'Boyhood' scoops top prize at British film awards
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Slow-cooked coming-of-age tale “Boyhood” took the best film and director trophies at the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday, while Wes Anderson’s candy-colored comedy “The Grand Budapest Hotel” won the biggest haul of prizes, with five.
Both are unusual works by distinctive directors, and there were also multiple trophies for the Stephen Hawking biopic “The Theory of Everything” and the jazz-drumming drama “Whiplash” at an event that proved small, personal films could emerge as winners.
Awards-season high-flyer “Birdman” had its wings clipped, taking only a cinematography prize from 10 nominations. And World War II code-breaking drama “The Imitation Game” won nothing despite nine nominations.
Richard Linklater, who spent 12 years making “Boyhood,” was named best director, and Patricia Arquette won the supporting-actress trophy as a struggling mother in the film.
Arquette said Linklater had set out to show “how extraordinary an ordinary life is.” “Boyhood” star Ellar Coltrane, who grew from 6 to 18 onscreen, thanked British voters for rewarding “an exercise of collaboration and vulnerability.”
The British awards, known as the BAFTAs, are considered an indicator of likely success at Hollywood’s Academy Awards later this month.
“The Theory of Everything” was named best British film, and won an acapted-screenplay award for Anthony McCarten.
Eddie Redmayne, already an awards-season favorite, won the best-actor prize for his performance as physicist Hawking, who probed the cosmos while his body was wracked by motor neuron disease.
Redmayne said the evening went much better than his last BAFTA appearance, which he spent vomiting backstage with food poisoning when he was supposed to be presenting an award.
“It was one of the worst nights of my life,” Redmayne said. “This is one of the best nights of my life.”
The actor paid an emotional tribute to Hawking, his ex-wife Jane and their families, “for reminding me of the great strength that comes from the will to live a full and passionate life.”
Julianne Moore was named best actress for portraying a professor with Alzheimer’s in “Still Alice.”
Anderson won the original screenplay trophy for “The Grand Budapest Hotel", which also took prizes for production design, costumes, hair and makeup and Alexandre Desplat’s score.
Damien Chazelle’s jazz-drumming drama “Whiplash” - a taut psychological showdown that was shot in 19 days - took prizes for sound and editing. The supporting actor trophy went to the film’s J.K. Simmons, a stalwart character actor who is finally receiving major awards recognition.
“The Lego Movie” was named best animated feature, a prize the filmmakers said helped ease the pain of its Oscars snub.
“You are our favorite academy by far,” said co-director Phil Lord.
British actor Jack O’Connell, star of “71” and “Unbroken,” won the Rising Star award, the only trophy decided by public vote. The others are chosen by several thousand members of the British film academy.
The Oscar-nominated Polish film “Ida” won the award for best film not in the English language.
The awards ceremony is British cinema’s glitziest event, and an important stop for Hollywood awards hopefuls. Steve Carell, Michael Keaton, Amy Adams and Reese Witherspoon were among the American actors who walked the red carpet before the ceremony at London’s Royal Opera House.
British stars included Kristin Scott Thomas and Rosamund Pike, soccer great David Beckham and Hawking, who received a huge ovation when he appeared onstage to present the visual effects award to “Interstellar.”
British talent has been especially well represented in Hollywood this year, led by multiple awards nominations for “The Theory of Everything” and “The Imitation Game.”
BAFTA organizers said that acclaimed civil rights drama “Selma,” which stars British actor David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr., was overlooked because it arrived in Britain too late for academy members to see it. The film’s tally of just two Oscar nominations helped spark a debate about Hollywood’s lack of diversity.
“Imitation Game” star Benedict Cumberbatch said the omission of “Selma” was the “one bitter note” of the event.
“I wish David Oyelowo was here with us as well,” he said. “I’ll be honoring him in my head tonight.”
The British academy also overlooked Mike Leigh’s artist biopic “Mr. Turner” in the major categories, despite critical praise and a Cannes best-actor prize for star Timothy Spall.
But Leigh was not forgotten. He received a lifetime honor, the British Academy Fellowship, for a body of films blending social realism and sly humor.
The awards are presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, which hosts a separate ceremony for TV programs.
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