Rings Wins Best Film

Return of the King takes BAFTA crown

by empire |
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It was Peter Jackson's turn to smile like a particularly satiated cat that had just scoffed all the cream last night, as Return of the King received a total of four awards at this year's BAFTA ceremony, including the evening's star prize: the award for Best Film. Making his way to the stage time after time, director Peter Jackson conveyed his unending gratitude as his final instalment took Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Special Visual Effects. While not technically an official BAFTA, the film was also honoured a sixth time by the Orange Film of the Year award, as voted for by the public. Stephen Fry once more hosted the increasingly star-studded event, ensuring a silky smooth running for the proceedings with his unique brand of camp British humour. "Welcome," he bade the audience, "to the Orange British Academy Film Awards, coming to you from Leicester Square - which is neither in Leicester nor especially square." When giving a few pointers on how winners should conduct themselves, Fry encouraged them to run to the stage "like a performance-enhanced Seabiscuit." He did, however, ask them not to spend too much time hogging the podium, "if your speeches are in proportion to the length of your films," he mused, "then God help us all." Jackson wasn't the only Peter to have a decidedly uplifting evening. Master and Commander director Peter Weir saw his film take an equal number of gongs during the night, including Production Design, Costume Design, Sound and the David Lean Award for Best director. Weir couldn't make the ceremony himself but actor Paul Bettany did a fine job standing in for him and accepted the Best Director statuette on his behalf. Sliding into third place was Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation, a sublime film that seems to have divided audiences into love it or loathe it camps. Fortunately, however, the British Academy leaned towards the former and sent the film on to take three awards including both Best Actress for Scarlett Johansson and Best actor for Bill Murray. These provided two of the most touching speeches of the evening with Johansson emotionally thanking her mother "for driving me to auditions and buying me hotdogs afterwards," and Sofia Coppola reading a fax from Murray (who had just returned home after a six month shoot in Italy) praising Britain and, much to her embarrassment, extolling the virtues of his director. Anthony Minghella once more found himself snubbed for Cold Mountain but managed to content himself with a win for Renee Zellweger - who beat the likes of Emma Thompson, Laura Linney and Holly Hunter to take Best Supporting Actress - and The Anthony Asquith Awards for Achievement in Film Music. The latter of the two was presented by an amusing LL Cool J who, in his best plummy accent, supposed that the audience must be wondering: "who is that black fellow - his earrings are splendid!" Albert Finney, who many thought a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actor, found the excellent Bill Nighy taking his place a the podium for his role as burned out rock star Billy Mack in Richard Curtis' Love Actually. "You've made an old rocker very happy," said Nighy, who reserved a special vote of thanks to Curtis' partner, Emma Freud, "One of the few people who still encourages me to air guitar." Sofia Coppola surprised many by failing to take Best Original Screenplay, an honour that instead went to Station Agent scribe, Tom McCarthy who sweetly thanked "my brother Bill for showing up - free air ticket, free hotel, how could he not come?" But one of the evening's biggest surprises was that neither Love Actually nor Cold Mountain landed Best British Film; rather that honour went to Touching The Void, the amazing true story of imperilled climbers on a remote Peruvian mountain. Working Title Films was honoured the Michael Balcon Awards for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema, recognising the stream of exceptional films the company has produced. The second, and most prestigious, of the special awards was the Academy Fellowship, which was presented to director John Boorman for an astounding career that has brought us such titles as Deliverance and Excalibur. All in all the ceremony looked to be running without a hitch until sod's law intervened and a monitor malfunction caused the show to be halted for five minutes while the main screen was repaired. "They should have used a Mac," commented Fry after trying valiantly to entertain the restless audience with a well-told joke, "PCs are useless." Luckily though, the technical difficulties were overcome and, thanks to the BBC's tardy two-hour delay in broadcasting the event, none but those present will ever know about it. BAFTA Feature & Gallery For the full list of winners and pictures from the night, click **here.

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