BAFTA LA’s Britannia Awards at the Beverly Hilton were a bloody good time Wednesday night. The Brit Academy handed out pre-announced achievement awards (read: shorter show, no disappointment hanging in the air) to Warren Beatty, Helena Bonham Carter, John Lasseter, Ben Stiller and David Yates. Actor Alan Cumming (“The Good Wife”), despite his charming Scottish brogue, made for a wan host compared to such feisty presenters as Helen Mirren, Robin Williams and Robert Downey Jr..
Helen and Helena: Badass Squared
It doesn’t get much more badass than Dame Mirren and Bonham Carter onstage together, complimenting one another on their mutual “don’t-give-a-fuckdom.” Mirren presented her “Where Angels Fear to Tread” co-star with the award for British Artist of the Year. Bonham Carter was rocking her signature burlesque-Goth look with “bird’s nest hair” (Mirren’s words!), and credited her father’s motto to her drive and success as an actress: “KBO – which means ‘Keep Buggering On.'” In Bonham Carter’s witty, rambling acceptance speech, she’s “lucky to still be employed,” she said, “particularly at an age when they kind of put you out to pasture,” and, gesturing to a table in the audience: “I do want to carry on acting. So, um, I am available and my manager’s there at the table.”
John Lasseter gets his Broccoli served to him by Robin Williams
Disney/Pixar chief Lasseter received the newly re-named Albert R. Broccoli Award for Worldwide Contribution to Filmed Entertainment, presented by an appreciatively received Robin Williams. Williams opted for notes on paper over the teleprompter, and said, “I am here tonight for John Lasseter, a man I know from Napa. [John,] tonight you get a Broccoli. If you were Japanese you’d be declared a national treasure. If you could invent a way to animate George Lucas, you would win a Nobel Prize.” He then presented Lasseter’s clip reel, calling it “Pixar’s pixilated progeny,” and mentioned: “The one thing that all these films have in common: I’m not in them. But they also have something else in common: heart.”
The Oscar Agenda
It was abundantly clear that BAFTA LA doesn’t want franchise finale “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” to slip through the cracks in this season of awards ramp-up. Just drive around Los Angeles, where ubiquitous “Deathly Hallows Part 2” billboards boom the word “CONSIDER…” Along with “Harry Potter” star Britannia recipient Bonham Carter, director David Yates received the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Excellence in Directing, presented to him by actor Jason Isaacs (hardly recognizable as Lucius Malfoy with short brown hair) and “Harry Potter” franchise producer David Heyman. Additionally, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were on the big screen giving their taped congrats to Yates.
The folks at Paramount Vantage made sure than non-presenter Felicity Jones (“Like Crazy”) was floating around the pre-show red carpet and reception, neo-Audrey Hepburn elegant in a floor-length black dress, doing lots of glad-handing (including hugs for Mirren and husband Taylor Hackford), especially after Jones’ Breakthrough Actor win for her performance in “Like Crazy” at the Gotham Awards on Tuesday.
Ben Stiller Killed It
The hands-down funniest part of the night was Ben Stiller’s acceptance speech for the Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy, presented to him by a stuffed giraffe-carrying Robert Downey Jr.: “This is humiliating to present this award, when by any measure I should be receiving it. I played Charlie Chaplin, and pretty damn well, I might add. Ben Stiller can kiss my ass.” To this, Stiller retorted, “I often wonder how my career would have changed if I hadn’t turned ‘Chaplin’ down.” Of the actual Charlie Chaplin, Stiller praised the silent comedian-director’s accomplishments “despite that fact that he was mute,” and of the Chaplin Britannia award: “I’ve been gunning for the Chappy for a long time.”
To wife Christine Taylor who was sitting in the audience, Stiller let her thank him: “Christine, you’ve been married to a comedian for 12 years, and all I can say is: you’re welcome.” Of meeting David Yates, Stiller said, “My kids were so excited when I told them I was going to meet the director of ‘Sex Traffic.'”
The slowest slogs of the night were Oliver Platt and Barry Levinson’s intros to Warren Beatty. Back-to-back 10-minute anecdotes about phone conversations with Beatty do not scintillating awards show material make. Luckily Beatty himself livened up the proceedings as he accepted his Stanley Kubrick Award for Excellence in Film. Addressing his Britannia co-recipients, he said: “I don’t think you know, Ben, that I spent some time with Charlie Chaplin, and I could tell you a story about Charlie and me and Gloria Swanson which would pin your ears back…. Don’t worry, Helena, I won’t tell the story about you and me and your mother.”
Both sister Shirley MacLaine and wife Annette Bening were in the audience. A clip reel highlighted Beatty’s career accomplishments, including plentyfrom the movies he had much control over–“Bugsy,” “Reds,” and “Bonnie and Clyde”–but hardly anything from his career-best performance in Robert Altman’s “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.”