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BAFTAs 2012: The Artist dominates with seven awards

The Artist

Story by Jack Foley

THE Artist has emerged as the toast of the 2012 BAFTAs winning a total of seven awards.

The black and white silent film homage took home awards for best film, best actor (for Jean Dujardin) and best director (for Michel Hazanavicius) as well as best original screenplay (also for Hazanavicius), best cinematography (for Guillaume Schiffman), Original Music (Ludovic Bource) and Costume Design (for Mark Bridges).

Dujardin’s best actor prize came at the expense of British favourite Gary Oldman and Oscar tip George Clooney (for The Descendants). He said: “To be in the company of such illustrious and talented nominees – Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman, Michael Fassbender, George Clooney – I’m very, very proud and, I’m sorry, shocked. And to recieve this award from the country of Sir Laurence Olivier, William Webb Ellis and Benny Hill…. thank you for those who took the risk of making a black and white silent movie… As Buster Keaton would say [pauses to milk applause]”. Thank you!”

Hazanavicius, meanwhile, said upon picking up the best director prize: “I’m so proud that Brad Pitt pronounced my name so well! The recognition of your peers is I think the most important. I know I will have some bad days because I’m a director, but I wil remember this day, today, as a good day. So, thank you very much.”

Another award winner that was widely predicted was Meryl Streep, who was crowned best actress for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.

On her way up to the podium, Streep lost her shoe but awards presenter Colin Firth was on hand to rescue her. She recovered gracefully, however, to say: “Somebody once said, I think it was Margaret Atwood… the fate of the well known is to be misunderstood. And the ambition of this film, The Iron Lady, was to look at the life of the ‘iron lady’ from the inside out and to locate something real, maybe hidden, but truthful in the life of someone that we’ve all decided we all know everything about already. I’m very proud of the film and I owe so much to Phyllida Lloyd, Abi Morgan, Pathe, Damian Jones, for sticking with this… and for asking and expecting so much of me.”

Other notable winners on the night included Paddy Considine, whose directorial debut Tyrannosaur took the BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by British Writer, Director or Producer.

And veteran actor Christopher Plummer, who won for his portrayal of a gay man who comes out in his elder years in Beginners. The award makes him the oldest ever winner of a BAFTA at 82 years of age, although he was not present to collect it.

Upon collecting his award, Considine jokingly mimicked Sylvester Stallone before thanking his crew both in front of and behind the camera, describing his leading lady Olivia Colman as “brilliant and irrepressible” and paying special mention to Gary Oldman who was involved at an early stage.

Star-studded spy thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was named Outstanding British Film. It also took home the award for best adapted screenplay for Peter Straughan and the late Bridget O’Connor.

Upon receiving the first award, director Tomas Alfredson said: “It’s easy to be talented when you’re surrounded by talented people.”

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo took two awards for production design and best sound, while Asif Kapadia’s Oscar snubbed Senna also scored a double, deservedly picking up best documentary and best editing.

DreamWorks Animation’s Rango – directed by Gore Verbinski and voiced by Johnny Depp – took the award for best animation.

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 also got the evening off to a flying start by winning the BAFTA for Special Visual Effects ahead of the likes of Hugo and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

And Pitch Black Heist, starring BAFTA Best Actor nominee Michael Fassbender, took the award for Short Film.

In one of the night’s big surprises, Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In – starring Antonio Banderas – beat Iran’s A Separation to the Film Not In The English Language prize.

A second big surprise, meanwhile, came in the Orange Wednesday Rising Star Award, as voted for by members of the public, who named Adulthood and Anuvahood‘s Adam Deacon the winner ahead of Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, Chris O’Dowd and Eddie Redmayne.

Deacon said: “This is mad. This is crazy. I can’t believe I’m in the same place as people like Brad Pitt… Thank you to everyone out there…. Thank you to BAFTA for this because it’s a win for the underdog. And thank you to the members of the public.”

This year’s ceremony, which was held at the Royal Opera House in London, opened in spectacular fashion with Welsh singer Tom Jones performing the James Bond song Thunderball to rapturous applause.

Two of the night’s previously announced awards went to John Hurt for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema and Martin Scorsese who took home the BAFTA Fellowship.

Upon receiving his accolade, Hurt said: “Who would have that, all those years ago, that I would be sharing the stage of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, with Billy Bob Thornton. How fabulous!”

He then joked about his wife’s involvement in shaping his speech and how it boiled down to her offering him the advice of “simply saying thank you”.

He did, however, add special mention to the directors who had given him the opportunity to play such wonderful parts that he would never “in a million years” have thought of for himself.

“The reason that I’m standing here is because I am the addition to their imaginations,” he added.

View the winners in full