The fun at the Baftas really starts at the dinner. After the tension and excitement of the red carpet, and the awards ceremony at the Royal Opera House, the black-tied guests board a fleet of buses and driven to the Grosvenor House Hotel. As the venue for practically every awards – be they cool (Mercury Music Prize) or downright glamorous (the Farmer's Weekly awards) – the GHH is a fixture in the social calendar.
After clearing the table of food and drink, the assembled hacks do two things: first is to steal the placemats. They're themed with the nominees for best film, and there's a race to dash across the ballroom assembling the full set, like a sort of grown-up (or criminal) Happy Families.
That done, the second task is to try to talk to the film stars wandering around the room. A couple of hours of celebration or commiseration can often make them quite loquacious.
It can also make them quite forgetful, so the third thing is have a look around the loos. Not to check if anyone's up to no good – they've got to return those borrowed outfits – but to see if anyone has left their award on top of a cistern.
Then comes the after party. This year's was particularly good, with the Weinstein Company throwing a very late bash at the very new and very trendy Le Baron nightclub. For the actors and directors involved, it's like a post exam celebration.
Where else would you see Ralph Fiennes, Cuba Gooding Jr, Octavia Spencer and the cast of The Artist (none of them particularly publicity-seeking) all letting their hair down?
And there's more of a chance to see the stars than ever before. Like our own miniature version of the Oscars, the whole event now lasts all weekend. From Friday night to Sunday lunchtime, there are an increasing number of dinners, launches and lunches. Some might argue the whole thing is merely a vehicle for self-promotion and mutual-backslapping, but in between, there are a lot of people having fun.
Whether or not the British film industry is in crisis, and whether or not David Cameron is right that, as a nation, we need to produce more commercial films, are both issues for debate. What is not open to question, however, after last week, is whether we can hold an awards ceremony.
Next week I'll see how another embattled British industry fares, as the UK music business celebrates its annual hoo-ha – The Brit Awards.
- More about:
- 2010s Cinema
- Actors And Actresses
- David Cameron
- Male Actors
- Ralph Fiennes
- Romantic Comedy
- Silent Film