In Contention


‘Slumdog’ takes 7 BAFTAs as Rourke, Winslet triumph

Posted by Guy Lodge · 2:18 pm · February 8th, 2009

For an awards body renowned for its frequently contrarian bent, the most surprising thing about this year’s BAFTA awards was, well, just how unsurprising they were.

As the evening unfolded, not a single result emerged that could be classified as a major upset, even if the winners (“Man on Wire” helmer James Marsh in particular) occasionally looked more astonished than anyone else. Yours truly got 16 out of 21 predictions correct (a personal BAFTA record, I think) and even then, most of those errors came from trying to second-guess their usually far less predictable tech categories, and slightly underestimating the across-the-board love for “Slumdog Millionaire.”

For love it they did, awarding it 7 trophies in the biggest BAFTA sweep since “Schindler’s List” matched that tally fifteen years ago. There really is very little to say about the “Slumdog” phenomenon at this stage, other than to admire the grace, modesty and genuinely endearing excitement that Danny Boyle, et al, still manage to convey at these ceremonies, all the while concealing the fact that they can no longer be surprised when their names are called.

The other major story of the ceremony, however, was Mickey Rourke, whose outrageous but nonetheless slyly self-deprecating speech was the evening’s clear highlight. (His hilarious shout-out to his agent for “telling me who to fuck” is surely a soundbite for the ages.) I think it was clear to anyone in the UK that Rourke would win this – “The Wrestler” appears to be attaining cult status here, while the buzz around “Milk” has been eerily quiet – but it does nevertheless prove that he’s still very much in the Oscar race. Taking his wonderful performance aside for a moment, Rourke has now twice proved that he makes for great TV – and assuming they can handle some salty language, his knockout speech tonight may well win over some undecided AMPAS voters.

(More thoughts, and a full list of winners, after the cut.)

Beyond that, there was very little to upset the status quo. Kate Winslet solidified her position as frontrunner in the Best Actress race, while Heath Ledger remains unbeatable. Penelope Cruz won, as expected, but given that she didn’t have Viola Davis (or, indeed, Kate Winslet) to contend with this time, there’s still life in that race yet.

Some may be surprised that “Milk” lost its bid for Original Screenplay here after winning the WGA yesterday, but as I’ve said before, the film hasn’t really caught on with the British, while “In Bruges” is just the kind of homegrown (and deserving) critics’ pet that BAFTA often favours. In fact, the most interesting result of the night for me was the Foreign Film win for “I’ve Loved You So Long,” not just because it’s an overdue accolade for one of 2008’s few true masterworks, but because it’s the first indication we’ve had that not everyone thinks “Waltz With Bashir” is all but entitled to this award. However, given that Philippe Claudel’s film isn’t a factor in the Oscar race, it’s difficult to determine what, if anything, this result means.

Overall, BAFTA acquitted themselves well tonight, maintaining their new-found status as relevant Oscar bellwethers while still showing the occasional streak of British individualism. (The less said, however, about the laughable Orange Rising Star Award, the better – though with some knowledge of the British voting public’s parochial inclinations, Noel Clarke’s win was easily seen coming.)

The only area in which they truly embarrassed themselves was, as always, the ceremony itself. While not as shambolic as last year’s technical glitch-plagued effort, the Brits still proved themselves incapable of putting together a smoothly entertaining show. A muted Jonathan Ross (clearly on a leash following his recent suspension, though perhaps that was a mercy) lurched from one thuddingly received quip to the other, when he wasn’t reading presenter intros that seemed to have been pilfered from Wikipedia entries. He remains an awkwardly TV-sized host for a ceremony celebrating the larger-screened medium.

Meanwhile, while the lack of commercial breaks is welcome, the efficient parade of awards proved alarmingly monotonous with so little alternative content to mix things up –- and their failure to televise the Animated Feature, Editing or Short Film awards was inexcusable.

Finally, BAFTA has to take a leaf from the Oscars and simply deliver an untinkered live telecast from start to finish. This year’s system of broadcasting an apparently tape-delayed ceremony, necessitating a channel change halfway through while news of early awards leaked before reaching our screens, was needlessly fussy and buzz-killing. Is it really necessary to send out a press release revealing all the winners before the ceremony even begins? Where’s the suspense – nay, the romance even – in that?

