Greater promi­nence

At the baftas, 12yearsaSlave and star Chi­we­tel ejio­for tri­umph.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SHOWBIZ - By Henry CHu > Turn TO PAGe 20

For the sec­ond straight year, a story taken from the pages of Amer­i­can his­tory tri­umphed at the Bri­tish Academy of Film and Tele­vi­sion Arts awards (Bafta), with 12 Years A Slave win­ning prizes for best film and for leading ac­tor Chi­we­tel Ejio­for.

In a mild up­set, Al­fonso Cuaron, di­rec­tor of the space odyssey Grav­ity, beat 12 Years A Slave’s Steve McQueen as best di­rec­tor.

Cate Blanchett was named best ac­tress for Blue Jas­mine and promptly ded­i­cated her award to the mem­ory of ac­tor Philip Sey­mour Hoff­man, who died this month of an ap­par­ent drug over­dose.

She said Hoff­man’s “mon­u­men­tal talent” and “un­flinch­ing hon­esty” had raised the bar for ev­ery­one in their pro­fes­sion.

“All we can do in your ab­sence is to try to raise it con­tin­u­ally in our work,” Blanchett said, tears in her eyes.

“So, Phil, buddy, this is for you. Hope you’re proud.”

Jennifer Lawrence, who was ab­sent from the cer­e­mony, won sup­port­ing ac­tress for Amer­i­can Hus­tle, and Barkhad Abdi, the So­mali-born ac­tor plucked from ob­scu­rity as a cab­bie in Min­nesota to play op­po­site Tom Hanks in the pirate drama Cap­tain Phillips, was hon­oured as sup­port­ing ac­tor.

The best film award for 12 Years A Slave added to the mo­men­tum be­hind the grip­ping slav­ery-era movie as the awards sea­son rushes to­ward the cli­max of the os­cars in two weeks.

The film has al­ready gar­nered a num­ber of best pic­ture lau­rels, in­clud­ing the Golden Globe for best drama last month.

De­spite play­ing an Amer­i­can, the Bafta tro­phy for Ejio­for was cel­e­brated as a home­town vic­tory here, since he, like di­rec­tor McQueen, is Bri­tish.

Ejio­for is the sec­ond Brit in a row to take the best ac­tor award for play­ing a Yank, af­ter Daniel Day-Lewis’ star turn as Abra­ham Lin­coln.

Like­wise, 12 Years A Slave fol­lowed in the foot­steps of the Iran-hostage thriller Argo, last year’s win­ner for best film, which was also based on a true Amer­i­can story.

Ac­cept­ing the award for best film, McQueen called on lis­ten­ers to help end mod­ern-day hu­man traf­fick­ing.

“There are 21 mil­lion people in slav­ery as we sit here,” he told the glit­ter­ing au­di­ence in­side Lon­don’s royal opera House.

“I just hope that 150 years from now, our am­biva­lence will not al­low an­other film­maker to make this film.”

over­all, 12 Years A Slave re­ceived 10 nom­i­na­tions, the same num­ber as Amer­i­can Hus­tle but one fewer than the space odyssey Grav­ity, which reaped the most prizes with six, in­clud­ing for out­stand­ing Bri­tish film, cine­matog­ra­phy, spe­cial ef­fects and mu­sic.

In­deed, 12 Years A Slave, which many book­ies had ex­pected to sweep the awards, seemed in dan­ger of be­ing shut out com­pletely un­til the fi­nal few min­utes of the two-hour, 40-minute cer­e­mony.

In ad­di­tion to Lawrence, Amer­i­can Hus­tle won for orig­i­nal screen­play and for hair and makeup. Cap­tain Phillips – which the cer­e­mony’s host, co­me­dian Stephen Fry, said should be ti­tled Sav­ing Mr. Hanks – had nine nods but picked up only one prize, Abdi’s.

Abdi said he would put the tro­phy, in the shape of a clas­si­cal theatre mask, in his mother’s house.

“I’m kind of in shock,” he said. “It’s been amaz­ing, and you know, I’m lov­ing ev­ery mo­ment of it.”

Frozen won for an­i­mated film, and Italy’s The Great Beauty for for­eign-lan­guage film.

The only award voted on by the pub­lic, for ris­ing star, went to 21-year-old Bri­tish ac­tor Will Poul­ter ( The Chron­i­cles Of Nar­nia),

Fak­ing an ac­cent: Chi­we­tel ejio­for (seen here with part­ner Shari Mercer) is the sec­ond brit in a row to take the best ac­tor award at bafta for play­ing an amer­i­can, af­ter daniel day-Lewis’ star turn as abra­ham Lin­coln.

an­gelina Jolie and brad Pitt sur­prised fans when they showed up at the red car­pet in (al­most) match­ing out­fits!

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