In a similar turn of events to last month’s Golden Globe Awards, tonight’s BAFTAs were almost a nightmare for bookies’ favorite “12 Years a Slave” — toward the end of the evening, with only four awards left to present, Steve McQueen’s film had gone zero-for-eight, losing the supporting awards to “Captain Phillips'” Barkhad Abdi and “American Hustle’s” Jennifer Lawrence, and Best Adapted Screenplay to “Philomena.”
It rallied, with Chiwetel Ejiofor taking Best Actor en route to the big prize, but this was a night that did little to clarify the frontrunners’ overall standings in the Oscar race. “Gravity,” as expected, was the night’s top winner in terms of numbers, taking Best Director and, somewhat controversially, Best British Film. “American Hustle,” meanwhile, took a healthy three wins. Check out the rest of the winners below, in the order they were presented at the ceremony, with accompanying live commentary.
Best British Film: “Gravity,” Alfonso Cuaron and David Heyman
Well, I guess the skeptical response to the blockbuster’s nomination in this category wasn’t as widespread as we thought. Kris, Greg and I all expected the more obviously British “Philomena” to take this one, but muscle won out, as the night’s leading nominee took its first of what will be several wins tonight. Could it win Best Film too? “The King’s Speech” pulled off the double three years ago. Either way, I suspect this win will prompt some internal discussion going forward about this award’s definition and objective.
Best British Short: “Room 8”
Best British Animated Short: “Sleeping With the Fishes,” James Walker, Sarah Woolner, Yousif Al-Khalifa
Best Production Design: “The Great Gatsby,” Catherine Martin and Beverly Dunn
Yep, as all three of us suspected — the film is simply too ornate for voters to ignore in this category. Martin also won the period category at the Art Directors’ Guild awards last week, and I suspect she’ll be taking home her second Oscar in this category. This is her fourth BAFTA to date, having previously won for “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet” (production design) and “Strictly Ballroom” (production and costume design).
Best Sound: “Gravity,” Glenn Freemantle, Skip Lievsay, Christopher Benstead, Niv Adiri and Chris Munro
Again, no surprise there, and another result likely to be repeated on Oscar night. Still, while it’s become sort of automatic for every year’s chosen prestige blockbuster to take the sound awards, this is a particularly intelligent choice — given how necessarily quiet so much of the film is.
Best Editing: “Rush,” Dan Hanley and Mike Hill
Greg called this one correctly, and it’s not exactly a surprise: BAFTA has never tied this category quite as closely to the Best Film race as the Academy, and all the racing action in Ron Howard’s racing drama (plus the film’s British profile) made it an attractive option here. I’m still somewhat surprised that Hanley and Hill, who won the 1995 Oscar for “Apollo 13,” couldn’t eke out a nomination.
Best Documentary: “The Act of Killing,” Joshua Oppenheimer
The competition arguably wasn’t quite as strong as it is in the Oscar race, so Oppenheimer’s extraordinary conversation piece — which has been a long-running arthouse hit in the UK — was practically assured a victory here. The Oscar might be a tougher get, but either way, I’m delighted for Oppenheimer: only this afternoon, I had a terrific interview with him in London, and look forward to sharing it with you next week.
Best Makeup and Hair: “American Hustle,” Evelyne Noraz, Lori McCoy-Bell and Kathrine Gordon
Okay, so we all predicted this would be “Behind the Candelabra’s” one shot at a non-TV award, but this choice makes sense too. Lawrence’s bouffant, Cooper’s jheri curl, Bale’s troublesome toupee — hard to argue with all that hair, or lack thereof. Shame this team missed the Oscar nod.
Best Costume Design: “The Great Gatsby,” Catherine Martin
Did I say the fourth BAFTA to date for Baz Luhrmann’s missus? Make that fifth. Another easy prediction, and while the Costume Designers’ Guild has yet to weigh in, I expect the Academy to go the same way. (Fun fact: If it wins the Oscar, it’ll be replicating the achievement of the 1974 version of “Gatsby.” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic just lends itself to sartorial dazzle.)
Best Music: “Gravity,” Steven Price
Another one we all predicted, and another one I think the Academy will agree with. (I’m getting to be a broken record, I know.) If I’m being completely honest, the score is the one element of “Gravity” I’m not completely wild about, but it’s prominent and varied and takes some sonic risks, so it seems the obvious pick. Price is still pretty new to the game: his first credited feature film score was his terrific collaboration with Basement Jaxx on “Attack the Block” in 2011.
Best Animated Film: “Frozen,” Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
With “The Wind Rises” not eligible, this was a particularly weak category, so naturally the Disney phenomenon romps to victory, as it will at the Oscars. Fine by me: It’s not my favorite animated film of the year, but I do think it’s the Disney animation branch’s best since “The Lion King.”
Carl Foreman Award (outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer: Kieran Evans, “Kelly + Victor”
Nice to see BAFTA look past the obvious mainstream candidate (Kelly Marcel for “Saving Mr. Banks”) and pick out something genuinely fresh and independent. Personally, I don’t think Evans’ erotic drama is a complete success, but he’s a striking new voice, and I’m looking forward to his follow-up — to which this win will be a considerable boost. (Past winners include Andrea Arnold and Steve McQueen.)
