Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 November 2020

Baftas 2020: 1917 wins big as Joaquin Phoenix criticises lack of diversity

'For Sama', by Syrian director Waad Al Kateab, won the best documentary award

First World War epic 1917 had a successful night at the Bafta awards on Sunday, scooping seven prizes, including the coveted Best Film and Best Director.

Sam Mendes’s movie also won awards for Best Cinematography, Production Design, Sound and Special Visual Effects.

The movie, which follows two British soldiers on a perilous mission across no man's land, had already scooped the Golden Globe for Best Drama, and has 10 Academy Award nominations including for Best Picture.

It is also tipped for Oscars glory in a week’s time.

"It's moving for me to get this in my hometown for the first time," said Mendes, the first British winner of the Best Director Bafta since Danny Boyle won in 2009 with Slumdog Millionaire.

"Thank you to all the people who have gone to see this in the cinemas," he told the star-studded ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

At this year's Baftas, the same five movies filled the best film and best director nominations.

Joining 1917 and Mendes were Joker (Todd Phillips); South Korean comedy thriller Parasite (Bong Joon-ho); The Irishman (Martin Scorsese); and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino.

Parasite won two prizes, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Non-English Language Film.

But the evening was disappointing for Tarantino's comedy-drama, which won just one award – Brad Pitt for Best Supporting Actor – and Scorsese’s gangster film didn’t win any.

For Sama, by Syrian director Waad Al Kateab, won the Best Documentary award.

The film, which scored four Bafta nominations, tells the true story of Al Kateab living in wartorn Aleppo during the uprising.

Although Joker won three awards, including Joaquin Phoenix for Best Actor, it was a disappointing night for the film as it had received 11 nominations.

Phoenix beat Hollywood veteran Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Taron Egerton (Rocketman) and Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes).

Renee Zellweger claimed the Best Actress award for her portrayal of Judy Garland's late-life comeback tour in Judy, seeing off stiff competition from a talented field of Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) and Charlize Theron (Bombshell).

"This is very humbling," Zellweger said in her acceptance speech.

"Miss Garland, London town, which you have always loved so much, still loves you back. This is for you."

Meanwhile Laura Dern won Best Supporting Actress gong for Netflix's divorce tearjerker film Marriage Story.

She beat her co-star Scarlett Johansson, for her role in Jojo Rabbit, Florence Pugh in Little Women and twice-nominated Margot Robbie (Bombshell and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood).

The 73rd British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards ceremony was hosted by TV chat show presenter Graham Norton, with Prince William and his wife Kate adding some royal glamour in his 10th year as Bafta president.

The Baftas are often seen as indicative of which way the Oscars might go in Los Angeles, this year on February 9.

But this year’s awards have faced some criticism for lacking ethnic diversity among the acting categories' nominees, all 18 of whom were white.

Phoenix took aim at "systemic racism" and "oppression" within the industry in his acceptance speech.

"I think that we send a very clear message to people of colour that you're not welcome here," he said.

Bafta said it would review its voting system in time for next year's awards.

The winners and nominees in most categories are voted for by the 6,500 members, who are industry professionals and creatives from around the world.

In previous years, senior Bafta figures said the awards could only reflect the cinema industry's output.

"It's infuriating. We can't make the industry do something; all we can do is encourage," said Bafta film committee chairman Marc Samuelson.

Updated: February 3, 2020 06:44 AM

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