image

Fame and celebrity

La La Land takes five Baftas, but it’s no landslide, as social realism adds grit to the glamour

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 February, 2017, 12:41pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 February, 2017, 10:25pm

Glamour was shot through with grit at the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday.

Frothy musical La La Land took five prizes including best picture, but major awards also went to tough welfare-state drama I, Daniel Blake and fractured-family stories Lion and Manchester by the Sea.

In keeping with an awards season that has coincided with a wrenching change of government in the United States, even La La Land’s prizes came with a political tinge.

Accepting the best-actress trophy for playing a barista who dreams of Hollywood stardom, Emma Stone said that “this country and the US, and the world seems to be going through a bit of a time.”

She said that in a divided world, it was vital to celebrate “the positive gift of creativity and how it can transcend borders and how it help people to feel a little less alone.”

The UK awards, known as Baftas, are often seen as an indicator of who will win at Hollywood’s Academy Awards, held two weeks later. La La Land already is a dominant force at the Oscars, with 14 nominations. It also has won seven Golden Globes.

La La Land had 11 nominations for the British awards and won prizes for Stone, director Damien Chazelle, music and cinematography as well as best picture.

But while the luscious musical was an academy favourite, voters also rewarded less escapist fare.

Stone’s co-star, Ryan Gosling, lost out on the best-actor prize to Casey Affleck, who played a grieving handyman in Manchester by the Sea.

Affleck, who is also Oscar-nominated for the role, thanked writer-director Kenneth Lonergan for creating a film that “dignifies everyday lives and their struggles with great compassion.”

The wintry New England drama also won Lonergan the prize for best original screenplay.

British actor Dev Patel pulled off an upset, beating favorite Mahershala Ali, from Moonlight, to the best supporting actor trophy for Lion, about a young man who goes searching for the Indian family from which he was separated as a child.

The London-born Patel expressed shock at being a winner at a ceremony he used to watch on TV with his family.

He said Lion, which co-stars Nicole Kidman is “a film, about family, about a love that transcends borders, race, coloir, anything.”

Kate Middleton steals the show on Baftas red carpet

The Slumdog Millionaire star thanked his “amazing team, who had the insane task of trying to get this Indian dude, this noodle with wonky teeth and a lazy eye and floppy hair, work in this industry.”

Lion also took the BAFTA for best adapted screenplay.

Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake was named best British film. The 80-year-old director used his acceptance speech to lambast the country’s Conservative government.

Loach said his docudrama about a carpenter trying to get welfare after a heart attack shows that “the most vulnerable and the poorest people are treated by this government with a callous brutality that is disgraceful.”

Loach apologised for making a political speech, but told reporters backstage that “you can’t do a film like this and then talk showbiz.”

Loach was cheered by an audience at London’s Royal Albert Hall that included Prince William, his wife, Kate, and nominees including Meryl Streep, Affleck, Stone and Kidman.

Many said they were unsurprised politics made a guest appearance at the ceremony, as it has so often this awards season. Streep is among the stars who have used the awards stage to criticise US President Donald Trump.

Master of ceremonies Stephen Fry joked about Trump’s dismissal of Streep as overrated, declaring from the stage: “I look down on row after row of the most overrated people on the planet.”

Prince William, who serves as president of Britain’s film academy, presented the academy’s lifetime-achievement honour to veteran comedian Mel Brooks at the end of Sunday’s ceremony.

The 90-year-old entertainer said he would treasure the trophy.

“This is one of the awards you will not see on eBay,” he said.