Brit director Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” was top dog at the British Academy Film Awards, taking a leading seven prizes including best film and director honors.
The seven “Slumdog” wins at London’s Royal Opera House maintained the Mumbai-set thriller’s awards-season momentum. “Slumdog” now bounds into the Kodak Theater for the Academy Awards boosted by major wins at the DGA, PGA, SAG, WGA and Golden Globes.
Pic went into the race with a joint-best 11 noms — the same as David Fincher’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” which won three. No other pic bagged multiple prizes on a night when 12 films were feted by the British Academy.
Kate Winslet won BAFTA gold for her turn as a Nazi guard in “The Reader.” Winslet was a good bet for the kudos given she was also nommed for “Revolutionary Road.” In a short speech, she dedicated her award to recently deceased “Reader” producers Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack.
Actor honors went to Mickey Rourke for his perf in “The Wrestler.” Rourke delighted auds with a painfully honest acceptance speech, in which he thanked Darren Aronofsky for the second chance the thesp received “after fucking up my career for 15 years.” He also praised co-star Marisa Tomei for her bravery in taking her clothes off in the film, quipping “I enjoyed looking at her,” and dedicated his win to Brit acting legend and hellraiser Richard Harris.
Besides its two top prizes, “Slumdog,” which was loudly applauded for every win, brought home the bacon in the categories of adapted screenplay (Simon Beaufoy), editing (Chris Dickens), music (A.R. Rahman), cinematography (Anthony Dod Mantle), and sound. “Button” took the production design; makeup and hair; plus special visual effects kudos.
Heath Ledger was posthumously awarded the supporting actor prize for his arresting turn as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.” Penelope Cruz (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) triumphed in the supporting actress section.
The Alexander Korda Award for British Film went to documentary “Man on Wire.” The Carl Foreman award for special achievement by a Brit director, writer or producer went to artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen for “Hunger.” McQueen, who delivered probably the shortest speech, took to the stage in a head-turning red kilt.
“I’ve Loved You So Long” was named best film not in the English language.
In other awards, “Wall-E” won the animated film BAFTA, Martin McDonagh snagged original screenplay gold for “In Bruges” and period drama “The Duchess” won costume design.
Multihyphenate Noel Clarke (“Adulthood”) collected BAFTA’s Orange Rising Star prize, which is decided by public vote via Internet and text messaging from a noms list drawn up by an industry jury. He closed his speech with a rousing message for youngsters watching the BAFTAs on TV: “You can do this if you work hard … Yes We Can!”
As previously announced, Terry Gilliam was feted with the fellowship prize, in recognition of his contribution to film, and Pinewood Shepperton, Europe’s leading studios group and home to the James Bond franchise received the award for British contribution to cinema. Gilliam took time to praise Ledger — “we can’t even begin to imagine what he was going to be.”
Brad Pitt, who attended with Angelina Jolie, missed out on the night despite noms in both the lead actor (“Button”) and supporting actor (“Burn After Reading”) categories. There were no wins for multi-nommed “Changeling” (eight nods), “Frost/Nixon” (six), “Milk” (four) and “Revolutionary Road” (four).
The Awards were hosted by Jonathan Ross for the third year. Visit Variety.com/Baftas for a complete list of winners.
And the winners are:
OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
“Man On Wire” – Simon Chinn / James Marsh
Mickey Rourke – “The Wrestler”
Kate Winslet – “The Reader”
Heath Ledger – “The Dark Knight”
Penélope Cruz – “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
“Slumdog Millionaire” – Danny Boyle
“In Bruges” – Martin Mcdonagh
“Slumdog Millionaire” – Simon Beaufoy
FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
“I’ve Loved You So Long” – Yves Marmion / Philippe Claudel
THE CARL FOREMAN AWARD FOR SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT BY A BRITISH DIRECTOR, WRITER OR PRODUCER FOR THEIR FIRST FEATURE FILM
Steve Mcqueen, director/writer – “Hunger”
“Wall-E” – Andrew Stanton
“Slumdog Millionaire” – A. R. Rahman
“Slumdog Millionaire” – Anthony Dod Mantle
“Slumdog Millionaire” – Chris Dickens
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Donald Graham Burt / Victor J. Zolfo
“The Duchess” – Michael O’connor
MAKE UP & HAIR
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Jean Black / Colleen Callaghan
“Slumdog Millionaire” – Glenn Freemantle / Resul Pookutty / Richard Pryke / Tom Sayers / Ian Tapp
SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Eric Barba / Craig Barron / Nathan Mcguinness / Edson Williams
“Wallace And Gromit: A Matter of Loaf And Death” – Steve Pegram / Nick Park / Bob Baker
“September” – Stewart Le Maréchal / Esther May Campbell
OUTSTANDING BRITISH CONTRIBUTION TO CINEMA
Pinewood Studios / Shepperton Studios