japanese film up for the former while Hamaguchi is only the country’s third-ever director nominated – and the first since Akira Kurosawa in 1985.
The awards were decided by the 7,000 members of the British Film Academy, which has undergone a considerable behind-the-scenes overhaul since the backlash to the lack of diversity in its shortlists two years ago. A raft of 220 new rules and regulations were brought in, including quotas for filmmakers and the compulsory viewing by voters of at least 15 randomly selected titles in contention. Such measures were credited with this year’s notably wide-ranging set of nominees. TW