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Aussies Cate Blanchett, Catherine Martin win big at BAFTAs

Culture

Australian actress Cate Blanchett has won best actress at the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs), with Austin Butler named best actor for his starring role in the Queensland-made blockbuster Elvis.

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Anti-war German drama All Quiet on the Western Front won seven prizes, including best picture.

Irish tragicomedy The Banshees of Inisherin took four trophies, including best British film.

Baz Luhrmann’s flamboyant musical biopic Elvis also won four on Sunday night in London, including best costume design for the director’s partner Catherine Martin and casting and hair and makeup trophies.

Butler was named best actor for his work on Elvis while the best actress prize went to Blanchett for orchestral drama Tár.

All Quiet filmmaker Edward Berger was named best director.

A visceral depiction of life and death in the World War I trenches, German-language anti-war drama All Quiet on the Western Front had led the pack with 14 nominations.

It received a handful of early awards for best-adapted screenplay, cinematography, sound, score and a film not in English, cementing its favourite status when filmmaker Edward Berger was named best director.

Irish tragicomedy The Banshees of Inisherin and madcap metaverse romp Everything Everywhere All at Once received 10 nominations each, including best picture.

Banshees won the separate award for best British film.

“Best what award?” joked writer-director Martin McDonagh of the film, shot in Ireland with a largely Irish cast and crew.

It has British funding, and McDonagh was born in Britain to Irish parents.

“Banshees” also won for McDonagh’s original screenplay, and awards for Kerry Condon as best supporting actress and Barry Keoghan for best supporting actor.

Actor Richard E. Grant hosted the ceremony, walking onstage in a luxurious white cape after a jokey introductory film that saw him taking advice from Steve Martin and pulling up to the concert hall in the Batmobile.

Joking about the infamous altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock at last year’s Oscars, Grant said: “Nobody on my watch gets slapped tonight. Except on the back.”

West Side Story star Ariana DeBose opened the show by performing Sisters are Doin’ it for Themselves, with an added rap shoutout to some of the nominated women, including Cate Blanchett, Viola Davis and Michelle Yeoh.

Guests and presenters walking the red carpet on the south bank of the River Thames included Colin Farrell, Ana de Armas, Eddie Redmayne, Brian Cox, Florence Pugh, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Cynthia Erivo, Julianne Moore and Lily James.

Many wore blue ribbons in support of refugees and displaced people.

Heir to the throne Prince William, who is president of Britain’s film and television academy, was in the audience alongside his wife Kate, Princess of Wales.

Helen Mirren paid tribute to William’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, who died in September.

Mirren, who portrayed the late monarch on screen in The Queen and onstage in The Audience, called Elizabeth “the nation’s leading lady”.

The prizes – officially the EE BAFTA Film Awards – are Britain’s equivalent of Hollywood’s Academy Awards and will be watched closely for hints of who could win at the Oscars on March 12.

All Quiet, Banshees and Everything Everywhere are all best-picture contenders at the Oscars, where Everything Everywhere has a leading 11 nominations.

Britain’s film academy introduced changes to increase the awards’ diversity in 2020, when no women were nominated as best director for the seventh year running and all 20 nominees in the lead and supporting performer categories were white.

This year there were 11 female directors up for awards across all categories, including documentary and animated films.

But just one of the main best-director nominees was female: Gina Prince-Bythewood for The Woman King.

Leading actress contenders were Yeoh; Blanchett for Tár: Viola Davis for The Woman King; Danielle Deadwyler for Till; Ana de Armas for Blonde and Emma Thompson for Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.

Blanchett said it had been “an extraordinary year for female performers”.

“To be counted among them is really special,” she said.

The best-actor category pitted Farrell against Austin Butler for Elvis; Brendan Fraser for The Whale; Daryl McCormack for Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, Paul Mescal for Aftersun and Bill Nighy for Living.

-AP

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