Geoffrey Macnab: This year the British found themselves out in the cold

 

After the triumph that The King's Speech enjoyed last year, the Baftas 2012 were a disappointment for the Brits. The hopes that Gary Oldman or Michael Fassbender might pip The Artist's Jean Dujardin to the Best Actor award were dashed. Many had thought that Kenneth Branagh would win a Supporting Actor award for his perfectly-measured portrayal of Laurence Olivier in My Night With Marilyn. In the event, Branagh lost out to Christopher Plummer for Beginners.

If the momentum behind The Artist is becoming well-nigh unstoppable, so is that behind The Iron Lady. Meryl Streep won for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher – and she too is beginning to look a shoo-in for the Oscars.

The British didn't emerge entirely empty-handed. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy won two awards. George Clooney's The Descendants was one strongly-tipped film that voters ignored.

The Baftas have a strange double identity that reflects British cinema's twisted relationship with Hollywood. On the one hand, they're our own national cinema awards and unashamedly celebrate the Best of British. On the other, they're the precursors to the Oscars (which take place in a fortnight). This year, the only film really making a noise at the Baftas was the silent one.

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