LONDON (AP) — German anti-war film “All Quiet on the Western Front” has won seven awards, including best picture, at the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday, building momentum for the dark drama as awards season reaches its climax at next month’s Oscars.
Irish tragicomedy ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ and rock biopic ‘Elvis’ each won four awards.
“All Quiet,” a visceral portrayal of life and death in the First World War trenches based on the classic novel by Erich Maria Remarque, won Edward Berger the Best Director award. Its other trophies included Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Best Music, Best Sound, and Best Non-English Film.
Austin Butler was a surprise Best Actor winner for “Elvis.” Baz Lurhmann’s flamboyant musical also won trophies for casting, costume design, and hair and makeup. Cate Blanchett won Best Actress for the orchestral drama “Tár.”
Martin McDonagh’s ‘Banshees’, the darkly comic tale of a friendship gone awry, has been named Best British Film.
“Best what price?” joked McDonagh about the film, which was shot in Ireland with a largely Irish cast and crew. It has British funding and McDonagh was born in Britain to Irish parents.
“Banshees” also won McDonagh’s original screenplay and awards for Kerry Condon for Best Supporting Actress and Barry Keoghan for Best Supporting Actor.
The awards – officially the EE BAFTA Film Awards – are Britain’s equivalent of Hollywood’s Oscars and will be watched closely for who could win the Oscars on March 12.
Madcap metaverse romp Oscar favorite “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was the big loser of the night, picking up just one of its 10 BAFTA nominations, for editing.
Actor Richard E. Grant was a suave, self-deprecating host – with support from TV presenter Alison Hammond – for the ceremony at London’s Royal Festival Hall, where the UK’s film academy announced its progress for diversify, but said there was more to be done.
Grant joked in his opening monologue about the infamous altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock at last year’s Oscars.
“No one under my watch is being slapped tonight,” he said. “Except on the back.”
Guests and presenters walking the red carpet on the south bank of the Thames included Colin Farrell, Ana de Armas, Eddie Redmayne, Brian Cox, Florence Pugh, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Cynthia Erivo, Julianne Moore and Lily James.
Heir to the throne, Prince William, who is president of the British Academy of Film and Television, was in the audience alongside his wife, Kate. William wore a tuxedo with a black velvet jacket, while Kate wore an Alexander McQueen maxi dress which she also wore to the 2019 BAFTAs.
Helen Mirren paid tribute to William’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, who died in September. Mirren, who portrayed the late monarch on screen in ‘The Queen’ and on stage in ‘The Audience’, called Elizabeth “the leading lady of the land”.
The British film academy introduced changes to increase the diversity of the awards in 2020, when no woman was nominated as best director for the seventh consecutive year and the 20 nominees in the lead and supporting artists categories were white.
This year, 11 female directors were in the running in all categories, including documentaries and animated films. But only one of the main Best Director nominees was a woman: Gina Prince-Bythewood for “The Woman King.”
BAFTA chairman Krishnendu Majumdar said the academy’s soul-searching had been “a necessary and humbling process”. He said the “vital work of leveling the playing field” would continue.
“West Side Story” star Ariana DeBose opened the show by performing “Sisters are Doin’ it for Themselves,” with an additional rap shoutout to some of the female nominees, including Blanchett, Michelle Yeoh and Viola Davis.
Blanchett said it has been “an amazing year for female performers. To be counted among them is truly special.
It’s been a solid year for Irish actors at the BAFTAs, with Deryl McCormack taking the BAFTA Rising Star award – although he lost to Emma Mackey – and Condon, Keoghan, Farrell and Brendan Gleeson all picked up acting nominations for “Banshees”.
McCormack hailed the event as “Irish BAFTAs”.
“It’s a small country, but to see the talent coming out of it is pretty amazing,” he said.
Writer-director Charlotte Wells has won best British debut film for the touching father-daughter drama ‘Aftersun’. Three-time Oscar winner Sandy Powell has become the first costume designer to receive the academy’s highest honour, the BAFTA Fellowship.
The tough world outside of showbiz interfered with the awards when Bulgarian journalist Christo Grozev, who works for investigative site Bellingcat, said he was now allowed to attend the awards due to a risk to public safety. He appears in ‘Navalny’, a film about imprisoned Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny which won the Best Documentary BAFTA award.
“Navalny” producer Odessa Rae dedicated the award to Grozev, “our Bulgarian nerd with a laptop, who couldn’t be with us tonight because his life is threatened by the Russian government and Vladimir Putin.”
Jamie Lee Curtis, a supporting actress nominated for ‘Everything Everywhere,’ said the lucky season awards being offered to celebrate cinema is more important than who wins.
“It’s a celebratory moment in the middle of everything,” Curtis told The Associated Press on the red carpet. “It’s tough out there. Everywhere. Everything at once. All the time.”
Associated Press writer Hilary Fox contributed to this report.