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The British Academy Film Awards are the biggest night in the British film industry and in case you’d forgotten host Stephen Fry was on hand to remind you every ten minutes. The BAFTA awards have a lot in common with the Academy Awards in fact, both are far more straight laced than the slightly brash Golden Globes and the winners tend to largely be the same (even though the voters are completely different).
The 2015 BAFTAs will probably be remembered for being so utterly forgettable, the bookies favourites all won and there weren’t even any memorable acceptance speeches. Regardless it was still an enjoyable show, with the best films of the last 12 months all being celebrated in some way even if a few were favoured a little too much.
The show opened with a performance from British rock group Kasabain, with a montage of 2014 films played behind them. I’m certainly not a fan of Kasabain but the performance was enjoyable enough, even if the cameras refused to focus on the montage in favour of shots of the rather bored looking band.
Stephen Fry returned to host for his tenth time, the hosting had all the trademark fry-ism you’d expect with plenty of big words and ridiculous metaphors. The truth is that Fry’s continual hosting dates the BAFTAs considerably; he simply doesn’t appeal to a younger demographic that most of the awards shows are desperate to get on side. On balance Fry probably had more misses than hits when it came to jokes, with many of his punchlines being met with murmurs of sympathy laughs and a few shots of famous faces looking bored rather than amused. Fry’s biggest contribution to the night was an extremely ill-judged Stephen Hawking joke in which Fry mimicked the professors computer voice, it was a tacky and frankly rather mean spirited moment. The matter wasn’t helped much by the fact that Hawking was in attendance, and in an extremely heart-warming moment presented an award along with The Theory of Everything star Felicity Jones right before Fry’s “joke”.
The best part of the two hour award ceremony was undoubtedly a tribute to the late Richard Attenborough. The moving memoriam began with a video message from Robert Downey Jr, who worked with Attenborough on the movie Chaplin, before transitioning into a montage of his many contributions to cinema set to a live instrument version of the Charlie Chaplin classic “Smile”.
As previously noted the winners weren’t a huge surprise. Boyhood took home the big prize of the evening winning both “Best Film”, “Best Director” and “Best Supporting Actress” for Patricia Arquette. It was a shame that Boyhood director Richard Linklater was absent, as was The Grand Budapest Hotel director Wes Anderson which won “Best Original Screenplay”.
The BAFTAs have always made a point of celebrating British films, with The Theory of Everything winning “Outstanding British Film” and “Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer” being taken home by Pride’s writer and producer Stephen Beresford and David Livingstone. The Imitation Game won “Best Adapted Screenplay” against considerable better competition.
JK Simmons continued his sweep of the “Best Supporting Actor” award for Whiplash. If I was nominated against him for the Academy Award (or the few smaller award shows left) I wouldn’t even bother turning up. Simmons is an unstoppable force at this point. Julianne Moore won “Best Actress” for Still Alice in a classic case of awarding the actress not the performance and Eddie Redmayne won “Best Actor” for The Theory of Everything.
The publically voted “EE Rising Star” award went to Jack O’Connell, which was perhaps a surprise though when you consider he’s British and foreigners rarely win this award it’s less so. The Academy Fellowship, which was presented to Mike Leigh, rounded out what had been an enjoyable but all too predictable night. Perhaps one day we’ll see an awards season where it’s anybody’s game but that certainly isn’t the case this year, and the 68th annual BAFTAs served only to prove that.