The good news is that, in Covent Garden’s exquisite Royal Opera House, BAFTA has found a suitably imposing home for their annual awards. The next step is to figure out a way to live up to its grandeur.

Best Film: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best British Film: “Man on Wire”
Best Director:
Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Actor:
Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”
Best Actress:
Kate Winslet, “The Reader”
Best Supporting Actor:
Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Best Supporting Actress:
Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Best Original Screenplay:
Martin McDonagh, “In Bruges”
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Simon Beaufoy, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Foreign Language Film:
“I’ve Loved You So Long”
Best Animated Film:
“WALL-E”
Best Cinematography:
Anthony Dod Mantle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Art Direction:
Donald Graham Burt and Victor Zolfo, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Best Costume Design:
Michael O’Connor, “The Duchess”
Best Makeup & Hair:
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Best Film Editing:
Chris Dickens, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Music:
A.R. Rahman, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Sound:
“Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Visual Effects:
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Carl Foreman Award: Steve McQueen, “Hunger”
Orange Rising Star Award:
Noel Clarke
Best Short Film: “September”
Best Animated Short: “Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death”




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→ 31 Comments Tags: , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

31 responses so far

  • 1 2-08-2009 at 2:21 pm

    j said...

    Re: Slumdog dominance – since the 80′s, Schindler’s List got seven and Killing Fields got 8.

  • 2 2-08-2009 at 2:40 pm

    j said...

    Also, Cabaret got 7 and Butch Cassidy got 9.

  • 3 2-08-2009 at 2:44 pm

    Fei said...

    The Oscars are going to look almost exactly like this… just you watch.

  • 4 2-08-2009 at 2:49 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Fei: Agreed.

  • 5 2-08-2009 at 2:58 pm

    Ryan said...

    @Fei: One can only hope.

  • 6 2-08-2009 at 3:50 pm

    Pauley said...

    I personally prefer the layout of the Baftas. The
    English are known for their subtlety and this shines through on the Baftas. an hour forty five is about how long all award shows should go on.

  • 7 2-08-2009 at 3:52 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Yep, is it too rash to say Rourke has edged ahead in this race? I know Penn’s film is more popular with AMPAS than it was with BAFTA, but I can’t help feeling a kind of aura around Rourke lately.

    He’s played the publicity game SO much better than Penn, for starters.

  • 8 2-08-2009 at 4:36 pm

    carly said...

    schindlers list deserved 7 wins but for slumdog? maybe 4 will do no matter how you love this film.

  • 9 2-08-2009 at 4:45 pm

    Bryan C. said...

    Nope, I’m still going for Penn. Besides having won the most critics awards (among them the LAFCA and the NYFCC awards), the BFCA and the SAG award, this is the best performance he’s ever given and they can’t let that go unnoticed. Also, there doesn’t seem to be too much love for “The Wrestler” within the Academy (no Best Song and Best screenplay noms), whereas “Milk” is up for all the top awards.
    And while I don’t want to deny the impact that speeches might have, I seriously doubt they’re gonna sway voters (and BTW, Sean Penn’s SAG acceptance speech was great, too). Another thing he’s got going for him, is that MILK is of course linked to the gay rights movement which suffered a severe blow through Prop 8 and this might get Penn some sypathy votes.

    I rest my case!

  • 10 2-08-2009 at 4:46 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Carly: Maybe break it down and look at the individual categories, rather than focusing on the numbers. “Slumdog” is a pretty spectacular technical achievement. It’s a justified haul, I think.

  • 11 2-08-2009 at 4:59 pm

    Andrew said...

    Slumdog is the only film EVER to win Golden Globe BP, BAFTA BP, BFCA, SAG ensemble, PGA, WGA and Scripter

    WOW! Go Dog!!!

  • 12 2-08-2009 at 5:24 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    It’s an impressive haul for sure, Andrew. (Don’t forget the DGA.) But I wouldn’t count the Scripter (since only literary adaptations are eligible for that award) — in which case “American Beauty” enjoyed a similar sweep back in 1999.

  • 13 2-08-2009 at 7:40 pm

    gondas said...

