The EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) honored 12 Years A Slave and Gravity with the most awards during Sunday night’s ceremony at the Royal Opera House in London.
12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen accepted the Best Movie award and the film also won in the Best Actor category with Chiwetel Ejiofor.
In his somewhat subdued acceptance speech McQueen told the packed hall which included Prince William sitting in the front row:
“There are 21 million people in slavery now as we sit here. I just hope that 150 years from now our ambivalence will not allow another film-maker to make this film.”
For his part, the British born actor Chiwetel Ejiofor accepted his Best Actor BAFTA awards to a rousing ovation from those attending and beat his tough competition, which included such household names as Leonardo diCaprio (The Wolff Of Wall Street), Christian Bale (American Hustle), and Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips).
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’12 Years A Slave’ big Bafta winner as Hollywood comes to London pic.twitter.com/5FyMFwspWw
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12 Years A Slave and Ejiofor are now strong candidates to repeat their feat when the Academy Awards are presented in Hollywood next month.
The other big winner of the night at the BAFTA awards on Sunday was the space odyssey Gravity, which won six awards — one award short of The Artist in 2012 and The King’s Speech in 2011 — taking Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron and Best British film.
Gravity also won a BAFTA award for Special Effects, beating out such blockbusters as The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and Pacific Rim.
The record nine BAFTA awards for a movie still belongs to the 1969 American Western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring the classic pair of Paul Newman and Robert Redford.
In a night in which the usual suspects for the biggest awards were not being called to accept BAFTA awards, the loudest round of applause by far came when newcomer Barkhad Abdi was awarded the Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of a Somali pirate in Captain Phillips.
As Ejiofor, Abdi had to contend with such well known established names as Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Matt Damon (Behind The Candelabra), Daniel Bruhl (Rush), and Michael Fassbender (12 Years A Slave), he thanked co-star Tom Hanks and director Paul Greengrass for “believing in me before I believed in myself.”
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One of the most inspirational stories of the BAFTA awards, Abdi — who used to be a limousine driver in Minneapolis — was cast for the real-life story adaptation after showing up to the audition on a whim.
Another of the highlights of the night came when Prince William presented Dame Helen Mirren with the highest BAFTA awarded, a fellowship and is was fitting that Queen Elizabeth’s grandson presented the honor.
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“I should probably call her granny,” the royal joked as he handed the BAFTA award to Mirren referring to her portrayal of his grandmother in The Queen.