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edg­ing out Lupita Ny­ong’o, a Bafta and Os­car nom­i­nee for her break­out per­for­mance in 12 Years A Slave.

Once re­garded by Hol­ly­wood as a mi­nor foot­note on the awards cir­cuit, the Baftas have shot to greater promi­nence in the past decade since or­gan­is­ers de­cided to hand out the prizes be­fore the Os­cars in­stead of af­ter.

The switch upped the awards’ pres­tige as a pre­dic­tor of the Academy Awards and turned the cer­e­mony into an A-list red-car­pet event for Tin­sel­town’s big­gest celebri­ties.

Given a break from the re­lent­less rain that has pounded Bri­tain for weeks and drowned some parts of Eng­land, fans screamed as Amy Adams, Tom Hanks, Chris­tian Bale, Leonardo DiCaprio and other stars strolled into the Royal Opera House, which Fry joked was named af­ter Oprah Win­frey, who at­tended Sun­day for the first time.

Win­frey was the evening’s first pre­sen­ter and a nom­i­nee for sup­port­ing ac­tress.

“Her per­for­mance in The But­ler was so com­mand­ing I nearly gave mine the af­ter­noon off,” Fry said.

Hol­ly­wood royalty in­side the au­di­to­rium was matched by the real kind: Prince Wil­liam, sec­ond in line to the Bri­tish throne and tit­u­lar pres­i­dent of the Bri­tish Academy of Film and Theatre Arts, a post tra­di­tion­ally re­served for a mem­ber of the royal fam­ily.

Wil­liam helped present the academy’s high­est hon­our, a Bafta fel­low­ship, to He­len Mir­ren, who won an Os­car for por­tray­ing Queen El­iz­a­beth II.

The prince joked that he ought to call Mir­ren “Granny.”

Mir­ren en­thralled the au­di­ence by recit­ing a pas­sage from Shake­speare’s The Tem­pest.

“‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our lit­tle life is rounded with a sleep’,” she said af­ter a stand­ing ova­tion.

“My lit­tle life is rounded with this hon­our.”

The Bri­tish academy also gave a spe­cial award for out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to Bri­tish cin­ema to di­rec­tor Peter Greenaway, the vet­eran au­teur known for off-kil­ter and of­ten boundary-push­ing films such as The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover, which starred Mir­ren. – Los Angeles Times/ McClatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

barkhad abdi (seen here with emma Thomp­son who pre­sented him the best Sup­port­ing ac­tor award) said he would keep his tro­phy in his mother’s house.

He­len Mir­ren is the re­cip­i­ent of the academy Fel­low­ship award.

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