Ben Affleck continues Argo’s unstoppable streak and claimed the best director and best film honors at the 66th British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) in London on Sunday night.
The wins come hot on the heels of Affleck’s triumph at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) awards, and cements Argo’s position as the clear frontrunner to take best picture at the upcoming Academy Awards.
Up against Michael Hanecke’s painful love story Amour, Quentin Tarantino’s visceral Django Unchained, Ang Lee’s gloriously life-affirming Life of Pi, and Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama Bin Laden thriller Zero Dark Thirty, voters went for Affleck’s Argo, the Iranian hostage drama that unfolded during the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Affleck’s shut out of the Oscar’s directing nominations, along with Kathryn Bigelow and Les Miserables’ Tom Hooper, has effectively become a winning hand in the awards season.
In addition to being nominated for seven Academy Awards, Affleck picked up the DGA award, the Best Director and Best Film award at the Critics’ Choice Awards earlier last month, followed by Argo winning best film and director at the Golden Globes, and top prizes at the Screen Actors Guild and the Producers Guild Award.
Earlier in the evening, Affleck lost out in the BAFTA’s leading actor category to Daniel Day Lewis, who stormed home for his portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.
But double glory was to come in the best film category when Argo contended and fought off the considerable might of Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty.
Amid profuse thanks to the backers of the film and a declaration of love for his wife Jennifer Garner and their children, on accepting his best director award Affleck dedicated his prize to “to anyone else out there who’s trying to get their second act.”
When the whole team took to the stage when Argo won best film, George Clooney, one of the producers of the film, quipped to Affleck:
“I’ve got to say Ben, if this is your second act, I don’t know what you’re going to do for a third act. You really are remarkable at what you do.”
Elsewhere in the star-packed Royal Opera House, France’s Emmanuelle Riva won best actress for Amour, while an inevitably tearful Anne Hathaway won best supporting actress for Les Miserables.
Christoph Waltz won best supporting actor for his role in Quentin Tarantino’s slavery western Django Unchained, whileSkyfall — the highest-grossing film in the James Bond franchise’s 50-year span — was named best British film, with Thomas Newman scooping the best score prize.
Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Amour, and Django Unchained, each won multiple BAFTA awards. However, Zero Dark Thirty came away with nothing.
Among the guests at the event were Sally Fields, Harvey Weinstein, Amy Adams, Tim Burton, Helena Bonham Carter, Thandie Newton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Gemma Arterton, Emilia Fox, Alice Eve, Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Hugh Jackman, Damian Lewis, Samuel L. Jackson and Danny Boyle.
According to The Associated Press, the BAFTAs are seen as a “key bellwether” for the Academy Awards. Clearly, Affleck can’t win the Oscar for best director, but in the field of best film the laurels for Argo are falling thick and fast.
Next stop for Argo, the 85th Academy Awards which will be presented in Los Angeles at the Dolby Theater on February 24.