La La Land, a film telling the story of an aspiring actress and a dedicated jazz musician struggling to make ends meet while pursuing their dreams, won Britain’s top movie prize Sunday.
The film won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) movie awards for best film and four other prizes at the glittering ceremony at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
The BAFTA awards are part of the annual movie awards season, and indicate films which may get nominations for Hollywood’s Oscars.
Accepting the trophy for best leading actress for her starring role in La La Land, Emma Stone said “this country – and the U.S., and the world – seems to be going through a bit of a time, just a bit.”
“In a time that’s so divisive I think it’s so special we were able to come together tonight thanks to BAFTA, to celebrate the positive gift of creativity and how it can transcend borders and how it can help people to feel a little less alone,” she noted.
The award for best director went to Damien Chazelle of La La Land, another big gong for the movie tipped beforehand to win a clutch of awards.
Meanwhile, Justin Hurwitz won the award for original music for La La Land. The BAFTA for Cinematography also went to Linus Sandgren for the same film, completing a successful night for the U.S. movie.
The prize for the outstanding British film went to the movie I, Daniel Blake, a story that documents life in the welfare state of 21st century Britain. Director of the film, Ken Loach, thanked the people of the northern England city of Newcastle, where the film is set.
Casey Affleck won the best actor award for his role in “Manchester by the Sea,” which also won Kenneth Lonergan the award for best original screenplay.
Lonergan said Affleck had given “one of the most brilliant performances I’ve ever seen – or think I will” in a film about looking grief and sorrow in the face.”
He thanked the audience “for recognizing the message of what the film says, that the most vulnerable people are treated by this government with a callous brutality that is disgraceful.”
“It’s a brutality that extends to keeping out refugee children that we promised to help, and that’s a disgrace too,” he said.
Dev Patel won the BAFTA for best supporting actor for his role in Lion, while Viola Davis won best supporting actress for her performance in Fences, paying tribute to August Wilson who wrote the play on which the film was based.
The award for production design was won for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, based on the book by Harry Potter creator J. K. Rowling.
Winner of the award for best special visual effects was The Jungle Book.
John Gilbert won the award for best editing for World War Two epic, Hacksaw Ridge.
Among the stars and VIP guests arriving on the red carpet were Prince William and Princess Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. During the ceremony the royal couple handed a BAFTA fellowship to the celebrated producer Mel Brooks.
Accepting the award, the iconic Hollywood veteran said “to choose an American is mighty nice of you, mighty nice.”
Brooks joked to the audience that he did not consider Britain “a separate country to the U.S., but rather a vast Brooklyn that just speaks better.”
Luke Davies received an award for the adapted screenplay for Lion, and paid tribute to Sunny Pawar, the five-year-old non-professional actor who stared as a young Saroo in Lion. Davies described him as a “discovery for the ages.”
The best documentary prize went to 13th, a film about the U.S. criminal justice system.
The BAFTA is an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image — film, television and game in Britain.
In addition to its annual award ceremonies, BAFTA has an international year-round program of learning events and initiatives offering access to talents through workshops, master classes, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes in Britain and the United States. Enditem