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Photograph: Guy Levy/BAFTA

Baftas 2020: 9 things we learned

By Time Out Film

On a night that went largely as expected, the Baftas still managed to throw up one or two nice surprises. Beyond the expected triumph of Sam Mendes’s homegrown war epic ‘1917’, there was recognition for adopted London Micheal Ward, a shot across the bows from Joaquin Phoenix and another Brad Pitt masterclass in self-deprecation (this time delivered long distance). 

1. ‘1917’ cleans up (again)
As expected, Sam Mendes’s Great War kinda-one-shot movie ‘1917’ was the big winner of the night, with Best Film, Outstanding British Film, Best Director, Cinematography, Production Design, Best Sound and Special Visual Effects all banked. If there’d been an award for Best Exploding Stuff, it would have won that too. Seemingly, the only thing standing between it and a Best Picture win at next weekend’s Oscars is a mishap involving a German biplane.

2. The Baftas are still #sowhite
Some white male actors find it hard to face up to their own privilege. Not so Joaquin Phoenix, who came out swinging with a Best Actor acceptance speech excoriating Bafta and the film industry in general for shutting out actors of colour. The response on Twitter was overwhelmingly positive.

Photograph: Nick Wall

3. Micheal Ward is top boy
Drake’s favourite Hackney-set TV (okay, Netflix) drama, ‘Top Boy’ has built up a few admirers down the years. That fanbase was out in force to help Micheal Ward win the Rising Star award, piping Awkwafina, Kaitlyn Dever, Kelvin Harrison Jr and Jack Lowden to the only Bafta voted for by the public. He was nominated for his charismatic turn in Rapman’s hit London drama ‘Blue Story’ but make no mistake, this gong was a few years in the making. 

4. Brad Pitt writes top gags 
Best Supporting Actor winner Brad Pitt may have skipped the ceremony citing a ‘family obligation’, but his stand-in Margot Robbie soaked up the laughs as she read out a prepared speech in which Brad celebrated his and Britain’s ‘newly single status’. Neither for too long, hopefully…

5. Hugh Grant is impossibly lovely
Joaquin Phoenix’s barnstorming speech may have snagged the headlines, but the most heartwarming moment of the ceremony came when Hugh Grant took to the stage to present an award just after his former ‘Bridget Jones’ co-star Renee Zellweger had won the Best Actress prize. With a twinkle in his eye and a callback to the beloved movie he said: ‘Well done, Jones.’

‘For Sama’
Photograph: Abd Alkader Habak

6. Sama is going to need a bigger mantlepiece
The little film with a heavyweight’s punch, ‘For Sama’ was named after co-director Waad Al-Kateab’s daughter. Everyone knows Sama’s name now, with the Aleppo-set doc winning just about every award going since it premiered at South by Southwest last March. Its defiant vision of life in a city under siege saw it add a Bafta to Al-Kateab and co-director Edward Watts’s collection. The Best Documentary Oscar will surely follow.

7. Scarlett Johansson can’t catch a break
Two fine American actresses – Scarlett Johansson and Margot Robbie – were each nominated for two awards last night, and between them scored precisely zilch. Ah well, they’ll just have to console themselves with being fabulously famous and wealthy…

Photograph: Guy Levy/BAFTA

8. The Graham Norton show fell flat
Effortlessly witty and at ease with A-listers on his Friday night chat show, Graham Norton found the Bafta audience a tougher crowd. No shame in that, everyone does (see Joanna Lumley’s train-crash intro last year), but Norton does this stuff so well on a weekly basis so the hopes were high. His opening monologue met with stonier faces than a stand-up gig on Easter Island.

9. Bafta took the ‘Bait’
Perhaps the most pleasing award given out last night went to first-time writer-director Mark Jenkin for his ultra-low-budget DIY drama ‘Bait’, about class tensions in a Cornish fishing village. We can’t wait for his next project, Cornwall-set horror film ‘Enys Men’.

Check out the full list of Bafta winners here.

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