Migration saga Nomadland, and the British film Rocks are among favourites at Sunday’s British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards, billed as the academy’s most diverse year ever, following criticism over an all-white 2020 shortlists
The first night of the awards, broadcast without an audience due to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, began with tributes to Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, who died last week.
“It was Prince Philip and Her Majesty the Queen’s support throughout these years that in many ways allowed BAFTA, a leading charity in the arts, to continue in difficult times,” presenter Clara Amfo said.
Prince William, Prince Philip’s grandson and second-in-line to the British throne, did not participate in the awards as previously planned.
The film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, about a blues musician in 1920s Chicago, took home two technical Baftas for Costume Design, and Make-Up and Hair.
The films Rocks and Mank, a depiction of a debauched real-life screenwriter set during Hollywood’s golden age, also bagged a prize each for casting and production design, respectively, as the awards were split over two nights for the first time.
Other winners in the technical awards included Christopher Nolan’s science fiction action-thriller Tenet for special visual effects, and Sound of Metal, starring British actor Riz Ahmed, for sound.
The main awards ceremony, also without an audience, was broadcasted from London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Director Chloé Zhao’s poignant film Nomadland, about modern-day migrants travelling across the US, was nominated in and won the coveted best film and best director categories. Two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand won for best actress.
The film was also shortlisted in the best film category alongside The Father, a film about an elderly man contending with dementia, and The Mauritanian, a legal thriller about a Guantanamo Bay prisoner. Needless to say, Nomadland also won for best film.
Promising Young Woman, a feminist dark comedy, and Aaron Sorkin’s courtroom drama The Trial of the Chicago 7 completed the nominees.
With a total of seven nominations including best director, best cast, and best original screenplay, director Sarah Gavron’s Rocks had the potential to be a home-grown sensation at the awards.
The coming-of-age drama, which shows the struggles of a British-Nigerian schoolgirl who is abandoned by her mother, has been praised by critics for its depiction of life in the British capital.
Actress Bukky Bakray, 19, who has garnered a best actress nomination for her role as the film’s eponymous heroine, told AFP that audiences had connected with her performance and the film because of their authenticity.
“It captures what most people have always felt but never truly seen on screen. I’m really proud and honoured to have captured truth and honesty,” she said.
Mank and Minari, the portrayal of a South Korean family trying to make a life in rural America, also received six nominations each, along with The Father and Promising Young Woman.
After the awards were criticised for not including any non-white actors in the four major categories for the first time, the British academy has introduced an extra round of voting in all categories to strive for greater diversity.
In the best actor category, French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim, Indian actor Adarsh Gourav, black American actor Chadwick Boseman, who died last year, and British actor Riz Ahmed, also the first Muslim to be nominated for an Oscar, were shortlisted.
Director Ang Lee, best known for the films Sense and Sensibility, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and The Life of Pi received the prestigious Bafta Academy Fellowship on Sunday evening.