Nomadland, Chloe Zhao’s elegiac drama about the lives of aging city dwellers in America, confirmed its leading position at the Oscars with four wins at the 74th Bafta Awards, including Best Picture.
Zhao won the award for best director, making her the second woman – after Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 – to win the award. Nomadland also won photography and lead actress for Frances McDormand.
McDormand did not attend the ceremony, even virtually, which took place in a deserted, red-light drenched Royal Albert Hall, with co-hosts Edith Bowman and Dermot O’Leary arguing over a handful of presenters in person and dozens of nominated related videos. A small audience present via their laptops often provided weird laughter and applause.
Zhao, 39, who zoomed in wearing a plaid flannel shirt and overalls, thanked the community of real nomads who welcomed her and her crew.
“Thank you for showing us that getting older is a great part of life,” she said. “A trip we should all cherish and celebrate. The way we treat our seniors says a lot about who we are as a society and we need to do better. “
In fact, the Baftas had considerable respect for their most venerable members, Anthony Hopkins, 83, becoming the oldest acting male winner, beating frontrunner Chadwick Boseman, who was to win posthumously for his role in Black Bottom of My Rainey.
Hopkins won for his role in The Father, Florian Zeller’s adaptation of his play about a man with dementia. The oldest eldest, Emmanuelle Riva, was 84 when she won for her role in another dementia drama, Love by Michael Haneke.
Hopkins also did not appear to accept his award, but appeared on video at a press conference later, saying he was “amazed” to receive his third best actor Bafta. He had been working on his canvases at the time of the announcement, he said.
“I’m sitting here covered in paint,” Hopkins said, “and heard a massive cheer next to it. I thought it was a football game.
Hopkins then compared his character’s confusion in the film to the universal disorientation caused by the pandemic: “We are in another reality; we are losing our anchors. “
Zeller also won Best Suited Screenplay alongside Christopher Hampton; The original screenplay went to Emerald Fennell, the first writer / director so far best known for her acting work on The Crown, in which she played Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Fennell’s film, a rape-revenge comedy set in the United States and starring Carey Mulligan, also took on an outstanding British film. Fennell, sitting alone in a ballroom, eating a Bafta chocolate, expressed her thanks to the cast and crew for their contribution to “a labor of love; everyone did it pretty much for a packet of crisps ”.
Promising Young Woman broke a list of 10 films for the award, including Rocks, Sarah Gavron’s coming-of-age tale about a diverse group of schoolgirls in London, which had been widely advertised for the win.
In the end, that film returned home with the Best Cast and Rising Star Award for actor Bukky Bakray, who in a moving speech paid tribute to rapper DMX, who died on Saturday, as well as to his recently deceased friends and family.
“Sleep well for all those who have passed away last year and this year,” she said, “who have gone to bed endlessly. I truly believe that it is the love and the light that you have left on this universe that holds us all back today.
The best foreign language film went to Another Round, which stars Mads Mikkelsen as the leader of a gang of teachers looking to spend an entire term of schooling drunk.
Zooming in from Sweden, writer / director Thomas Vinterberg paid tribute to his 19-year-old daughter, Ida, who was killed in a car crash four days after filming.
“She was more excited about this project than anyone,” he said. “We made this movie for her.” After a hiatus from production, the film is over, much of it shot at Ida’s school with her classmates.
Star of Minari Youn Yuh-jung confirmed a late momentum with a victory in the category of supporting actresses. In a disarming speech, the veteran South Korean star, 83, offered his condolences to Britain on the death of the Duke of Edinburgh and said he was particularly pleased with the victory as everyone knows the British are “very snobbish”.
Daniel Kaluuya followed the Golden Globe supporting actor wins at the Screen Actors Guild with additional silverware for his role as Black Panther president Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah. “It’s an honor to be a ship for him,” said Kaluuya, who also thanked three key cultural figures from his childhood: “Cathy Tyson, Roy Williams and Ashley Waters, for being a light and guiding the path. “
Remi Weekes, the writer / director of the famous Netflix horror film His House, was also keen to thank the minority voices who inspired him by accepting his award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.
Weekes, 34, dedicated her award to immigrants, migrants, “the black and brown and queer people who nurtured and raised me.” I look forward to doing the same for you.
The shortlists for this year’s Baftas were the most inclusive in the history of the organization, with 16 of 24 acting nominees from people of color; in 2020, they were all white.
The 2021 nominees justified a series of 120 sweeping changes introduced in the wake of last year’s hegemony. These included a membership overhaul, with mandatory viewing statuses and most shortlists being determined by a jury, rather than a blanket vote.
So it was always likely that the end results – voted on by all members – would be more traditional than the remarkably progressive shortlists. Still, the organization will be relieved that last year’s embarrassment has been comfortably avoided.
The populist vote was perhaps best illustrated by the victory in the category of best documentary for My Octopus Teacher, over heavyweight contenders such as Collective (on medical corruption in Romania) and The Dissident (on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi).
Investigating the relationship between filmmaker Craig Foster and a wild common octopus in a South African kelp forest, the shellfish documentary turned out to be a surprise hit for Netflix. Crying co-director Pippa Ehrlich concluded her thanks with a shout to “a very special little octopus who has opened hearts all over the world”.
Mank, who heads to the Oscars in a fortnight, the leader of the scorecard, with 10 nominations, has won just one award, for production design. The Trial of the Chicago 7, News of the World, and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm all went home empty-handed.
Hugh Grant introduced the Bafta Fellowship to its Sense and Sensibility director Ang Lee, the Taiwanese director whose production made so many genre leaps that Grant suggested he had been cloned.
This year’s Baftas were to include a speech by Prince William on the resilience of the film industry. After the death of his grandfather, Prince Philip, on Friday, the Duke of Cambridge withdrew from the ceremony, which nevertheless began with a tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh.