Before we get into BAFTA, here are a pair of presents.
Looking up from the work at hand — bringing home as many Oscars as possible — a couple of studios have watched what big money PACs have wrought, and liked what they saw: money = influence. . No, no, no, this time it’s a good thing. These featurettes were made in the hope of swaying voters, but they’re shameless fun all the same. (Okay, the von Sydow piece is truly barefaced and blatant fun, and it diminishes my ardor for him not one scintilla.) .
Take another brief look at the incomparable Hugo.
Here’s a celebration of the equally incomparable Max von Sydow.
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I’ve been trying to puzzle out why last night’s BAFTA Awards show went down so smoothly, at least at this house. Not the awards themselves — a few things to talk about there — but the feeling of the event.
It may be a certain British take on life in general that seems so appealing. Offer a wild opinion to the kind of Englishman now owned by Colin Firth, and his opening salvo is, “Yes, well. . ” It has to do with reticence, a deep level of wit and intelligence, and the sense — rightly or not –that the person you’re speaking to is as least as quick as you are. It’s so flattering, really.
The show last night seemed to be steeped in that attitude. It gets on with things. Even thought it’s held at the Royal Opera House, it seemed intimate, certainly compared to whereever they house the Oscars, where the vastness is always chilling.
BAFTA seems blessedly anti-banter (Aussies excepted), which usually means a single presenter, even a grown-up, who gives a short intro that gets briskly to the point. Although music is recognized, there are no song awards,and thus no music production numbers. Think of the time your life gets back, right there.
If they have a house band, I don’t remember it, but nothing drowns out the winners who, peculiarly enough, have short and sometimes moving things to say. There seems to be the expectation that they will have something to offer, beyond thanks to their wife (first or current), to everyone they’ve ever met in the Industry, to their parents and to the god that made them. And this is an example of the thanks they do get:
Winning the Best Adapted Screenplay for Tinker,Tailor, Soldier, Spy Peter Straughan first acknowledged the beginning of The Artist’s mop-up job of 7 awards in all, with, “I’d just like to thank The Artist for not being based on a book.” Then, he took the award for himself and his late wife and co-writer, Bridget O’Connor, whose clear blue eyes had just shone down from the BAFTA clip of artists lost in 2011, saying “She wrote all the good bits, I made the coffee.”
(Straughan has been on these pages a lot recently. When there’s time, I’ll share bits of his blog, which may make you a follower, too.)
The huge gang of dedicated filmmakers who made the insanely watchable doc Senna were exceptionally moving, even for those inured to the “glamour” of F1 racing. They thanked the young driver’s parents for entrusting them to present the very fabric of his life, over at 34.
The BAFTA folks gave the towering Stephen Fry the job of Minder, because he’s already proven that he has one. He wasn’t auditioning for anything or compensating for anything. If at times you may have thought Oscar Wilde had taken over, well, it could certainly have been worse. Say to yourself: Stephen Fry. Eddie Murphy. Stephen Fry. Eddie Murphy. If a fit of pique and homophobia by designated Oscar producer Brett Ratner hadn’t surfaced early on chez Oscar, necessitating a change in producer and his choice of host, those would have been our contrasts in style. Fortunately for us, Billy Crystal knows the house.
As for the awards themselves (those small, gaping bronze masks), I don’t really begrudge The Artist any of their 7 except the one that should have gone to Gary Oldman. (British reticence, this time working against him.) Jean Dujardin is a charmer, he’s been everywhere that Meryl Streep hasn’t and he’s big enough so that we’re fairly certain he won’t start clambering over the theatre seats like a manic French Roberto Benigni of unlovely memory. Still and all. . .I feel for Oldman.
It’s no secret that I had a favorite here, and still do. Have to say, though, things seem far brighter to know that the Brits may loathe Mrs. Thatcher, but not her spirit-catcher.
Everyone at BAFTA was treated to one of the reasons we over here adore everything that makes up Meryl, and no one I’ve read captured the split personality that is Streep at work and Streep just being herself better than The Guardian’s Xan Brooks, so I turn this over to her:
“Ask Meryl Streep to play-act for the camera and the result is pristine professionalism, icy exactitude and self-possession that verges on the eerie. Ask her to collect an award and you get the polar opposite, a rumble-tumble Feydeau farce. At Sunday night’s BAFTAs, the Iron Lady star bounded on stage with such devil-may-care exuberance that she lost her shoe en route.
‘Well, that couldn’t have gone worse,” Streep chortled, having clearly forgotten her appearance at last month’s Golden Globes. On that occasion she rocked up without her spectacles, shouted, ‘Oh shit, my glasses!’ and thereby triggered the telecast’s seven second time delay (the broadcaster’s equivalent of the red button or the ejector seat.)
[Reporter Brooks complains that over the years, awards shows have become “rigorously policed and stage managed” and that this year’s BAFTA “played out like morphine through a drip.” ]
“So, thank heaven for Streep, with her flying shoe and her mislaid specs; her off-piste [sic] outbursts and scatty good humour. Undeniably, she gives a fine performance in The Iron Lady. And yet her ongoing tour-de-force on the awards circuit — playing the dotty aunt, the agent of chaos — is at least its equal. Streep is electrifying, she’s turbulent; you can’t take your eyes off her. Maybe she should get an award or something.”