BAFTA Film Awards 2014: 12 Years A Slave and Gravity win big
Story by Jack Foley
Steve McQueen’s slavery drama won the night’s top prize, best film, as well as best actor for its leading man Chiwetel Ejiofor.
But Gravity was crowned best British film and Alfonso Cuaron took the coveted best director prize. It also picked up technical awards for cinematography, special visual effects, sound and original music.
After thanking everyone for the honour, McQueen pointed out that 21 million people are currently in slavery “as we sit here”, adding: “I just hope that 150 years from now our ambivalence will not allow another filmmaker to make this film.”
After picking up his prize for best actor, Ejiofor said he was deeply honoured and privileged to receive it. He also thanked director McQueen for his artistry and passion, as well as for introducing him to Solomon Northup, the real-life character he plays in the film. And he thanked all of his fellow cast members, describing co-star Michael Fassbender, in particular, as “a marvel”.
Best director Cuaron, meanwhile, said he considers himself a part of the British film industry, having made half of his films in the UK, and joked: “I guess I would make a very good case for curbing immigation.”
But he went on to say that the award meant a lot and praised leading lady Sandra Bullock, without whose performance “everything would have been nonsense”.
Another multiple award winner was American Hustle, which had gone into the ceremony with 10 nominations. It picked up trophies for Jennifer Lawrence as best supporting actress and best original screenplay for Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell (who also directed).
Lawrence herself was not at the ceremony, prompting Russell to accept her prize.
One of the few big surprises of the night occurred in the best supporting actor category, where newcomer Barkhad Adbi beat favourite Michael Fassbender to the prize for his performance in Captain Phillips. The Somalia born actor was recognised for his portrayal of a modern day pirate.
He thanked leading man Tom Hanks “for everything” and director Paul Greengrass for believing in him before he believed in himself.
Cate Blanchett, however, surprised few by picking up best actress for her role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine – adding to the multitude of prizes she has already picked up this awards season.
She described the film as the most extraordiary opportunity for an actress and thanked everyone who made it so memorable and such a game changer for her. And she also dedicated the award to the “late, great” Philip Seymour Hoffman, whom she described as an inspiration for his “monumental talent, generosity and quest for truth in art and real life”.
Philomena was recognised with the best adapted screenplay prize, which went to Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope.
Disney’s Frozen claimed the best animation prize, ahead of Disney-Pixar’s Monsters University and Despicable Me 2, while the short animation award was won by Sleeping With The Fishes.
The BAFTA for outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer went to Kieran Evans for Kelly + Victor, the tale of a young couple embarking on a passionate love affair.
While US directing legend Ron Howard saw his Formula One movie Rush, which chronicles the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, win the award for best editing.
Young British actor Will Poulter won the EE Rising Star Award, as voted for by members of the public. Having broken through in Son of Rambow he has since gone on to star in films as diverse as Dexter Fletcher’s Wild Bill and Hollywood blockbuster comedy smash We’re The Millers.
Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby picked up two awards for production design and costume design.
The awards were hosted for a ninth time by actor Stephen Fry.