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