Eddie Redmayne hailed Stephen Hawking and his “incredible” family after being named best actor at the Baftas for his portrayal of the astrophysicist in The Theory of Everything, which also won outstanding British film.
Hawking and his family were at the British Academy Film Awards to witness Redmayne’s win for a part he called a "role of a lifetime" on the most prestigious night in the UK’s film calendar.
The actor dedicated the award to three families: his own, his “professional family” who worked on the film and to the Hawking family and hailed their “great strength and passion for life”.
This is his third award for the role which shows Hawking meeting his former wife Jane at university before the onset of motor neurone disease (also known as ALS). After winning the Bafta, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards, he will be hot favourite for the Oscar later this month.
Redmayne’s co-star Felicity Jones missed out on the best actress award, which went to Julianne Moore, who played an Alzheimer’s sufferer in Still Alice.
Boyhood, the US independent film that took 12 years to make, was named best film and its helmer Richard Linklater won best director.
It beat The Theory of Everything, which won the outstanding British film, the first award to be announced on the night. Eric Fellner, co-founder of the film’s producer Working Title, said it was a “privilege” to win “in a year of amazing British films”.
Thanking Professor Hawking and everyone depicted in the film, which also won best adapted screenplay, Fellner said: “Without their great story there would be no film.”
Director James Marsh said it was particularly pleasing to have one the award for outstanding British film “as it is such a British story… It grew out of English soil”.
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The Grand Budapest Hotel picked up five awards including costume design, and make up and hair. Whiplash, the jazz “thriller” won three including best supporting actor for JK Simmons.
Patricia Arquette won best supporting actress for her role in Boyhood, beating Imelda Staunton and Keira Knightley. “This film was a work of art,” Arquette said on the podium before addressing director Linklater: “You broke the rules of cinema; you made an ordinary story extraordinary.”
Mike Leigh was given a Bafta Fellowship in the year that his highly acclaimed film Mr Turner was overlooked by the academy. He said: “This is very nice indeed, I’ve never appeared on this stage before.” He added that those who expected him to be rude about the snub for his film, they would be “disappointed”.
He made an impassioned speech thanking those who had backed him, before adding: “To those boneheads, philistines and uninspired skinflints who said no, a big thank you to you as well. If you’d said yes you’ve had interfered with the movie… and made a pig’s ear of the whole thing… Thank you for keeping away, and may you all rot in hell.”
The award for rising star went to Jack O’Connell, the star of films including ’71 and Starred Up. Previous winners include James McAvoy, Eva Green and Tom Hardy.
The Lego Movie, which was surprisingly overlooked for an Oscar nomination, won best animation film. In accepting the award, the directors jokingly took a dig at the American voters.
“You win the award for best academy,” Phil Lord said after accepting the award with Christopher Miller. “You are our favourite academy.”
The award for film not in the English language went to Polish movie Ida, and surprisingly not to Leviathan, which won at the London Film Festival and had been heavily tipped to win.
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