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BAFTAs 2020 winners & roundup

The winners of the 73rd British Academy film awards have been announced, and if you’ll pardon the expression, 1917 blew the opposition away.

Following Ricky Gervais’ scathing routine at the Golden Globes last month, it’s safe to say Hollywood’s elite needed their egos massaging a little. Thankfully for them, the annual BAFTAs arrived in the nick of time over the weekend. But, as always with these ceremonies, the celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall were marred by hefty helping of controversy. What would a show biz shindig be without it after all? Here’s the 4-1-1.

The Winners

To the surprise of literally no one, Sam Mendes’ emotive war epic 1917 cleaned up on the night; raking in accolades for ‘best picture’, ‘director’, ‘British film’, ‘sound design’, ‘cinematography’, ‘production design’, ‘special effects’ and ‘make up & hair’. The only surprise is that the many French and German passages didn’t nab Mendes the award for ‘best foreign film’.

Like the Golden Globes, the night’s major acting prizes were again gobbled up by Joaquin Phoenix and Renee Zellweger for their lead performances in Joker and Judy. Al Pacino was shockingly snubbed for his seminal outing as loquacious union activist Jimmy Hoffa (The Irishman), with Brad Pitt getting the nod instead for ‘Cliff Booth’ in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. As expected, Laura Dern took the prize for ‘best supporting actress’ in Marriage Story.

To the delight of our social media guru Milo, Korean dark comedy Parasite was awarded the best ‘foreign language film’, taking a mask for ‘best original screenplay’ to boot. And Joker made it a hattrick on the night with wins in ‘original score’ and ‘casting’. Having been heavily tipped to win an award throughout January, satirical comedy-drama Jojo Rabbit deservedly took a BAFTA for ‘adapted screenplay’.

Click here for the full list of BAFTA winners.

The Diversity Issue

It’s time to tackle that big ol’ elephant again. The BAFTA academy must have let out a collective cry of anguish seconds after Graham Norton took to the stage, as the brazen host wasted no time in shining a spotlight on the institution’s glaring and continued lack of diversity in its nominees.

Norton opened the show by claiming it was ‘the year when white men finally broke through’, before commending Joker – ‘a story of a white man who makes himself even whiter’ – on its 11 nominations. While the jokes were well delivered and landed with most of the audience, the irrefutable truth behind them is anything but funny. It’s become something of a trope that film industry acclaim is predominantly dolled out by white men, to white men. And while film institutions refute these claims, the latest ceremony has only bolstered that belief.

Worryingly, all 20 nominees vying for various acting BAFTAs were white, and the academy have still yet to stop the rot in regard to overlooking female directors – with the last female nominee for ‘best director’ coming way back in 2013.

If the BAFTA organisers were hoping the storm had passed with Norton’s exit, they were swiftly dragged back into choppy waters again when Joaquin Phoenix stepped up. Phoenix revealed he felt ‘conflicted’ about accepting his BAFTA because other ‘deserving’ actors ‘don’t have the same privilege’. His message was clear to most, but for anyone who found a hint of ambiguity, he left none in his closing inditement: ‘We send a very clear message to people of colour that you are not welcome here’.

What to take away from this

At this rate it seems we’ll never get a hitch free awards ceremony where the hottest topic isn’t diversity 48 hours on. The Oscars faced censure late last month for their list of nominees, with the ‘OscarAllWhite’ hashtag resurfacing for the first time since the mid noughties, and weeks later the BAFTAs adds insult to injury with an all white actors line-up.

While we must recognise that the industry is full of some of the most privileged people on the planet, and is therefore predominantly white, that doesn’t mean that it’s okay for its content to under-represent society as a whole. Film is a medium adored by everyone and everyone involved deserves an equal opportunity to win the most prestigious prizes it has to offer.

Western society today is more progressive and inclusive than ever before regarding gender, sex, and ethnicity. Its industries should be the same.



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