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BAFTAs 2011: The King's Speech reigns supreme

The King's Speech

Story by Jack Foley

THE King’s Speech has been crowned the big winner at the 2011 BAFTAs picking up a mighty seven awards.

The royal drama had gone into the ceremony as favourite with 14 nominations and ended up sweeping almost all of the top honours by taking awards for best film, outstanding British film and best actor for Colin Firth.

Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush also triumphed in the best supporting actress and actor categories, while David Seidler took best original screenplay.

It didn’t quite have everything its own way, though, as Facebook drama The Social Network conjured one of the night’s big surprises by earning David Fincher the best director prize – ahead of The King’s Speech‘s Tom Hooper.

The Social Network also triumphed in the best adapted screenplay category (for Aaron Sorkin) and for best editing.

And, as widely predicted, Natalie Portman was crowned best actress for her performance as a troubled ballerina in Black Swan – although she could not attend the ceremony in person as she is heavily pregnant.

In her absence, the film’s director Darren Aronofsky praised her dedication to the role.

But the night really did belong to the royal drama and Firth, who completed a rare double by winning best actor two years in a row. He had been recognised in the same category last year for his performance in A Single Man.

In completing the double, he becomes the first star to win the best actor BAFTA two years’ running since the late Rod Steiger won back-to-back awards for The Pawnbroker in 1967 and In The Heat of The Night in 1968.

Upon taking to the stage, the popular star quipped: “I like coming here.”

What the other main winners said

Helena Bonham Carter picked up the first major BAFTA award of the night, winning best supporting actress for The King’s Speech for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth.

In typically light-hearted, quick-witted fashion, the actress said: “I’m so used to losing, it’s quite a strange feeling to win.”

She went on to observe [in reference to playing the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland]: “I seem to be playing queens with ever decreasing headsizes!”

But she also thanked the royal family, saying: “I think I should thank the Royal family frankly because they’ve done wonders for my career.”

Her co-star Geoffrey Rush, who won the BAFTA for best supporting actor for his portrayal of unconventional speech therapist Lionel Logue, was not there to collect his award.

But composer Alexandre Desplat, who took home the very first award of the night for best original score, joked: “I didn’t expect after writing for The Queen to be called for royal duties again.”

And the film’s screenwriter, David Seidler, who had to overcome a stammer himself, said: “It’s amazing that this little film seems to have spoken to the world and I’m deeply moved by that. For a stutterer, a stammerer, to be heard is a wonderful thing.”

Commenting on The Social Network‘s triumph for director David Fincher, he film’s stars, Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield, who picked up the award on the absent Fincher’s behalf, said: “As exhilarating as they are to watch they are as exhilarating to act in.”

Other BAFTA winners

In a night that contained few big surprises, perhaps the biggest came in the Orange Wednesday Rising Star category, which was voted for by members of the public.

Going into the ceremony, the smart money had been on either Gemma Arterton or Andrew Garfield. But Tom Hardy emerged victorious.

Other award winners on the night included Toy Story 3, which triumphed in the animated category.

The prize for best foreign film went to the original Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which was presented by film critic Mark Kermode.

A US remake is currently being shot by The Social Network director David Fincher, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara.

Christopher Nolan’s Inception picked up three prizes – for best sound, production design and special effects. And Alice in Wonderland won prizes for best make-up and hair and best costumes.

Until The River Runs Red, which was made at the National Film and Television School, won best short film, while best short animation went to Michael Please’s The Eagleman Stag.

The Harry Potter film series, meanwhile, was recognised with a BAFTA for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema – a prize that was presented by Stephen Fry.

And Sir Christopher Lee was presented with the Academy Fellowship, an award he received from director Tim Burton.

View the winners at a glance