'Vera Drake' takes lead actress, director

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LONDON — “The Aviator” piloted its way to victory at the British Academy Film Awards, scooping the film prize and three other awards to become the most celebrated film at Saturday night’s kudofest.

Home-grown favorite “Vera Drake” took three honors, including wins for lead actress Imelda Staunton and director Mike Leigh. Popular returning host Stephen Fry spoke for many of those in the patriotic audience at the Odeon Leicester Square when he crudely joked, “It would have been a miscarriage of justice” had “Drake” not won something.

“Ray” (actor and sound winner) “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (original screenplay and editing) and “The Motorcycle Diaries” (foreign-lingo pic and film music) nabbed two gongs apiece on a night when no one film ran away from the pack.

Scorsese doesn’t score

Losing to Leigh meant more kudos disappointment for “The Aviator” pilot Martin Scorsese. Leigh admitted that, “given the field,” he felt “uncharacteristically surprised” by his triumph.

Despite leading the BAFTA field with 14 nominations, “The Aviator” scored only in the supporting actress (Cate Blanchett), production design and makeup/hair sections, in addition to the top prize.

As expected, Oscar frontrunner Jamie Foxx (“Ray”) collected the actor award. Presenter Helen Mirren, who’s married to the pic’s director, Taylor Hackford and who accepted the prize on Foxx’s behalf, read a note from the thesp that blamed his absence on the fact that he’s “driving a cab around L.A. at gunpoint.” Foxx also was nommed for his supporting perf for his role as a cabbie in “Collateral.”

Supporting actor kudos went to Clive Owen (“Closer”). The Golden Globe winner was another popular winner on home turf and dedicated his win to London: “The play started here, the film was shot here and I live here.”

Blanchett blitz

Blanchett confirmed her status as the favorite in the supporting actress Oscar race with a BAFTA triumph. Accepting her prize, she acknowledged Katharine Hepburn’s trailblazing role for women working in film today.

There were single wins for “Collateral” (cinematography,) “The Day After Tomorrow” (special visual effects) and “Sideways” (adapted screenplay). Oscar best picture contenders “Sideways” and “Million Dollar Baby” — latter had no BAFTA noms — were underseen by BAFTA voters as screenings were held over the hectic Christmas period.

Matthew Vaughn, the only person to be nominated twice for the Carl Foreman newcomer award — he was nommed as a producer in 1998 (“Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels”) and as a director (“Layer Cake”) this time around — again missed out. Writer-director Amma Asante took home the honor and handy £10,000 ($18,686) cheque for her debut “A Way of Life.”

‘Summer’ the Brit pick

Surprise of the evening came when the Alexander Korda Award for British pic went to Pawel Pawlikowski’s “My Summer of Love.” Awarded early in the proceedings, prize was widely expected to go to “Vera Drake.”

The BAFTA Fellowship was bestowed upon composer John Barry and the Michael Balcon Award for contribution to Brit cinema was presented to well-loved script supervisor Angela Allen, who began her illustrious continuity career in 1949 with “The Third Man.”

Signaling the increased relevance of the BAFTAs in the awards season calendar and heightened local interest, awards were telecast by BBC1 in Saturday night primetime. Kudofest was moved from its usual Sunday night slot to avoid clashing with Chinese New Year’s celebrations in London’s nearby Chinatown.

And the winners are…

FILM
“The Aviator,” Michael Mann, Sandy Climan, Graham King, Charles Evans Jr

BRITISH FILM (ALEXANDER KORDA AWARD)
“My Summer of Love,” Tanya Seghatchian, Christopher Collins, Pawel Pawlikowski

CARL FOREMAN AWARD FOR BRITISH FIRST FEATURE FILM
Amma Asante, director/writer for A Way of Life”

DIRECTOR (DAVID LEAN AWARD)
Mike Leigh “Vera Drake”

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Charlie Kaufman “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor “Sideways”

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
“The Motorcycle Diaries” Michael Nozik, Edgard Tenembaum, Karen Tenkhoff, Walter Salles

ACTOR
Jamie Foxx, “Ray”

ACTRESS
Imelda Staunton, “Vera Drake”

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Clive Owen, “Closer”

SUPPORTING ACTRESSCate Blanchett, “The Aviator”

FILM MUSIC (ANTHONY ASQUITH AWARD)
“The Motorcycle Diaries,” Gustavo Santaolalla

CINEMATOGRAPHY
“Collateral,” Dion Beebe, Paul Cameron

EDITING
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” Valdís Óskarsdóttir

PRODUCTION DESIGN
“The Aviator,” Dante Ferretti

COSTUME DESIGN
“Vera Drake,” Jacqueline Durran

SOUND
“Ray” Steve Cantamessa, Scott Millan, Greg Orloff, Bob Beemer

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
“The Day After Tomorrow,” Karen E Goulekas, Neil Corbould, Greg Strause, Remo Balcells

MAKE UP & HAIR
“The Aviator,” Morag Ross, Kathryn Blondell, Siân Grigg

SHORT ANIMATION FILM“Birthday Boy,” Andrew Gregory, Sejong Park

SHORT FILM
“The Banker,” Kelly Broad, Hattie Dalton

ORANGE FILM OF THE YEAR (voted for by members of the general public)
“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”

ACADEMY FELLOWSHIP
John Barry

MICHAEL BALCON AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING BRITISH CONTRIBUTION TO CINEMA
Angela Allen

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