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Mirren gets Bafta highest accolade Ejiofor, Blanchett named best actors

Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale and Tom Hanks, all nominated in the Best Actor category, were also in London for the event. Dressed in a navy blue gown with chiffon sleeves, Mirren brought the ceremony to a close when she accepted the award, telling guests including Pitt, Jolie, Hanks and DiCaprio of the influence of recently deceased teacher Alys Welding.

She said Welding “alone was the person who encouraged me to be an actor” before quoting from William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”. Mirren later said backstage that William had been “charming”. Previous recipients of the academy’s most prestigious award include “Goodfellas” director Martin Scorsese and British horror legend Christopher Lee. Bafta chairman John Willis called Mirren “one of the most outstanding actresses of her generation”. “Dame Helen’s incredibly succesful career is testament to the determination, dedication, and skill she brings to each of her roles,” he added. Mirren has won one Oscar, for her 2006 portrayal of Elizabeth II in The Queen, and has also won four Baftas, three Golden Globes and four Emmy Awards during a distinguished career spanning almost half a century.

The Queen recognised Mirren’s services to the performing arts when she awarded the actress a damehood at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 2003. Director McQueen said he was “so proud” to be nominated for awards in his home town, London. And he paid tribute to Pitt, a producer on “12 Years,” for helping to get the film’s uncompromising vision of slavery onscreen. “If you’re trying to make a movie like this, you need some heavy backers,” McQueen said. He said slavery “happened because of mental violence and physical violence. One has to be honest and truthful.”

Nominees Cooper, Damon, Blanchett, Dench and Sandra Bullock were among those attending Sunday’s black-tie ceremony. Pitt, whose partner Jolie accompanied him to the ceremony, dressed like him in a tuxedo, said he was proud of the film, based on the real story of Solomon Northup. The Hollywood power couple were among a list of stars who descended on London for the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs), which come two weeks before the Academy Awards and are widely seen as indicators of Oscar success. Britain’s Prince William arrived last, chatting to the crowd gathered outside the theatre on a cold, dry evening before heading inside to present an Academy Fellowship for outstanding contribution to film Mirren.

* Best film: “12 Years a Slave”
* Outstanding British film: “Gravity”
* Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”)
* Actress: Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”)
* Supporting actor: Barkhad Adbi (“Captain Phillips”)
* Supporting actress: Jennifer Lawrence (“American Hustle”)
* Director: Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”)
* Original screenplay: “American Hustle”
* Animated film: “Frozen”
* Documentary: “The Act of Killing”
* Foreign film: “The Great Beauty”
* Cinematography: “Gravity”
* Costume design: “The Great Gatsby”
* Editing: “Rush”
* Make-up and hair: “American Hustle”
* Music: “Gravity”
* Production design: “The Great Gatsby”
* Sound: “Gravity”
* Visual effects: “Gravity”
* Short animation: “Sleeping with the Fishes”
* Short film: “Room 8”
* Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer: Kieran Evans (writer-director, “Kelly + Victor”)
* Rising Star award: Will Poulter



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