Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” dominated the 70th British Academy Film Awards on Sunday night, claiming five prizes including best film, director, and leading actress for Emma Stone. The triumph maintained the musical’s momentum through this year’s awards season ahead of the Oscars on Feb. 26.
“I think film, when at its best, reveals there is more that ties us together than tears us apart,” said producer Jordan Horowitz. Fellow producer Fred Berger praised the U.K. industry for “challenging us and setting the bar.”
Stone said the film was “one of the greatest working experiences of my life” and went on to thank BAFTA for bringing the industry together to “celebrate the positive gift of creativity, how it can transcend borders and make people feel a little less alone.”
Casey Affleck claimed the best actor award for his performance in Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester By the Sea,” which also won Lonergan the BAFTA for best original screenplay. “This is an honor I’ll never forget,” said Affleck. “The reason I act is when I was a young kid my mom took me to Al-Anon meetings for children of alcoholics. It was therapy but it was acting and acting has sort of been that for me ever since.”
BAFTA chair Jane Lush took the stage ahead of the ceremony’s official start, hitting the first of many political notes of the evening as she commented on diversity issues within the industry. Lush said it was shocking that in the 21st Century “your gender, race, and background can still hold you back.” She also remarked on the success of British talent in U.S. films, commenting that she feared “someone might build a wall across the Atlantic to keep us out.”
After an on-stage performance by Cirque du Soleil to open the show, host Stephen Fry took the stage. In his opening remarks he also took a swipe at Donald Trump. While welcoming Meryl Streep to the ceremony he said Streep was “one of the greatest actresses of all-time. Only a blithering idiot would think otherwise.” Turning his attention to Affleck he then joked he was “one of the best actors in his family.”
Ken Loach’s “I, Daniel Blake” took the first award of the night for outstanding British film. Loach thanked the academy for “endorsing the truth of what the film says, that thousands of people are treated by this government with a callous brutality which is a disgrace.” He apologized for getting political so early in the ceremony but said filmmakers know which side of the divide between the rich and powerful and normal people they were on. “Despite the glitz and glamour of occasions like this we’re on the people’s,” said Loach.
“Lion’s” Luke Davies won the award for best adapted screenplay. The film also scored a surprise win for star Dev Patel in the supporting actor category. The British actor beat bookies’ favorite Mahershala Ali in “Moonlight” to the award. It was the first film to convert a second nomination into a win, which came with the 18th award of the night.
The EE Rising Star BAFTA award, the only award voted for by the public, went to “Captain America: Civil War” and “The Impossible” star Tom Holland. Holland, who is currently filming “Avengers: Infinity War,” will soon be seen as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” The young star beat out Anya Taylor-Joy, Laia Costa, Lucas Hedges, and Ruth Negga for the award.
Holland singled out two acting coaches, Nick Evans and Ben Perkins, for thanks, saying it was a profession too often overlooked. Evans worked with Holland on his stage performance in “Billy Elliot.” Perkins worked with the actor on his breakout film role in “The Impossible.”
Ava DuVernay’s “13th” won the BAFTA for best documentary, marking a first BAFTA film award for Netflix.
Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes took home the award for foreign language for 2015 Oscar-winner “Son of Saul,” beating out nominees including Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” and Pedro Almodovar’s “Julieta.”
One surprise of the night, including seemingly for its director Travis Knight, was Laika Entertainment’s “Kubo and the Two Strings,” taking home the prize for best animation. The film beat out Disney stablemates “Zootopia,” “Moana” and “Finding Dory.” “It’s utterly shocking,” said Knight in the press conference following his win.
Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer went to Persian-language horror “Under the Shadow,” directed by Babak Anvari.
“The Jungle Book” snapped up best special visual effects for Robert Legato, Dan Lemmon, Andrew R. Jones and Adam Valdez.
It was a very even-handed celebration of the year in film amongst craft categories. Madeline Fontaine took the award for costume design for “Jackie,” while “Florence Foster Jenkins” claimed the prize for make up and hair for J. Roy Helland and Daniel Phillips.
“Arrival” took the award for best sound; “Hacksaw Ridge”‘s John Gilbert took the prize for editing; while “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” claimed the production design award.
The U.K.’s National Film and Television School scored another win in the short film category, taking the prize for British short animation for “A Love Story.” Refugee crisis allegory “Home” took the prize for British short film.
French actress Isabelle Huppert presented the previously announced special BAFTA award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema to U.K. art-house exhibitor Curzon.
Mel Brooks, who shared BAFTA’s Animated Film Award in 1964 for his three minute short “The Critic” but had only been nominated once in the intervening years for his screenplay for 1974 classic “Blazing Saddles,” was honored with a BAFTA Fellowship, the body’s highest accolade, for his outstanding and exceptional contribution to the industry. The comedy legend was presented with the award by actors Simon Pegg and Nathan Lane and BAFTA president HRH the Duke of Cambridge.
“I think BAFTA has made unbearably good choices tonight, especially me,” said Brooks. “I want to thank Harvey Weinstein for having nothing to do with this award tonight.”
He apologised to the Duke and Duchess [of Cambridge] for the American Revolution. “We were young,” joked the Brooks. “I don’t think of England as a foreign country. I think of it as a vast Brooklyn that just speaks better.”
“Having an American here is very moving,” added Brooks on a more serious note. He said to be awarded the BAFTA Fellowship following in the footsteps of “Hitchcock, Olivier, Powell and Pressburger; champions and idols of my life, is a singular and august honor.”
FULL WINNERS LIST
“La La Land,” Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt
Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”
Casey Affleck, “Manchester By the Sea”
Emma Stone, “La La Land”
BEST ANIMATED FILM
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Viola Davis, “Fences”
“Manchester By the Sea,” Kenneth Lonergan
“Lion,” Luke Davies
FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
“Son of Saul,” Laszlo Nemes, Gabor Sipos
“13th,” Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick, Howard Barish
OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
“I, Daniel Blake,” Ken Loach, Rebecca O’Brien, Paul Laverty
OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER
Babak Anvari (Writer/Director), Emily Leo, Oliver Roskill, Lucan Toh (Producers), “Under the Shadow”
EE RISING STAR AWARD (VOTED FOR BY THE PUBLIC)
“La La Land,” Justin Hurwitz
“La La Land,” Linus Sandgren
“Hacksaw Ridge,” John Gilbert
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Stuart Craig, Anna Pinnock
“Jackie,” Madeline Fontaine
MAKE UP AND HAIR
“Florence Foster Jenkins,” J. Roy Helland, Daniel Phillips
“Arrival,” Sylvain Bellemare, Claude La Haye, Bernard Gariépy Strobl
SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
“The Jungle Book”
BRITISH SHORT ANIMATION
“A Love Story,” Khaled Gad, Anushka Kishani Naanayakkara, Elena Ruscombe-King
BRITISH SHORT FILM
“Home,” Shpat Deda, Afolabi Kuti, Daniel Mulloy, Scott O’Donnell
OUTSTANDING BRITISH CONTRIBUTION TO CINEMA (PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED)
BAFTA FELLOWSHIP (PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED)