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Polanski's Pianist hits the top notes at this year's Baftas



Article: Jack Foley

IT WAS billed as the battle between Chicago and Gangs of New York, but Roman Polanski's The Pianist surprised many by landing the best picture and best director awards at this year's Baftas (announced on Sunday, February 23, 2003).

The film stars British actor, Adrien Brody, and tells the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a World War Two era Polish pianist who lived in the Warsaw ghettos, escaped from Nazi concentration camps and, thanks to his skill and flair for music, survived to tell about it.

It also won six awards at France's annual film ceremony, the Cesars, the day before, to add to the Palme d'Or it took at Cannes and those it took at the annual National Society of Film Critics awards in America.

Polanski was not at the ceremony to accept the accolade, but Brody did so on the director's behalf and spoke of the 'tremendous honour' of working with him, adding: "He has given me so much, and taught me so much. He is a remarkable human being and filmmaker."

In what proved to be a good night for the Brits at London's Odeon Leicester Square, Daniel Day-Lewis took the best actor award for his performance as Bill the Butcher in Martin Scorsese's epic Gangs of New York (the only award it received), and Catherine Zeta-Jones was named best supporting actress for her role as Velma Kelly in Rob Marshall's heavily-nominated Chicago.

The pregnant star said she was 'thrilled' to have won, but confessed to being 'hormonal', and asked the audience to forgive anything odd she might say, or any tears she might shed!

The best actress accolade went to Oscar favourite Nicole Kidman for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf in Stephen Daldry's The Hours, an award which she pledged to share between her co-stars, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep (who were also nominated).

The Hours also took the Anthony Asquith award for achievement in film music, while Chicago won best sound.

Acclaimed Spanish director, Pedro Almodovar, won best foreign film and best original screenplay for Talk To Her, a movie the Spanish turned down as their Oscar entry, and chose the occasion to read what he said was a passage from a French newspaper, which criticised plans for a war against Iraq.

He concluded by saying that 'we have to stop this army of darkness'.

The best supporting actor was taken by Christopher Walken for his marvellous portrayal as Leonardo Di Caprio's father in Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, while best British film was named as Asif Kapadia's Hindi-language, The Warrior, beating off audience favourites, Dirty Pretty Things and Bend It Like Beckham. The London-based director also took the award for special achievement in a first feature film.

The sequel to last year's big winner, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, took three awards, including the coveted Orange award for best film, voted for by the public and narrowly beating Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven. It was also rewarded for special effects and costume design.

Of the other major winners, the best adapted screenplay was named as Adaptation, the critically-acclaimed follow-up to Being John Malkovich.

The glittering awards event, which took place a month before the Oscars, proved another massive celebrity draw, with some of the top names in the industry attending. Among those who turned out early were award hopefuls Renee Zellweger, Sir Michael Caine, Meryl Streep and Halle Berry.

The winners in full:
Best Film
- The Pianist

Nominees: Chicago
Gangs of New York
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Hours

The Alexander Korda Award for the outstanding British Film of the Year - The Warrior

Nominees: Bend it Like Beckham
Dirty Pretty Things
The Hours
The Magdalene Sisters

The Carl Foreman Award for the most promising newcomer to British Film - Asif Kapadia (director, The Warrior)

Nominees: Simon Bent (writer, Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry)
Lucy Darwin (producer, Lost in La Mancha)
Duncay Roy (writer/director, AKA)

The David Lean Award for achievement in Direction - Roman Polanski (The Pianist)

Nominees: Stephen Daldry (The Hours)
Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers)
Rob Marshall (Chicago)
Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York)

Best Screenplay (Original) - Talk to Her

Nominees: Dirty Pretty Things
Gangs of New York
The Magdalene Sisters
Y Tu Mamá También

Best Screenplay (Adapted) - Adaptation

Nominees: About a Boy
Catch Me If You Can
The Hours
The Pianist

Performance by an actress in a leading role - Nicole Kidman (The Hours)

Nominees: Halle Berry (Monster's Ball)
Salma Hayek (Frida)
Meryl Streep (The Hours)
Renée Zellweger (Chicago)

Performance by an actor in a leading role - Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York)

Nominees: Adrien Brody (The Pianist)
Michael Caine (The Quiet American)
Nicolas Cage (Adaptation)
Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role - Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago)

Nominees: Toni Collette (About a Boy)
Queen Latifah (Chicago)
Julianne Moore (The Hours)
Meryl Streep (Adaptation)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role - Christopher Walken (Catch Me If You Can)

Nominees: Chris Cooper (Adaptation)
Ed Harris (The Hours)
Alfred Molina (Frida)
Paul Newman (Road to Perdition)

The Anthony Asquith Award for achievement in Film Music - The Hours

Nominees: Catch Me If You Can
Chicago
Gangs of New York
The Pianist

Film not in the English language - Talk to Her (Spain)

Nominees: City of God (Brazil)
Devdas (India)
The Warrior (UK)
Y Tu Mamá También (Mexico)

Cinematography - Road to Perdition

Nominees: Chicago
Gangs of New York
The Pianist
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Production design - Road to Perdition

Nominees: Chicago
Gangs of New York
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Costume design - The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Nominees: Catch Me If You Can
Chicago
Frida
Gangs of New York

Editing - City of God

Nominees: Chicago
Gangs of New York
The Hours
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Sound - Chicago

Nominees: Gangs of New York
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The Pianist
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Achievement in special visual effects - The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Nominees: Gangs of New York
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Minority Report
Spider-Man

Make up/hair - Frida

Nominees: Chicago
Gangs of New York
The Hours
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Short film - My Wrongs 8245-8249 and 117

Nominees: Bouncer
Candy Bar Kid
Good Night
The Most Beautiful Man in the World
Rank

Short animation - Fish Never Sleep

Nominees: The Chub Chubs
The Dog Who Was a Cat Inside
Sap
Wedding Espresso

Orange Audience Award - Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

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