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BAFTAs 2017: La La Land leads winners list along with Casey Affleck and Viola Davis

La La Land

Story by Jack Foley

DAMIEN Chazelle’s La La Land took another huge step towards Oscars success when it emerged as the big winner at this year’s BAFTAs.

The contemporary homage to the classic Hollywood musical took the night’s top award, best film, as well as prizes for best actress (Emma Stone), best director (Chazelle) and original music (Justin Hurwitz).

However, the film was prevented from claiming a clean sweep of the top awards when leading man Ryan Gosling was pipped to the best actor prize by Manchester By The Sea‘s Casey Affleck.

That film also won best original screenplay for its director, Kenneth Lonergan, who also singled out his leading man for praise, saying that Affleck gives “one of the most brilliant performances I’ve ever seen – or think I will” in a film about “looking grief and sorrow in the face”.

Of La La Land‘s winners, leading lady Stone beat the likes of Amy Adams, Meryl Street, Emily Blunt and Natalie Portman to the top prize. And she took the opportunity to celebrate the “gift of creativity” as well as the diversity inherent within the artistic community.

Alluding to the current political unrest in both the US and the UK, she began by saying: “This country – and the US, and the world – seems to be going through a bit of a time, just a bit.”

She added: “In a time that’s so divisive, I think it’s so special we were able to come together tonight thanks to BAFTA, to celebrate the positive gift of creativity and how it can transcend borders and how it can help people to feel a little less alone.”

Of the night’s other big winners, Britain’s Dev Patel claimed the best supporting actor prize for his performance in Lion.

The delighted young star exclaimed: “Wow, that just happened” Before adding: “This is so overwhelming. I sit at home and watch this with my family, who are here with me tonight.”

He went on to describe Lion as a film about family and “a love that transcends borders, race, colour, anything”.

Further British success came in the outstanding British film category, where Ken Loach’s benefits drama I, Daniel Blake took home the award, prompting the veteran director to issue a stern put-down to current government policy.

He said: “Thank you to the Academy for recognising the message of what the film says, that the most vulnerable people are treated by this government with a callous brutality that is disgraceful. It’s a brutality that extends to keeping out refugee children that we promised to help, and that’s a disgrace too.”

Viola Davis was crowned best supporting actress for her performance in Denzel Washington’s Fences and used her speech to pay tribute to the power of writer August Wilson, upon whose play the film is based.

She said: “When my father took his last breath, one of the thoughts that went through my mind was, ‘Did his life matter?’ And August answers that question so brilliantly. Because what he did is said that our lives mattered as African-Americans. The people who did not make it into history books, but they have a story, and those stories deserve to be told. Thank you, August.”

Further prizes were bestowed upon Kubo & The Two Strings, which took home the best animated film, and to Holocaust drama Son of Saul, which was named best foreign language film.

13th took home the documentary prize, while the award for outstanding British debut went to Under The Shadow.

The EE Rising Star Award, the only prize voted for by members of the public, went – somewhat predictably – to Tom Holland, who is currently occupying the role of Spider-Man in Marvel’s Avengers films and his own, forthcoming stand-along Spider-Man: Homecoming.

The awards ceremony, which was held at London’s Royal Albert Hall, was rounded off with the presentation of the BAFTA Fellowship, which this year went to American star Mel Brooks.

He thanked BAFTA for their good choices tonight – “especially me” – as he accepted his award, adding that “to choose an American is mighty nice of you, mighty nice”.

Maintaining his gift for comedy, Brooks went on to quip that he doesn’t consider the UK to be a separate country to the US, but rather a “vast Brooklyn that just speaks better”.

But on a more serious note, he said that receiving an award previously won by the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Laurence Olivier was a “singular and august honour and I’m very grateful”.

View the winners list in full