Chiwetel Ejiofor won Best Actor at the BAFTAs for his role as Solomon Northup in Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave." Credit: Getty
The United Kingdom took its turn in the awards season spotlight Sunday with the ceremony to hand out the annual BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) film awards. And this year, it seems like BAFTA may have sealed more than one fate for Oscar night, coming up in just two weeks.
The big winner of the night was Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave," which won for Best Film and Best Actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is probably relieved that awards season juggernaut Matthew McConaughey wasn't nominated. But his co-star, Lupita Nyong'o, lost out to "American Hustle" star Jennifer Lawrence for Best Supporting Actress, leaving that Oscar race just as up in the air as ever.
In a rare moment of controversy for BAFTA, Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity" — the main rival to "12 Years a Slave" for the Best Picture Oscar — was awarded Best British Film, though some argue that its inclusion in the category is suspect. The groundbreaking space drama was filmed in Great Britain, though, and its cutting-edge visual effects were developed there. But the only real criteria for a film to be up for a Best British Film nomination is the producers listing it as such when they submit for BAFTA consideration — something Best Film winner "12 Years a Slave" didn't do, despite being directed and co-produced by British director McQueen.
Cate Blanchett looks to be practically unstoppable in the Best Actress Oscar race at this point, adding a BAFTA to her long list of trophies for her role in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine." And while Dame Judi Dench lost out to Blanchett, she did set a record by earning her 15th acting nomination. "I didn't know until you told me," she joked with the BBC on the red carpet before the ceremony. "Thanks for reminding me."
The ceremony was hosted by Stephen Fry, guiding the ceremonies for the ninth time. And BAFTA President Prince William was on hand to award the British Academy fellowship to Dame Helen Mirren, who previously earned a BAFTA for playing his grandmother in "The Queen."
2014 BAFTA Film Award Winners
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" Adapted Screenplay: "Philomena" 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" Makeup and Hair: "American Hustle" Music: "Gravity" Production Design: "The Great Gatsby" Sound: "Gravity" Visual Effects: "Gravity" Rising Star Award: Will Poulter British Academy Fellowship: Helen Mirren