Best Supporting Actor: Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Well, I don’t often get to say this in the awards season, so please indulge me: called it. In the surprise absence of Oscar frontrunner Jared Leto, most were plumping fort Michael Fassbender, but Abdi surprised at the London Critics’ Circle Awards recently, and “Captain Phillips” has a lot of admirers in the UK industry, so the signs were there. It’s a terrific performance, and his is a terrific story — is there any wiggle room for him at the Oscars, or does Leto have it sewn up?
Best Cinematography: “Gravity,” Emmanuel Lubezki
Well, of course. Lubezki has already taken the American Society of Cinematographers’ Award atop a heap of critics’ honors, and there was little doubt he’d take his second BAFTA (his first coming for another Cuaron collaboration, “Children of Men”) tonight. The Oscar is in the bag at this point, and about time too. “Gravity,” meanwhile, is batting four-for-six so far.
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
That’s a bit of a blow for Best Film favorite “12 Years a Slave” — Lupita Nyong’o look to be one of its surer bets for a win tonight. But Jennifer Lawrence hasn’t won a BAFTA before, so voters could pick her without any qualms of the “too much too soon” variety. And you won’t hear me complaining — she’s doing grandly entertaining high-wire work in “American Hustle,” so far removed from Nyongo’s performance in terms of style and register that comparing them is a bit of a nonsense. After taking the Globe and the BAFTA, is she a threat for back-to-back Oscar glory? Maybe.
Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema: Peter Greenaway
As announced earlier in the week, and a pleasingly left-field choice for an honorary BAFTA. The 71-year-old filmmaker was never nominated for the likes of “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover,” “The Pillow Book” or “The Draughtsman’s Contract” even in BAFTA’s earlier, more individual days, and his brand of esoteric cinema certainly wouldn’t enter the race in today’s Oscar-chasing environment, so it’s nice to see the organization at least tipping its hat to the avant-garde.
Best Original Screenplay: “American Hustle,” David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer
“American Hustle” takes its third win of the evening, and the first we actually called. Is it more of a contender than we thought? (“12 Years a Slave” is still awaiting its first win.) Anyway, with Globe and WGA winner “Her” strangely ignored across the board by BAFTA, this was a relatively easy win for Russell — who won in the adapted category last year for “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Best Adapted Screenplay: “Philomena,” Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
Ouch. Things are beginning to look awfully bleak for “12 Years a Slave.” But Coogan (as Greg correctly called) was always a significant threat here — he’s a popular industry figure, coming off an amazing professional year (he also had a huge box office hit with “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa,” and a well-regarded lead turn in “The Look of Love”), and the film is broadly beloved within the British community. “Slave” scribe John Ridley remains the Oscar favorite, but after this upset and his WGA ineligibility, there’s still plenty of room in his trophy cabinet.
Rising Star Award: Will Poulter
For some reason, I’ve never called this category wrong, and as I suspected, 20-year-old Poulter’s exposure in “The Chronicles of Narnia” and last summer’s “We’re the Millers” gave him the edge with the texting British public — who, in case you’ve forgotten, are the ones who vote for this award. He’s a talented guy: I particularly liked him in last year’s indie “Wild Bill,” and he does show unexpected, spaced-out comic flair in “Millers.”
Best Visual Effects: “Gravity,” Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, Neil Corbould and Nikki Penny
“Gravity” takes its fifth win of the evening, and surely its most inarguable. What is left to say about this category at this point? There’s fine work in all the other nominees, but they could hardly feel more like placeholders.
Best Foreign Language Film: “The Great Beauty,” Paolo Sorrentino
I really didn’t want to be right about this one, but I was: Sorrentino’s Fellini-esque spectacle was a massive arthouse hit in the UK, with more built-in appeal to an older voting audience than its nearest rival, “Blue is the Warmest Color.” After also taking the Globe, will it win the Oscar too? It could well do, but I still wonder if it might prove too much a style exercise for Academy voters, who might be more moved by the human melodrama of “The Broken Circle Breakdown” or “The Hunt.” We’ll see.
Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
The prohibitive Best Film frontrunner finally takes down its first win of the night — it would really have been down for the count if Ejiofor had lost here, where Oscar frontrunner Matthew McConaughey wasn’t around to block his path. Fun fact: Ejiofor was a nominee for BAFTA’s inaugural Rising Star Award in 2005, losing to James McAvoy (who himself should have been nominated tonight for “Filth,” but now I’m getting off-topic).
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
BAFTA No. 6 for the year’s apparent Best British Film — nothing is topping its tally at this point in the evening. Cuaron, of course, also took the Directors’ Guild Award and the Globe, alongside any number of critics’ awards. It’s hard to see him losing the Oscar at this point. Now, will BAFTA go all the way and name it Best Film too?
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
“Philomena” clearly has support here, but not enough for perennial BAFTA favorite Judi Dench to upset the indomitable season-long frontrunner — who now adds a BAFTA to her SAG Award, Golden Globe and shelfload of critics’ prizes. Theorize about a Woody Allen backlash if you will, but Blanchett is surely taking her second Oscar in a cakewalk, and rightly so.
Best Film: “12 Years a Slave”
I’ll bet Steve McQueen’s team was sweating it toward the end, but they pulled it off — just as they did at the Golden Globes, after also being shut out for most of the evening. Might the Oscars follow a similar pattern? Or will “Gravity” go one better? The BAFTAs have kept the race thoroughly pliable tonight.