The King’s Speech made history at last night’s British Academy Film Awards winning seven gongs including Best Film and Best Leading Actor for Colin Firth. It is the first film to win both Best Film and Outstanding British Film. Inception and The Social Network each picked up three awards and Alice in Wonderland with two gongs. It was for the most part an unsurprising evening with Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech taking home the majority of main awards. It has been an unprecedented success at the box office and is totally dominating awards ceremonies all around the world.
Hosted by Jonathan Ross at London’s Royal Opera House the period drama went in with 14 nominations and expectations were without question sky high for Colin Firth and Co to rule the evening. Colin Firth, upon accepting his award for the second time in as many years (Only Rod Steiger has achieved the same as Firth) joked, “I like coming here. Thank you Bafta.” Last night’s Bafta was Firth’s 26th award for his role as a stammering King George VI which is quite an incredible story that will surely lead him to Oscar glory come 27th February.
It also took best original screenplay, best score and supporting awards for Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter. Upon accepting the award for her portrayal of the Queen Mother, Bonham Carter in her lengthy acceptance speech thanked the royal family for her career and went on to say, “I seem to be playing queens with ever decreasing headsizes,” who also played the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland.
In the other major categories David Fincher was awarded Best Director for The Social Network – based around the founding of Facebook. Two of the actors Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield collected the award on his behalf. The film that is hotly tipped for Oscar glory also won Baftas for best adapted screenplay and best editor. The writer Aaron Sorkin from The West Wing fame declared, “Normally I'd be excited about this, but sitting in the seat in front of me was one of the Beatles.”
Natalie Portman continued her rich vein of form winning Best Leading Actress for her portrayal of a troubled ballerina in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan whom he accepted the award on her behalf praising her dedication to the role. Like Colin Firth, Portman is the favourite to pick up her first Academy Award. However it was a fairly disappointing night for the ballet psychological thriller being up for 12 nominations and receiving only the one Bafta.
Sci-Fi blockbuster Inception collected three technical prizes including Best Sound, Best Production Design and Special Visual Effects. Tom Hardy who appeared in Inception and low budget indie hit Bronson received the coveted Orange Rising Star Award voted by the general public. This year had strong contenders including Gemma Arterton, Aaron Johnson, Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield.
Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland won for Hair and Make-Up and Toy Story 3 surprised no-one winning for Best Animated Film. While The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo fully deserved it’s victory in the Best Foreign Film category.
Other films that disappointed during the ceremony included Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours that left empty handed and True Grit only receiving the Bafta for Cinematography. Other highlights included the Harry Potter franchise receiving the honour for Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema. Creator and author JK Rowling said seeing her books made into films had been, “One of the best experiences of my life.”
The final award of the night was awarded to Sir Christopher Lee for his overall contribution to film. The academy honoured him with the prestigious Fellowship, receiving a thoroughly deserved standing ovation as he took to the stage to collect the award from one of his numerous collaborators Tim Burton. His career has spanned over 60 years with defining and iconic performances as Count Dracula in the Hammer Horror movies, appearances in The Wicker Man, The Man With The Golden Gun and of course appearing in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In a touching and heartfelt speech the veteran actor said, “I’m glad I don’t follow in the footsteps of the great Stanley Kubrick, whose award was posthumous.”
Attention now is firmly set on the 83rd Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles on the 27th February. With various awards ceremonies in Britain and America leading to the biggest movie event on the calendar, it appears the battle will be between a stammering monarch and the creation of a website to reign champion at this year’s Oscars.
Written by Michael Cunneen