BAFTA Recap: The Best Awards Show Americans Don’t Get to See

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/33459161@N06/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/33459161@N06/

Were you too busy watching Downton Abbey on Sunday to realize a bit of present-day British culture was taking place? The 67th British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards took place the same night, with Gravity floating away as the night’s biggest winner, scooping up six awards.

However, Best Film and Leading Actor nods were beyond its pull, with both awards going to 12 Years a Slave. Chiwetel Ejiofor was honored as the leading actor winner for his portrayal of Solomon Northup, and British director Steve McQueen accepted the film award. Gravity won its accolades in the categories of Director (Alfonso Cuarón), Outstanding British Film, Cinematography, Original Music, Special Visual Effects, and Sound.

Stephen Fry hosted the ceremony, which took place at the London Opera House. Prince William added royal stature to the star-studded evening when he presented Dame Helen Mirren with the Academy’s highest honor, the Fellowship award. The Duke of Cambridge jokingly said he ought to call her “granny,” a reference to her on-screen depiction of the reigning British monarch. “This is the greatest professional honour I can imagine, certainly one I never dreamt of as a schoolgirl in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex. To join that list of legendary names is overwhelming,” BAFTA reports Mirren saying upon hearing the news.

The BAFTA awards are considered the across-the-pond counterpart to the Academy Awards. As the Hollywood Reporter explains, from 1994 to 2000, the awards were held after the Oscars had been handed out, causing few to pay much heed to the awards. Then, in 2001, the BAFTA schedule was changed so that the British awards would be announced before the Oscars. Now, the BAFTA award show importance is growing, and it is considered an influencer on the overall awards season, which is helping cement its place as a key red carpet stop for celebrities.

To be eligible for a 2014 BAFTA award, a film needed to have been theatrically released in the U.K. between January 1 and December 31, 2013. Approximately 250 films are entered each year, and the 6,500 BAFTA members vote in two rounds to determine winners. BAFTA members include film, video, and television industry professionals. One category, the EE Rising Star Award, can be voted on by nonmembers.

This year’s Rising Star is Will Poulter, an English actor who recently had a role in We’re the Millers. Another distinct award at the BAFTAs is Outstanding British Film, one of Gravity‘s six wins. It was able to score this prize because it had a British producer, David Heyman. Heyman is also known for producing the Harry Potter movies.

Beating out Bullock in the Leading Actress category was Cate Blanchett for her role in Blue Jasmine. The film was also up for Best Original Screenplay and Supporting Actress, awards that went instead to American Hustle. Jennifer Lawrence’s role as Rosalyn Rosenfeld in the movie earned her the BAFTA award, and she will go up against Blue Jasmine‘s Sally Hawkins again at the Oscars. American Hustle also won for Make-up and Hair, a total of three awards for the evening. Supporting Actor went to Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips

BAFTA members warmed up to Frozen, which won Best Animated Film. Adapted Screenplay went to Philomena, and The Great Gatsby was praised for Costume Design and Production Design. Director Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing was named the best documentary.

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