Baftas 2019: Five biggest talking points, from Olivia Colman's win to Eddie Marsan's Brexit remark
The Favourite ruled a night that was as big for the Brits and it was for Mexico
Awards season travelled across the seas tonight as our very own British Academy Film Awards – otherwise known as the Baftas - took place. It was an opportunity to reward homegrown talent, certainly, but the ceremony served to put the pieces into place ahead of the Oscars, which takes place in just two weeks.
At this year’s Baftas, The Favourite led the nominations with 12 leaving Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma trailing behind with seven – not that having the numbers on your side is any guarantee of victory on the night. However, on this occasion, it did.
Below are the evening's biggest talking points.
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The Favourite ruled the night, despite Roma winning Best Film
The Baftas had dual victors when it came to the ceremony. It was a night that belonged to both Yorgos Lanthimos’s historical drama, which won seven awards, and Alfonso Cuarón’s Netflix-produced drama Roma, which won four awards.
The Favourite may have a Greek director in Lanthimos, but the period piece received significant British funding, alongside being anchored by a British story (a love triangle between Queen Anne and two confidantes) and a largely UK-hailing cast, including Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz, who won Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively.
The film not only won Outstanding British Film, but also won for Original Screenplay, Production Design and Make Up & Hair. Roma, meanwhile, won the ultimate prize of the night, Best Film. Cuaron also won for Director, Cinematography and Film Not in the English Language.
Joanna Lumley played it (too) safe
When Britain is currently facing one of the most turbulent political crises of recent history, it seems so faint-hearted of the ceremony to keep proceedings so… dry. Host Joanna Lumley’s monologue failed to deliver any topical gags, mostly consisting of a string of compliments and a cute joke about how The Favourite was, indeed, the night’s favourite. The only real jabs were saved for the Oscars and A Star is Born director Bradley Cooper. “Thank goodness Bafta has a host, though I suspect that has to do with the fact that I’m not on Twitter,” Lumley joked early on. Oscars organisers have confirmed that this year’s ceremony will have no official host for the first time in 30 years, after Kevin Hart stepped down when a number of old tweets resurfaced in which the comedian expressed homophobic views.
Cooper, who is the star, director, producer, and screenwriter of A Star is Born, was declared by Lumley to be a “multi-talented genius” who “needs to learn how to delegate”. While referencing Alfonso Cuarón’s nominations in six different categories, Lumley then turned to Cooper and added: “pull your finger out, sweetheart”.
Only Eddie Marsan truly stepped up
The speeches, too, were kept oddly short and free of political comment. Accepting the prize for Best Film, Cuarón expressed his gratitude for Roma winning during a time “when fear and anger would divide us” – perhaps he’s saving his most direct attacks on Trump’s policies for when he (very likely) wins at the upcoming Academy Awards. Andy Serkis made a quick reference while presenting the prize for Original Music, noting that: “Music is like Laurel without Hardy, Queen without Freddie Mercury - it's Britain without Europe”.
The most controversial comment of the evening by far was made by presenter Eddie Marsan. While presenting the award for Best Costume Design with Cynthia Erivo, the actor described the difficulty of creating historically accurate costumes for films. He then added that it was particularly difficult to do since Britain had “reinvented its past to justify Brexit”. Perhaps the winners simply had no time, with such truncated speeches, to make their political case.
Rami Malek solidified his place as an Oscars frontrunner
Although it wasn’t certain that Roma and The Favourite would share awards quite in the way that they did, the night wasn’t particularly filled with surprises. Mahershala Ali beat Richard E Grant, the expected winner, to Best Supporting Actor, winning for his role as jazz musician Don Shirley in Green Book. Rami Malek, meanwhile, cemented himself as the favourite when it comes to the Academy Awards, winning Best Actor for his role as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Thanking Dexter Fletcher, who stepped in as director when Bryan Singer was fired from the project, Malek said: “Thank you so much to Queen and to greatest outsider of them all, for being so unwavering and unflinching and uncompromising in every which way – thank you again, Freddie Mercury.”
Letitia Wright proves the power of Marvel
Letitia Wright’s win for the publicly voted Rising Star Award proved that Marvel will always have its sway when it comes to the average cinemagoer. Although she’s proven herself time and time again in her performances – from Black Mirror to Young Vic’s staging of The Convert – it’s her role as Black Panther’s fan favourite character, inventor Shuri, that ultimately won her prize. In her speech, she said: “I identify myself as a child of God and I can’t get up here without thanking God. A few years ago, I saw myself in a deep state of depression and I literally wanted to quit acting.” She then credited God for helping her through this period, alongside an e-mail from Bafta asking her to take part in its Breakthrough Brits programme. “So this wasn’t an overnight thing. This wasn’t a click of the finger success. I’m still a work in progress,” she added. “I want to thank everybody that said yes to me.”