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Baftas 2021: Six key talking points, from a surprise Anthony Hopkins win to Liam Payne’s confusing CGI double

A rapid-fire show had moments of great levity as well as undeniable confusion

Adam White@__adamwhite
Sunday 11 April 2021 22:51
BAFTA supporting-actress winner thanks 'snobbish' British people

Tonight’s Bafta Film Awards saw Nomadland and Promising Young Woman take home the major wins in a ceremony that took place almost entirely over Zoom.

Edith Bowman and Dermot O’Leary hosted the show from London’s Royal Albert Hall, and were occasionally joined in person by presenters such as Hugh Grant and James McAvoy. All the night’s winners and nominees were based elsewhere, leading to a night of live-streamed speeches.

Among the more memorable moments of the night were delightful acceptance speeches by Rocks actor and EE Rising Star winner Bukky Bakray, as well as the Minari star Yuh-Jung Youn. The latter sparked hilarity by referring to the British people as “snobbish” while collecting her gong for Best Supporting Actress.

There was also a bizarre musical number by former One Direction member Liam Payne, who performed alongside a computer-generated double of himself.

The full list of tonight’s winners can be found here, while below you can find six of the night’s major talking points.

Barely any of these movies have come out yet!

Britain has valiantly steered clear of making at-home releases a new standard during the pandemic, out of the hope that cinemas will re-open to high demand momentarily. But it’s meant that something like Promising Young Woman, which was released on-demand in January in the USA, remains unavailable to (legally) see in the UK – though it will finally be released on Sky Cinema on 16 April. Almost all of the night’s major winners are in a similar boat, from The Father to Nomadland to Sound of Metal. It left this Baftas feeling oddly insider-y. Sure, those lucky enough to work in the media have been able to view these movies via private screeners, but what of everyone else?

Bukky Bakray

Bukky Bakray and Yuh-Jung Youn proved that Zoom speeches aren’t inherently tedious

Probably due to the circumstances, tonight’s winners speeches were a typically stiff affair. So thank you to Rocks star Bukky Bakray and Minari’s Yuh-Jung Youn, both of whom were funny, endearing and, in Youn’s case, brilliantly caustic. With awe-inspiring elegance, she called the British people “very snobbish”, leading everyone at home to presumably evaporate out of shame.

Promising Young Woman was the safe choice to make

Improved voting procedures and a wider pool of Bafta voters made this year’s nominees list one of the most interesting in years. It was therefore a bit disappointing to see Promising Young Woman scoop both Outstanding British Film and Best Original Screenplay – particularly when it was up against Rocks, His House and Saint Maud in the former category, while the film’s script is among its weaker elements.

A Hopkins win was one of the night’s big surprises

Sir Anthony Hopkins’ acting pedigree has long been beyond doubt – so why was it such a surprise to see him collect the Best Actor award? Well, for one thing, he beat out a handful of strong competitors, including Riz Ahmed, whose turn in Sound of Metal has been hailed as a career-best, and Chadwick Boseman. Boseman’s posthumous performance, in the Netflix-released period drama Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, had been widely tipped for Oscar glory. Hopkins previously won Bafta awards in 1992 and 1994 for The Silence of the Lambs and The Remains of the Day, and was later awarded the Fellowship in 2008. He was, before the result was announced, seen as almost a too-obvious choice – someone whose talents had already been thoroughly appreciated, who had, in a sense, already had their turn in the spotlight. It’s a testament to the strength of his work in The Father that he was able to transcend such a thing. What ramifications this could have for the Oscars in two weeks time remains to be seen. In this strange awards season, though, nothing is a given.

Daniel Kaluuya during his Best Supporting Actor speech at tonight’s Baftas

Edith Bowman and Dermot O’Leary weren’t half bad

Bafta has an almost supernatural ability to make even the most charismatic stars – among them Joanna Lumley and Graham Norton – completely die on stage when they host these things. So kudos to Edith Bowman and Dermot O’Leary, two safe pairs of hands who successfully steered this understandably odd semi-virtual ceremony. Bafta bosses were also smart to make this a remarkably efficient two hours, which somehow even managed to finish early. There was minimal fuss, few moments of cringe, and little time wasted. More of this, please, even when there isn’t a pandemic on.

Liam Payne was a choice

The Bafta producer who pitched an opening duet between Liam Payne and a virtually augmented version of himself? Honestly the bravest person in the UK. Give them a medal. Then sack them.

Relive all of tonight’s major moments in our live blog below...


Hello! Welcome to The Independent’s Bafta Film Awards live blog.

The show kicks off at 7pm tonight on BBC One, but first we’ll be taking you through the rest of the afternoon.

First up: the nominees!

Nomadland and Rocks lead this year’s nominations, and you can find the complete rundown of categories here.

Adam White11 April 2021 13:30

This year’s Baftas have been split into two ceremonies, with the first being broadcast last night (10 April).

The low-key affair saw Tenet and Sound of Metal take home prizes in the craft categories, as well as actor Noel Clarke receiving a special award for his contributions to British cinema.

Read the full list of last night’s winners here.

Adam White11 April 2021 13:45

The Baftas aren’t typically the most exciting of awards shows, mainly because they’ve spent the last decade struggling to emulate the Oscars. But, following a bit of scandal in the wake of last year’s Scarlett Johansson-filled nominees, the Baftas finally turned a page. Thanks to an influx of new Bafta voters, and a new tiered voting system, this year’s nominees are surprisingly interesting.

We even wrote a whole thing about it! Check out our comment piece on why the Baftas are finally worth paying attention to here.

Adam White11 April 2021 14:00

We also looked at some of the major snubs this year, some of which came as a big surprise. Olivia Colman and Carey Mulligan, national treasures and veritable English acting royalty, were both left out of the Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress categories, respectively.

Check out our list of snubs and surprises here.

Adam White11 April 2021 14:15

In advance of tonight’s show, why don’t we take a closer look at some of the major films spotlighted by Bafta?

First up, read Beth Webb’s gorgeous deep dive into the making of Rocks, which has received seven nominations.

Rocks shows that a group of loving, multi-ethnic girls can exist together onscreen untethered to any overwhelming trauma or romantic entanglements,” Webb writes.

Check it out here.

Adam White11 April 2021 14:30

Ellie Harrison also interviewed the human spark plug that is Kosar Ali, who steals the show in Rocks and has been deservedly nominated at tonight’s ceremony, for Best Supporting Actress.

Check out the interview here.

Adam White11 April 2021 14:45

The Mauritanian, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime, is up for five gongs, including Best British Film and Best Actor for Tahar Rahim.

Alexandra Pollard spoke to Rahim earlier this month, where the actor told her: “The Mauritanian is the first time I’ve seen a Hollywood movie with a sympathetic Muslim at the centre.”

Check out the interview here.

Adam White11 April 2021 15:00

Calm with Horses star Niamh Algar, vying for a Best Supporting Actress award tonight, has shared this post from Cape Town ahead of the ceremony

Louis Chilton11 April 2021 15:05

The Mauritanian also stars Benedict Cumberbatch, who told us earlier this month that he wants to personally petition Joe Biden to shut down Guantanamo Bay, after playing a military prosecutor in the film.

Check out James Mottram’s interview with the actor here.

Adam White11 April 2021 15:15

Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which marked the final acting role by the late, great Chadwick Boseman, is up for three Baftas tonight, including Boseman for Best Actor.

Stephanie Phillips spoke to the film’s director George C Wolfe about the making of the film, and the tragedy of Boseman’s death.

Check out her piece here.

Adam White11 April 2021 15:30

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