Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog has beaten Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast to best film at the 75th British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) Awards.
The powerful neo-western also won best director for Campion and, having triumphed at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) on Saturday night, advances as a strong favourite for the corresponding awards at the imminent Oscars. There is a significant overlap between the electorates for the British and American prizes. Last year, best picture, best director and all the acting gongs tallied.
It was a disappointing evening for Branagh’s monochrome autobiographical drama. Nominated in six categories, Belfast, a Northern Ireland Screen production, won only best British film, but the director remained buoyant.
“All hail the streaming revolution, but all hail the big screen too. It’s alive!” he said. “Thank you very much to British cinema audiences for watching a UK and Irish film at a UK and Ireland cinema.”
For the first time in living memory, there was no crossover between the Oscars and the British academy in the nominees for best actress. Joanna Scanlan, whose family are originally from Passage West in Cork, passed out Lady Gaga to take that prize for her turn as recently widowed British Muslim woman in After Love. "Some stories have surprise endings, don't they?" she said.
Half of the six nominees for best supporting actress were Irish. But Jessie Buckley, Ruth Negga and Caitríona Balfe lost to hot favourite Ariana DeBose for her electric turn as Anita in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story. DeBose is now a near-unbackable favourite for the Oscars. "I am someone who sings, dances, acts," she said. "I speak dance better than I speak English. I am honoured by this recognition."
Ryusuke Hamaguchi's Drive My Car, winner of best film not in the English language, was another bookies' favourite to inch closer to the corresponding Academy Award. Will Smith continued his own advance to the big prize with a win in the best actor category for his performance as Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, in the engaging biopic King Richard, but the Philadelphian was not in London for the ceremony. Campion, who had been at the DGA in Los Angeles the previous night, was also a regretful no-show.
Ciarán Hinds, nominated in best supporting actor for Belfast, lost out to the deaf actor Troy Kotsur. A recent winner with the Screen Actors Guild for a touching, funny turn in Sian Heder's CODA, Kotsur now looks to have edge over Kodi Smit-McPhee, early front-runner for The Power of the Dog, in a busy Oscar race. "I'd just like to say congratulations to James Bond 007 for the 60th anniversary," he said. "Hold on, have you considered maybe a deaf James Bond? 008?"
First premiered at the Sundance Film Festival over a year ago, CODA, the story of a deaf fishing family in New England, is very much on the rise. Its surprising victory over The Power of the Dog in best adapted screenplay confirms the Apple TV release as a serious player. None of those contenders could, however, beat the five Baftas taken by Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. That science fiction epic has been shovelling up awards in technical categories since its premiere at the Venice film festival in September.
The ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall offered a lively, sometimes cheesy return to in-person action after last year’s subdued virtual ceremony. Rebel Wilson, irreverent and occasionally risque, proved an effective host. “I heard they’re already going to make an American version of Belfast called Belfast and Belfurious,” she said in one of her less-lubricious asides.
The biggest ovation of the night may have been for Dame Shirley Bassey, there to celebrate 60 years of the James Bond franchise, after she blasted her way through Diamonds Are Forever with lungs apparently undiminished.
The 75th Bafta Awards in full
The Power of the Dog
The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion
Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson
CODA, Sian Heder
Joanna Scanlan, After Love
Will Smith, King Richard
Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Troy Kotsur, CODA
Dune, Hans Zimmer
West Side Story, Cindy Tolan
Dune, Greig Fraser
No Time to Die, Tom Cross, Elliot Graham
Dune, Patrice Vermette, Zsuzsanna Sipos
Cruella, Jenny Beavan
Makeup & Hair
The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram, Justin Raleigh
Dune, Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Doug Hemphill, Theo Green, Ron Bartlett
Special Visual Effects
Dune, Brian Connor, Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Gerd Nefzer
Outstanding British Film
Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
The Harder They Fall, Jeymes Samuel (writer/director)
Film Not in the English Language
Drive My Car
Summer Of Soul (Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
British Short Animation
Do Not Feed the Pigeons, Jordi Morera
British Short Film
The Black Cop, Cherish Oteka