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1917 wins big at Baftas to take pole position at Oscars

London – Sweeping World War I odyssey 1917 won big at Sunday’s Bafta awards, landing the best film prize and best director trophy for Sam Mendes, and putting it in line for potential Oscars glory next weekend.

The movie had already scooped the Golden Globe for best drama and has 10 Academy Award nominations including for best picture.

Hailed as a groundbreaking piece of cinema, it scooped seven of the nine prizes it was nominated for at Britain’s top film awards, including in cinematography, production design, sound and special visual effects.

“It’s moving for me to get this in my hometown for the first time,” said Mendes, the first British winner of the best director Bafta since Danny Boyle prevailed in 2009 for Slumdog Millionaire.

“Thank you to all the people who have gone to see this in the cinemas,” he told the star-studded ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

At this year’s Baftas, the same five movies filled the best film and best director nominations.
Joining 1917 and Mendes were Joker (Todd Phillips), South Korean comedy thriller Parasite (Bong Joon-ho), The Irishman (Martin Scorsese) and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino.

The evening proved particularly anti-climatic for the latter two: Tarantino’s comedy-drama won just one award – Brad Pitt, for best supporting actor – while Scorcese’s crime flick finished empty-handed.

But the evening was perhaps equally disappointing for hit film Joker, which led the way with 11 nominations but ended up with just three prizes, including Joaquin Phoenix for best actor.

Renee Zellweger claimed the best actress award for her portrayal of Judy Garland’s late-life comeback tour in Judy, marking a stunning renaissance for her own wide-ranging career.

“This is very humbling,” she said.

“Miss Garland, London town, which you have always loved so much, still loves you back. This is for you.”

Meanwhile, Laura Dern won the best supporting actress gong for Netflix’s divorce tearjerker film Marriage Story.

The ceremony was hosted by TV chat show presenter Graham Norton, with Prince William and his wife Kate adding some royal glamour in his 10th year as Bafta president.

The prince presented the Academy Fellowship, its highest accolade, to US producer Kathleen Kennedy, the boss of Lucasfilm, and behind some of the biggest-grossing movies ever.

Meanwhile, British actor Andy Serkis received the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award for his pioneering motion-capture acting for computer-generated characters. - AFP

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