Monday, February 12, 2007


The annual BAFTAs bunfight took place last night. Tuning in to watch the event, broadcast a couple of hours after the fact, I called up the BBC website to remind myself of the nominees and discovered some helpful soul had already posted the winners for each category. Ace! Thanks for that.

Then again, there was only one award I was seriously rooting for.

Since the Venice Film Festival, Helen Mirren has had virtually every award served up to her, except in this country. At the British Independent Film Awards last November she was beaten by Red Road’s Kate Dickie and then last week, at the London Evening Standard British Film Awards, the Best Actress was awarded to Judi Dench for Notes on a Scandal. I’m not saying all the voters should follow like sheep when it comes to ticking the box, and not having seen all the performances I can’t really comment, but there is a certain bloody mindedness in this country to be different just because. Anyway, she won.

This year the BAFTAs came from The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, which made for a better location than the Odeon, Leicester Square, with its tired leopard print seats. (Of course it has been a while since I’ve watched a movie there so they may have re-upholstered).

The other big difference was the change in presenters after Stephen Fry stepped down. I’m a big fan of Fry’s witty and erudite locution. Next year the BAFTA council should make him an offer he can’t refuse and haul him back on stage. Because Jonathan Ross’ shtick was the awards show equivalent of a bad Best man’s speech. After a few embarrassed titters at the outset, each punchline was repeatedly met with a deafening silence that filled the auditorium of Edward Middleton Barry’s architectural masterpiece.*

The material seemed so forced that the arrival of Ricky Gervais to present an award was a welcome relief: “The BAFTA for Best Animated Film goes to... Helen Mirren! Oh, this is getting ridiculous. You can’t even lick a stamp any more.” (Happy Feet actually won).

If Ross was bad, what the hell was with the interviewer pouncing on the recipients backstage as they made their way to the press room? Asking Helen Mirren how she felt was a pretty crass question after she had almost lost it on stage paying tribute to the recently departed Ian Richardson who had been a mentor early on in her career at the RSC.

There were a few no-shows that missed out of being asked stupid questions. Amongst them was Michael Arndt who won Best Original Screenplay for Little Miss Sunshine. At least he had an excuse for not picking up the Best Original Screenplay Award in person. These things will happen when the BAFTAs are handed out the same night as the WGA awards.

After the awards were spread out across a number of competing films (except The Departed), it was great that the annual BAFTA Fellowship was awarded to editor Anne V. Coates, who gave a marvellous speech. After more or less starting out working on Powell & Pressburger’s The Red Shoes she worked for the likes of David Lean, cutting together the miles of footage for Lawrence of Arabia and later helping with the film’s eventual restoration in the late 1980s, Sidney Lumet, John Sturges, David Lynch and Steven Soderbergh. And hey, Potdoll, she also edited Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines!

Seeing the clips from Lawrence of Arabia reminded me of buying the video years back (now replaced on shiny disc obviously). Christ knows what had happened at the duplication plant running off the tapes but the whole attack on Akaba sequence was missing. Maybe they had accidentally omitted one reel. Either way, it cut from travelling through the desert to Lawrence on his camel at the sea.

When I took the tape back, the chap behind the counter at HMV asked if I wanted to replace it with another copy. Only if it has the attack on Akaba, I told him. He stared blankly then told me to pick something else.

* Obviously you've got to have balls of steel to stand on stage and host this kind of ceremony. I hated talking in front of a handful of my fellow students at The Esteemed School of Art. Put in Ross’ place I'd probably wee myself and then scarper.


At 2:57 pm, Blogger Robin Kelly said...

Although saying that, I thought Judi Dench's performance was awesome and she would have got my vote. I love awards season but it shows award giving for art is a pretty daft concept.

At 5:47 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Haven't seen Notes on a Scandal, but from the clips it's still Judi Dench.

Watching The Queen I was astonished by the way Helen Mirren totally disappeared into the role.

At 8:42 pm, Blogger Robin Kelly said...

While I also admired Helen's impersonation, I felt Judi had more to do emotionally and I was astonished at her subtlety. Helen was going to get a BAFTA this year anyway, I'm just glad it was for a very good performance.

At 5:33 pm, Blogger Sal said...

Bring back Stephen Fry! And also, someone should stop Damien Lewis trying to be funny - that must've been the most painful silence, after his non-joke. I too thought Dame Judi had the bigger stretch, acting wise, although Helen Mirren seems to be unstoppable. Very glad to see Paul Greengrass winning.

Thanks for your comment, btw - Chicago architecture is amazing, we spent a while in the Prairie Avenue bookshop and could've stayed longer. Took loads of pics, and will blog about the trip later

At 8:01 pm, Blogger potdoll said...

Did Anne go up diddly up, and then down diddly down when she gave her speech?

At 11:25 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Did Anne go up diddly up, and then down diddly down when she gave her speech?


....oddly enough, NO!


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