Baftas 2014: 12 Years a Slave defies Gravity to claim top prize

Steve McQueen's slavery epic wins two awards, but Gravity named biggest winner of the night with six awards

Fifteen years after winning a Turner Prize for his art, the film director Steve McQueen picked up the best film trophy at the EE British Academy Film Awards last night for his drama 12 Years A Slave, on a night where the big-budget British blockbuster Gravity was the other main winner.

McQueen, a Londoner, became the first black film-maker to win the best film Bafta. The director, 44, thanked his parents, before saying: “Faith, never give up … This means a hell of a lot.”

12 Years A Slave is a historical drama based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the US in the 1840s.

McQueen said his partner, the cultural critic Bianca Stigter, discovered the story. “As soon as I had the book in my hand it was a revelation. Every page was a revelation,” he said. “We can put it back in its rightful spot. Everyone in the world now knows who Solomon Northup is.”

The film stars another Londoner, Chiwetel Ejiofor, who was named best actor for his role as Northup. “Wow, wow, wow,” Ejiofor said. “ I’m so deeply honoured and privileged to receive it.” He hailed director McQueen for “your work, artistry and passion”, and said winning a Bafta was “an incredible feeling”.

“I’ve been acting for a while and was here before,” Ejiofor added. “I’ve always been thrilled and excited by Bafta.”

Cate Blanchett was named best actress for her role in Woody Allen’s bittersweet comedy Blue Jasmine. She dedicated her win to the US actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died earlier this month.

Read more: Baftas 2014: Chiwetel Ejiofor wins Best Actor
Baftas 2014: Cate Blanchett wins Best Actress for Blue Jasmine

Gravity, the sci-fi blockbuster that sent Sandra Bullock into space with George Clooney, won six awards, including best director for the Mexican film-maker, Alfonso Cuaron. "You can't tell by my accent, but I consider myself to be a part of the British film industry," he said.

Cuaron later returned to the stage at the Royal Opera House in London with his producer, David Heyman, to collect Gravity’s award for outstanding British film.

There had been controversy over whether the $100m Hollywood blockbuster should be entered into the category. “I don’t need to set the record straight,” Cuaron insisted. “There are a series of rules that makes it a British film and this has all the requirements.”

Gravity was filmed in the UK, the vast majority of the crew who worked on it were based here, and Cuaron has lived in the UK for more than a decade.

Heyman, a British producer, said the award recognised “everyone working on the film - we had the most incredible crew”.

He went on to pay tribute to Framestore, a special effects company based in London’s Soho, which created the ground-breaking visuals of astronauts in peril after their spaceship is hit by satellite debris.

Gravity, which had an effects team of 450, won Baftas for best special effects, best sound and best original music.

This player is used within article copy as first element. Default size is 630w but FC code uses it for 460w article layout.

Read more: Baftas 2014: Winners list in full
Baftas 2014: Gravity wins Outstanding British Film

Others nominees for outstanding British film included Philomena, which won the best adapted screenplay award and stars Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, and the Bradford-based kitchen-sink drama The Selfish Giant.

The best supporting actor prize went to Barkhad Abdi, who plays a Somali pirate in his debut film Captain Phillips, with Tom Hanks. Abdi was born in Mogadishu but moved to the US, where he worked as a limousine driver before landing a part in the film after an open audition. He said: “I’m loving every moment of it. It’s quite a dream.”

Jennifer Lawrence was named best supporting actress for American Hustle, which also won best original screenplay and best make-up and hair.

Peter Greenaway, the director whose body of work includes 8½ Women, The Draughtsman’s Contract and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, was honoured for his outstanding contribution to British cinema.

This year’s fellowship of the British Academy, the highest honour it can bestow, was presented to Dame Helen Mirren by the Duke of Cambridge.

Prince William described her as “an extremely talented British actress who I should probably call ‘Granny’” because she had played the Queen on stage and screen.

Collecting her honour, Dame Helen, 68, paid tribute to her former teacher who died recently and “alone was the person who encouraged me to be an actor”.

Accepting her accolade as “encouragement to carry on”, she then made an impassioned speech in support of the National Youth Theatre, saying: “The way [acting] is going it’s becoming a prerogative for kids with money. We couldn’t afford it.”

Dame Helen ended by quoting from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, saying: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep”.

She added: “My little life is rounded with this honour, thank you very much indeed.”

Later, when asked what she had thought about Prince William’s quip, she replied: “I wanted to take out a hankie, spit on it and wipe his face.”

Read more: Helen Mirren criticises growing portrayal of dead women in dramas
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?