The silent movie The Artist triumphed at the BAFTAs on Sunday, winning seven awards including best picture. Meryl Streep was also victorious at the awards, which are Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars.
The Artist, a black-and-white movie that has wowed global audiences since its Cannes debut in May, was named best film, with its star Jean Dujardin named leading actor. Its filmmaker, Michel Hazanavicius, won prizes for directing and his original screenplay.
Dujardin was excited to win a prize in the homeland of acting giant Sir Laurence Olivier, William Webb Ellis, the inventor of rugby, “and Benny Hill,” a comedian popular in the 1970s for his sketches, including some silent ones, although now considered rather sexist.
Hazanavicius thanked presenter Brad Pitt for pronouncing his name so well and academy voters for recognizing that his silent film even had a screenplay.
“So many people thought there was no script because there was no dialogue,” he said.
In another homage to the early days of cinema, Martin Scorsese’s Parisian fantasy Hugo won BAFTAs for sound and production design.
The movie adaptation of British home grown talent John le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy started the ceremony with 11 nominations compared to 12 for The Artist, but won just two prizes, for British film and for adapted screenplay.
Writer Peter Straughan dedicated the screenplay award to his wife and co-writer Bridget O’Connor, who died of cancer before the film was completed.
“She wrote all the good bits and I made the coffee,” Straughan said. “So, Bridget – I love you, I miss you. This is for you.”
As predicted, Meryl Streep was named best actress for her depiction of Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister, in The Iron Lady. The film also won a well-deserved prize for hair and makeup.
The BAFTAs are considered a strong indicator of likely success at Hollywood’s Academy Awards, to be held on February 26. So things are looking good for The Artist, which has already won three Golden Globes, and has 10 Oscar nominations.
Here is the full list of BAFTA Awards 2012 winners:
Best Film: The Artist
Outstanding British Film: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer: Tyrannosaur – Paddy Considine (director), Diarmid Scrimshaw (producer)
Foreign language film: The Skin I Live In
Director: The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius
Leading actor: Jean Dujardin – The Artist
Leading actress: Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady
Supporting actor: Christopher Plummer – Beginners
Supporting actress: Octavia Spencer – The Help
Animated film: Rango
Original Screenplay: The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius
Adapted screenplay: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan
Original music: The Artist
Cinematography: The Artist
Production design: Hugo
Costume design: The Artist
Make-up and hair: The Iron Lady
Special visual effects: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Short animation: A Morning Stroll
Short film: Pitch Black Heist
The Orange Wednesdays Rising Star Award (previously announced, and voted by the public): Adam Deacon
Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema: John Hurt
Bafta Fellowship: Martin Scorsese