It wasn’t without controversy – #baftasowhite has been trending for a while now, after all – but the 73rd EE British Academy Film Awards had its fair share of memorable moments. World War One movie 1917 took home a whopping seven awards, while For Sama both made history and made the Arab world proud. But what else occurred as the best of British filmmaking and slivers of Hollywood gathered at Royal Albert Hall in London? Below are all the BAFTAs moments worth knowing.
Taking over as host from Absolutely Fabulous actress Joanna Lumley – who hosted in 2018 and 2019 – was Graham Norton, who poked fun at everything from the sustainable dress code to white privilege, even making a rather tame joke about Joker. See his opening speech in its entirety, below.
The star quotient of the ceremony was taken up a couple of notches as Prince William – who has been President of BAFTA since 2010 – was joined by Kate Middleton. Not only does this mark their fourth attendance in a row at the awards ceremony, but they were also spotted with their sense of humor intact when Graham Norton took a jab at William.
Rebel with a Cause
Officially the scene-stealer of the evening was comedian Rebel Wilson, who couldn’t help but go there – and by there, we mean roasting the royal family, roasting the lack of diversity at the BAFTAs, and roasting just how big of a box office flop her film Cats was. But that’s not all. Male directors and the coronavirus also weren’t spared. Do yourself a favor and watch her speech circa now.
Oh Happy Day
Fans of the Bridget Jones trilogy were delighted by the best reunion of the awards season: Hugh Grant turning into Daniel Cleaver as he presented the award for Best Film, turning his attention to his former co-star Renée Zellweger with the words: “First of all, well done, Jones. That was a very, very, silly little dress I thought.”
His Words, Not Mine
Leave it to Brad Pitt to have another laugh at his own expense – through his single status, of course – despite not even being at the ceremony. He won Best Supporting Actor, but it was his co-star Margot Robbie who accepted the award on his behalf. The comedic speech was good-natured for the most part, minus that zinger aimed at Meghan Markle towards the very end – and one very important reaction was caught on film.
Winning the coveted Leading Actor award for his role in Joker, Joaquin Phoenix was in no mood for jokes. He got honest about the “systemic racism” in Hollywood, admitting that he is part of the problem.
“I have not done everything in my power to ensure that the sets I’ve worked on are inclusive, but I think that it’s more than just having sets that are multicultural. We have to really do the hard work to truly understand systemic racism. I think it is the obligation of the people that have created and perpetuate and benefit from a system of oppression to be the ones that dismantle it – so that’s on us,” he said. Prince William has since vowed to conduct a thorough review of the voting process.
Good Over Evil
Meanwhile, the award for the most poignant speech goes to Waad al-Kateab, who won for her heartbreaking documentary For Sama, which incidentally made headlines worldwide for becoming the most-nominated documentary in BAFTA history. Not only did she accept her award alongside her four-year-old daughter Sama (for whom the film was made), but she also made an impassioned speech that had audiences and viewers alike in tears. She dedicated her award to the heroes of Syria and drew attention to the 3.5 million people who are still under attack.
Another tearjerker came courtesy of Michael Ward, who won EE Rising Star after rising to fame for his roles in Blue Story and Top Boy – and made audiences worldwide well up with his moving speech. With a shaky voice, he thanked God and paid tribute to his late father, urging viewers to seek every opportunity that comes their way. Ward’s mother, meanwhile, alternated between clapping fervently and crying happy tears.