The trick with these awards
shows is to pick well in advance among the likely awards contenders and get them to show up–and their studios to buy tables–during the height of the awards campaign season.
Inevitably with the long lead time some misjudgments occur. The night’s biggest star, accepting the Kubrick excellence award, was Robert Downey, Jr., whose “The Judge” did not sail with critics. Gaining better reviews was Robert Duvall, who attended the fete and was duly congratulated by Downey during his meandering awards speech. “Sometimes I can’t get enough of myself,” said Downey. Indeed.
These shows allow for other contenders to get some valuable red carpet and charm time in the spotlight–hence the presence of “The Theory of Everything” stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as presenters, and attendees from such contenders as “The Imitation Game” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”
“Good evening, I’m Renee Zellweger,” started off host Rob Brydon (“The Trip to Italy”), who continued: “My next movie is also about middle-aged men getting fat: Expendables 4.” And, “I’m delighted that we are still the United Kingdom.”
The presenters at the BAFTAs are often even better than the award speeches. Jamie Foxx did a great Downey imitation, warmly praising his performance in blackface in “Tropic Thunder,” as did that film’s director Ben Stiller in the video clip. “He walks the line between drama and comedy,” said his Sherlock sparring partner Jude Law in the video. “We all root for you,” said Foxx.
“Comedy is many things, but on one thing we can all agree: It’s not as good as drama,” said an hilarious Armando Ianucci (HBO’s “Veep”), presenting to an equally hysterical Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, accepting the Charlie Chaplin Comedy award with a brilliant Brit accent.
“I hate Mike Leigh. Every time I make a movie, he makes a REALLY depressing movie and wins all the awards,” said presenter Jim Sheridan. “His movies are like an x-ray, that’s reality.” Writer-director Leigh, who has Sony Pictures Classics’ “Mr. Turner” in the Oscar race, thanked all the people making it possible to do his “eccentric” movies as he accepted the John Schlesinger director award. His “Mr. Turner” star Timothy Spall has made seven Leigh films in 33 years, he admitted in the video clip.
Britannia award for worldwide entertainment presenter Dustin Hoffman inspired host Rob Brydon’s best imitation of the night. In her acceptance speech, Dame Judi Dench reminded that she has a Harvey Weinstein tattoo on her bum. She’s made many films, she reminded, after a film producer early on in her career told her she never would. The room gave her a standing ovation.
Marvel, which usually does not push for Oscars, was a nonetheless a big presence at the Britannia Awards with two awards going to Iron Man Downey and Mark the Hulk Ruffalo. Ruffalo took the humanitarian award and duly promoted his water charity. Josh Gad killed his intro, and “Begin Again” costar Hailee Steinfeld was more sincere: “I know that I am forever a better actress and person for having worked with him.” Ruffalo is an actor who is beloved. In a year following his Emmy-worthy performance in “The Normal Heart” as well as “Begin Again,” a “Foxcatcher” Supporting Actor Oscar nomination could happen.
“I mean business,” said UN good will ambassador and “Noah” star Emma Watson, accepting her Artist of the Year award.
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