    I was wondering about this. I do not know what were the criteria for Oscar to be the International Film Award? Why Asians, Africans and the whole of ‘Third World’ countries have to seek approval of Europeans and Americans even in Art? Why can’t Asia and Africa come together to form a kind of Highest Award For Films and Fine Arts as they need to come together to institute a common currency. especially for the them?
    If I wonder if the director was Indian whether the Slumdog Millionaire at BAFTA would have received them as many as they have given it. I wonder whether we still consider (somewhere lurking at the back of our minds) white skin as superior to any other in the world.
    A lot of points to wonder.

  • 14 2-08-2009 at 8:15 pm

    gondas said...

    I was wondering about this. I do not know what were the criteria for Oscar to be the International Film Award?
    Why Asians, Africans and the whole of ‘Third World’ countries have to seek approval of Europeans and Americans even in Art?
    Why can’t Asia and Africa come together to form a kind of Highest Award For Films and Fine Arts as they need to come together to institute a common currency. especially for the them?
    I wonder if the director was Indian, the Slumdog Millionaire would have received 7 awards from BAFTA.
    I wonder whether we still consider (somewhere lurking at the back of our minds) white skin as superior to any other in the world. And hence, whatever comes by way of givt or award is considered greater and better.

    Of course, Indians too arefunny/phonie. They make bones out of any thing. They made a lot of hue and cry over filming of City of Joy ( because they did not want to expose their poverty though they would not like to preerve it by all means.).

    We Indians raised hornet’s nest when film like ‘WATER’ (on the Hindu widows and their plight caused by the caste system and religious sanctions was being exposed though they did not and do not till today want to change it by all means) was being filmed here.

    Tomorrow if any Indian Film Maker produces a film on Manu and His Discriminating Laws against women and shudras of all hues, the effects of his Laws on them till today being experienced ( Mangalore attack on women, Dalits being killed in the country, they not allowed to inter-caste marry-especially in the North India, in schools, colleges and in governement offices people are still being asked to produce caste certificates if they want any facility or concession from the goverment, schools or colleges)
    I am sure there will be riots and rampage, threats to the Producer, director, actors et al.

    We need also to get away from insipid, worn-out and churned-out-over-and-over-again Love Stories in order to be recognised Internatioanlly. We need to venture out in the uncharted areas of issues which are shoved under the carpet over the centuries, make films out of them, experience the catharsis from all that has been suppressed and free our culture of so many ills.

    Then we may not need to go out to proclaim and hype up the goodness of our films. The world from out will starts its exodus to India.

    A lot of points to wonder.

  • 15 2-08-2009 at 8:17 pm

    gondas said...

    I was wondering about this. I do not know what were the criteria for Oscar to be the International Film Award?
    Why Asians, Africans and the whole of ‘Third World’ countries have to seek approval of Europeans and Americans even in Art?
    Why can’t Asia and Africa come together to form a kind of Highest Award For Films and Fine Arts as they need to come together to institute a common currency. especially for the them?
    I wonder if the director was Indian ( with due respect o Danny Boyle and his extrordinary skill as a good director), the Slumdog Millionaire would have received 7 awards from BAFTA.
    I wonder whether we still consider (somewhere lurking at the back of our minds) white skin as superior to any other in the world. And hence, whatever comes by way of givt or award is considered greater and better.

    Of course, Indians too are funny/phonie. They make bones out of any thing. They made a lot of hue and cry over filming of City of Joy ( because they did not want to expose their poverty though they would not like to preerve it by all means.).

    We Indians raised hornet’s nest when film like ‘WATER’ (on the Hindu widows and their plight caused by the caste system and religious sanctions was being exposed though they did not and do not till today want to change it by all means) was being filmed here.

    Tomorrow if any Indian Film Maker produces a film on Manu and His Discriminating Laws against women and shudras of all hues, the effects of his Laws on them till today being experienced ( Mangalore attack on women, Dalits being killed in the country, they not allowed to inter-caste marry-especially in the North India, in schools, colleges and in governement offices people are still being asked to produce caste certificates if they want any facility or concession from the goverment, schools or colleges)
    I am sure there will be riots and rampage, threats to the Producer, director, actors et al.

    We need also to get away from insipid, worn-out and churned-out-over-and-over-again Love Stories in order to be recognised Internatioanlly. We need to venture out in the uncharted areas of issues which are shoved under the carpet over the centuries, make films out of them, experience the catharsis from all that has been suppressed and free our culture of so many ills.

    Then we may not need to go out to proclaim and hype up the goodness of our films. The world from out will starts its exodus to India.

    A lot of points to wonder.

