When Samuel L. Jackson took the stage Sunday night to present the BAFTA for Best Film, it might not have been a surprise that he thought half of Hollywood was in attendance. The British version of the Academy Awards took place two weeks before the Oscars and it’s become one of the most reliable bellwethers for what’s going to win Best Picture in Beverly Hills.
As Jackson announced that Ben Affleck’s Argo had won, it continued the movie’s seemingly unstoppable march toward Oscar glory on Feb. 24. Fans of the film should know that for the past four years, the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) winner of Best Film has gone on to repeat the trick at the Oscars: Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker, The King’s Speech and The Artist.
Affleck said that the award was a “wonderful, warm surprise,” but ever since the 40-year-old was snubbed of a Best Director nomination at the Oscars, his film, which recounts how six American diplomats in Iran managed to escape during the hostage crisis of 1979, has been on a tear, picking up the likes of Best Motion Picture – Drama at the Golden Globes, Best Picture at the Producers Guild of America, Outstanding Performance by a Cast at the Screen Actors Guild and Affleck was awarded Best Director by the Directors Guild of America.
Affleck was similarly rewarded at the 65th BAFTAs in the directing category, beating out formidable peers such as Kathryn Bigelow, Michael Haneke, Ang Lee and Quentin Tarantino (only Haneke and Lee made the short list for the BAFTAs and Oscars). Affleck’s acceptance speech was not only full of charm but alluded to his, at times, rollercoaster ride in the business. “This is a second act for me and you have given me that, this industry has given me that,” he said. “I’m so grateful and proud, and I dedicate this to anyone else out there trying to get their second act.”
Argo won three BAFTAs in total — William Goldenberg was recognized for editing — but not even this juggernaut of a picture could win Best British Film. The odds-on favorite in the opinion of British bookmakers was Hooper’s Les Misérables but, in a minor shock, it lost out to the global box office smash that is the James Bond film, Skyfall. The BAFTAs have never really recognized the Bond franchise when it comes to serious accolades — director Sam Mendes said Sunday that the fact Daniel Craig hadn’t been nominated was due to “the curse of Bond” — and this was the first major award since 1963, when it picked up Cinematography for From Russia With Love. Mendes was more magnanimous in his acceptance speech for Best British Film, going so far as to dedicate it to the 1,292 people who worked on the movie. But Les Misérables still took home the most gongs on the night, winning for Hair and Makeup, Production Design, Sound and Best Supporting Actress. BAFTA shared the love around, rewarding Life of Pi for Cinematography and Special Visual Effects, Quentin Tarantino for Best Original Screenplay for Django Unchained and Silver Linings Playbook for Adapted Screenplay. BAFTAs highest accolade, the Fellowship, went to the director Sir Alan Parker, who won his first BAFTA back in 1975 for Bugsy Malone.
Oscar watchers will have picked up on the fact that the Supporting Actor and Actress categories at the BAFTAs were won by Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) and Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), who may well be beginning to write their Feb. 24 acceptance speeches as momentum seems to be with them. But if there was going to be a sure thing at the ceremony at London’s Royal Opera House, it was home favorite Daniel Day-Lewis picking up his fourth BAFTA as Leading Actor for portraying the eponymous U.S. President in Lincoln. Up until now this awards season, Actress has usually proved to be a toss up between Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) and Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty). While both were in attendance, BAFTA decided to honor someone who wasn’t in the room: Emmanuelle Riva, for Amour (which also won Film Not in the English Language). Riva will turn 86-years-old on Oscar night and a statue on Feb. 24 would be some birthday present.
Speaking of celebrating, Ben Affleck may now dare to dream of Argo being announced as the Best Picture winner at the Oscars. If it proves to be the case, the “second act” he so movingly spoke about at the BAFTAs will be complete.
Full List of Winners
“Argo,” Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Ben Affleck, “Argo”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”
Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”
Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”
Outstanding British Film
“Skyfall,” Sam Mendes, Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan
Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
Bart Layton (Director), Dimitri Doganis (Producer), “The Imposter”
“Searching for Sugar Man,” Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn
“Django Unchained,” Quentin Tarantino
“Silver Linings Playbook,” David O. Russell
Film Not in the English Language
“Amour,” Michael Haneke, Margaret Menegoz
“Brave,” Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
“Skyfall,” Thomas Newman
“Life of Pi,” Claudio Miranda
“Argo,” William Goldenberg
“Les Miserables,” Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson
“Anna Karenina,” Jacqueline Durran
“Les Miserables,” Simon Hayes, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Jonathan Allen, Lee Walpole, John Warhurst
Makeup & Hair
“Les Miserables,” Lisa Westcott
Special Visual Effects
“Life of Pi,” Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, Donald R. Elliott
“The Making of Longbird,” Will Anderson, Ainslie Henderson
“Swimmer,” Lynne Ramsay, Peter Carlton, Diarmid Scrimshaw
EE Rising Star (Audience Award)
Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema