Heather Graham arriving for the European premiere of The Hangover III at the Empire Leicester Square, London
Bafta awards 2011: the real winners and losers
The King's Speech is a very good film. We're all agreed on that. But there was something so stiflingly predictable about its BAFTA board-sweeping: seven statues including Best Film, Outstanding British Film and Leading Actor. Most of this year's film awards have dutifully fallen into line to bow at its majesty and BAFTA was no exception. You wonder whether some voters simply buckled to the inevitable.
Of course, it would be a bad show if British awards failed to back their best Oscar bet. But with its history of supporting homegrown talent, it seems a shame that other fantastic UK films were all but snubbed as a result. Mike Leigh's Another Year is arguably as good as The King's Speech (less royalty, more boozing) and Lesley Manville's hilarious and poignant turn was far more memorable than Helena's. Clio Barnard's docu-drama The Arbor was astonishing and oh yes, there was Made In Dagenham, as the camera reminded us every time it swept past Miranda Richardson's stony face.
Bafta awards 2011: Who won what?
The only other safe bets were in categories The King's Speech wasn't up for - a fact pointed out by host Jonathan Ross. No surprises regarding Toy Story 3 for Animated Film or Aaron Sorkin's Adapted Screenplay win for the razor-sharp The Social Network. Basically, if you're ever a writer in Sorkin's category, you can just forget it.
So inevitable was The King's Speech triumph that many other nominees simply didn't bother to turn up. David Fincher's bluff was called when he actually won Best Director over TKS's Tom Hooper - oops. No sign of Christian Bale, whose Supporting turn in The Fighter may yet give BAFTA-winner Geoffrey Rush a run for his money in the Oscars. Meantime True Grit teen Hailee Steinfeld looked like she wished she'd stayed at home when Natalie Portman bagged the Leading Actress award.
Natalie had the best excuse for not turning up: she's pregnant and unable to fly. Shame rival Annette Bening didn't get a chance to show off that frock on stage - our guess is it was a very close call between her and the equally deserving Natalie. Meanwhile Tom Hardy failed to show his pretty face for his Rising Star award: too busy being an established star, perhaps.
No doubt wary of repeating past mistakes, the usually amusing Jonathan Ross played it as safe as he could, his most controversial line being a gag about Ken Loach and Mike Leigh living in a council flat (did you see Leigh's face?He LOVED it). Ross's biggest risk was his facial hair - a definite fail that prompted a flurry of pirate/musketeer-related tweets.
As ever, BAFTA assembled a glittering array of stars to present the awards, only to force them to read a bland autocue speech in a robotic fashion (although Jessica Alba seemed to think she was reading an erotic novel. Badly.)
Hurrah, then, for the autocue mishap that woke everyone up. The irony of Rosamund Pike and Dominic Cooper fluffing their Original Screenplay intro was initially lost amid the sense that this might be a deliberate joke. It wasn't. Still, props to Ros for actually trying: Dominic won't win any fans for leaving her out to dry like a selfish schoolkid. Meanwhile Gerard Butler not only showed the Americans what he really speaks like but managed to inject mild humour, for which we were pathetically grateful. Strange that the worst actors are sometimes the best at this bit.
Best speeches Helena Bonham-Carter's lengthy ramble seemed a bit rubbish until later in the ceremony, when it emerged as one of the evening's highlights. At least she had a bit of spark. Still, co-star Firth was elegant as always while The King's Speech scribe David Seidler and Fellowship recipient Christopher Lee were both reassuringly heartfelt, with 88-year-old Lee bringing added suspense to the table (can he still talk? Will he keel over?). General rule: the older the actor, the better the speech. We look forward to Firth's Fellowship acceptance in 2049.
Bafta awards 2011: Who won what?