  • 16 2-08-2009 at 8:24 pm

    Jake said...

    They showed a really good clip to showcase Ledger in The Dark Knight (as if nothing everything isn’t good). But the previous awards shows showed random snippets from different scenes. I think the one the BAFTAs showed, when Ledger terrorizes the fake Batman on video, was perfect.

  • 17 2-08-2009 at 8:24 pm

    Jake said...

    I should have proofread…taking out “nothing” from the first sentence. =)

  • 18 2-08-2009 at 9:05 pm

    David said...

    I think I may have been the only one turned off by Rourke’s speech while watching the BAFTAs. I’m glad Rourke can be himself at these things but I’d much rather hear Penn talk about Harvey Milk at the Oscars. I’m probably going to be disappointed.

  • 19 2-08-2009 at 9:06 pm

    David said...

    Slumdog didn’t need to win a sound award. I found that award fairly ridiculous.

  • 20 2-08-2009 at 10:33 pm

    jake said...

    I’m so happy that Kate Winslet won but so depressed that it wasn’t for Revolutionary Road — do voters really believe that she was better in the Reader? Anyway, that is a great thing to overcome, to actually beat yourself for another performance.

  • 21 2-08-2009 at 10:35 pm

    james said...

    I see nothing great about Mikey Rourke’s performance or Marisa Tomei’s performance in the Wrestler. Why was Leonardo Dicarprio not given any love for Revolutionary Road — any one of his scenes would have blown all of these nominees out of the water.

  • 22 2-09-2009 at 2:44 am

    Andrew said...

    Youre right Guy if you take out the Scriter, both American Beauty (who couldnt win it) and Lord of The Rings (who could but didnt) share Slumdog’s honours

  • 23 2-09-2009 at 2:45 am

    nixon said...

    Slumdog at the oscars

    1) Film
    2) Director
    3) Screenplay
    4) Score
    5) Song (Wall E is no match…who want to listen to boring stuff from peter again and again and again)
    6) Editing

    These are confirmed!!

  • 24 2-09-2009 at 3:35 am

    Mike V. said...

    Worst winner of the night: Penelope Cruz, Supporting Actress.

    This is a clear example that ANYONE, no matter if talented or not, can act and win awards. Her agent is obviously good. She isn’t. I think she’s the first actress to ever gain a Best Actress nomination at the Oscars for a performance where she didn’t even use her own voice for the singing parts [Volver].

  • 25 2-09-2009 at 3:45 am

    Eunice said...

    It’s Kate Winslet’s year. She’s a lock, just like Heath Ledger is. This is of course, assuming AMPAS wouldn’t ignore what’s been going on in front of their eyes and choose someone else. This sentiment of course, is also in relation to Slumdog Millionaire.

    So, having said that, I’m gonna go and focus on the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories. I still hope Viola Davis pulls it off come Oscar time and that Mickey Rourke wins.

  • 26 2-09-2009 at 5:48 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Mike V: What a trivial point to pick up on. Jamie Foxx won an Oscar despite lip-synching to Ray Charles’ songs for the vast majority of the film, and yet you’re bothered by Cruz miming in a single scene? (Let’s not get on to Marion Cotillard, then.)

    You know, a few years back, I used to find Cruz a worryingly blank screen presence too. But she’s clearly worked hard at her craft and has improved in leaps and bounds. If you can’t see how superb she was in “Volver,” I think you might be the only one.

    Andrew: “Return of the King” lost the WGA to “American Splendor.” (And rightly so.)

  • 27 2-09-2009 at 8:50 am

    Jake said...

    I agree that Cruz should not have won, it should have at least been Amy Adams since the great viola davis was not nominated and should win the oscar.
    But to say that Cruz is not a great actress is wrong, she deserved to win for Volver, but her role in barcelona is good but not great and woody allen even cut out her key scenes at the end and didn’t even put the camera on her when she was screaming.
    It’s gonna be the most predictable oscars with slumdog offering no chance for an upset. If they had moved the oscars back to march, maybe there would be.

  • 28 2-09-2009 at 10:27 am

    Mike said...

    Best Actor is going to be a nail biter…. it seems like its neck and neck between Rourke and Penn. Does anyone think one of them has the edge?

  • 29 9-07-2009 at 1:02 am

    Babuluk said...

    Замечательно, это забавное сообщение