On A Night Full of Surprises, "Atonement" wins Best Film at the British Academy Film Awards

By Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel

February 11, 2008

On an unpredictable night last night at Covent Garden's Royal Opera Hall in Central London, "Atonement" came away with the British Academy Film Awards' biggest prize.  With 14 nominations to its name and just one win before the night's penultimate award, the film's director Joe Wright can't have been happy.  After the announcement by Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum of the film however, all of the frustration melted away.  "I remember standing here having grumbled after accepting . . . for 'Pride & Prejudice' a few years ago, but I don't have any complaints now," said Mr. Wright as he happily spoke when invited to do so by the producers of "Atonement", an all-British production.

Anthony Hopkins was given a lifetime Academy Fellowship award for his excellence in acting and he saluted Sir Richard Attenborough, who presented the award to him.  "All I can say is that my life in this acting game has just been . . . a surprise -- I'm surprised that I'm still here," said Mr. Hopkins, who at age 70 has a resume of film roles since 1967. 

In the best actress category, Marion Cotillard received warm and rapturous applause as she was announced as the recipient for her work as legendary French singer Edith Piaf in "La Vie En Rose".  Ms. Cotillard was so astonished by the announcement that she could hardly speak.  "Thank you so much for giving this to me.  It has been the most incredible adventure," she said.  "I enjoyed every single second of this incredible adventure . . . thank you so much.  I love you for giving this to me," Ms. Cotillard beamed.  Julie Christie was expected to win for her portrayal of a spouse with Alzheimer's in "Away From Her".  The British actress is still the favorite for the Oscars in two weeks' time, but Ms. Cotillard's win arguably gave the young French actress momentum. 

Speaking of momentum, Daniel Day-Lewis easily won in the Best Actor category for his role as Daniel Plainview in "There Will Be Blood".  In his typically humble and self-deflecting way he spent his moment on stage talking about Cotillard.  "Never mind all the other qualities of her astonishing performance, for sheer balls alone Marion Cotillard deserves this one as well," said Mr. Day-Lewis, holding up his BAFTA award.  In an amusing speech he talked about playing with mates in his schoolyard days in London and added that on Paul Thomas Anderson's film he got to play with Paul Dano (who plays Eli Sunday in "Blood".)  Mr. Day-Lewis dedicated the award to Mr. Anderson, Mr. Dano and the rest of the cast of the film. 

On the supporting side, Javier Bardem unexpectedly won for "No Country For Old Men", even though he is an odds-on favorite to win stateside.  Mr. Bardem looked surprised as he heard his name, and saluted Britain and its industry of great performers over the years.  Mr. Bardem plays Anton Chigurh, a bad-to-the marrow bone man whose killing ways spares no blushes in the search for his pilfered drug money.  Scotland's Tilda Swinton was a surprise winner and the look on her face was priceless as she was announced as best supporting actress for her role as corporate attorney Karen Crowder in "Michael Clayton".  Wearing an extravagant dark mustard yellow boxy dress with black feathers and frills -- the kind of dress that could scorch retinas -- Ms. Swinton engages in a bit of self-mockery: "If I had known I was going to win I wouldn't have worn this skirt," adding in jest that "George Clooney was a bastard to work with."  Mr. Clooney and Ms. Swinton are both up for Oscars in two weeks; Clooney for the title role, in "Michael Clayton".    

Joel Coen accepted the Best Director award for "No Country For Old Men" on behalf of his brother Ethan, with Diablo Cody surprised that she won best original screenplay award for "Juno".  Ronald Harwood won for best adapted screenplay of Jean-Dominque Bauby's memoir "The Diving Bell and The Butterfly".

Other winners:

Best British Film -- "This Is England"

Best Film Not In The English Language -- "The Lives of Others" ("Das Leben Der Anderen")

Orange Rising Star Award (public vote) -- Shia LaBeouf

Outstanding Contribution to and Achievement in British Cinema -- Barry Wilkinson

Best Animated Film -- "Ratatouille"

Carl Foreman Award for Special Achievement in Writing -- Matt Greenhalgh, "Control"

Best Music -- Christopher Gunning, "La Vie En Rose"

Best Cinematography -- Roger Deakins, "No Country For Old Men"

Best Editing -- Christopher Rouse, "The Bourne Ultimatum"

Best Production Design -- Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer, "Atonement"

Best Costume Design -- Marit Allen, "La Vie En Rose"

Best Sound -- Kirk Francis, Scott Millan, David Parker, Karen Baker Landers, Per Hallberg, "The Bourne Ultimatum"

Best Special Visual Effects -- Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris, Trevor Wood, "The Golden Compass"

Best Make-Up and Hair -- Jan Archibald, Didier Lavergne, "La Vie En Rose"

Best Short Animation -- "The Pearce Sisters", Jo Allen and Luis Cook

Best Short Film -- "Dog Altogether", Diarmid Scrimshaw, Paddy Considine

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