The biggest talking points from the BAFTAs 2020

There were still a few memorable moments on a fairly muted evening

The BAFTAs took place at London’s Royal Albert Hall tonight (January 6), ushering some of the film industry’s biggest names into the grand venue. Although the night passed without too many headline-grabbing events, there were some talking points that will be the memorable moments of an otherwise muted night. Catch up on them below and find out who won what here.

1917’s domination hints at possible Oscars glory

It would have been entirely reasonable to think that the film that would dominate the BAFTAs this year would be Joker – after all, it did score the most nominations with a whopping 11. And yet the night’s overall winner was not the comic book movie, but Sam Mendes’ one-shot war film 1917. It picked up a grand total of seven awards including Best Film and Outstanding British Film, which could hint to success at the Oscars next weekend too. The film is nominated for 10 awards at the LA ceremony, including Best Picture and Best Director, and it’s certainly in with a shout – 16 war movies have picked up Best Picture in the past, while the voting academy could decide to reward the film’s unconventional shooting style with some statuettes.

Rebel Wilson saves the ceremony from becoming a snooze fest

One striking thing about this year’s BAFTAs was that it just wasn’t exactly full of laughs. Host Graham Norton’s script was full of predictable targets, like the length of The Irishman – a point that’s already been hammered enough this awards season. Brad Pitt nearly took the title of funniest acceptance speech – without even attending the ceremony – but then Rebel Wilson took to the podium and single-handedly saved the night.


Wilson was at the BAFTAs to hand out the award for Best Director – a category with only male nominees. She made sure to reference that before passing the trophy onto its eventual winner, saying: “I couldn’t do what they do – I just don’t have the balls.”

The rest of her time on stage was just as hilarious. She explained her red and black outfit had been made from sewing two old dresses together. “The red is from that one time I didn’t win Miss Australia and the black is from a funeral I just went to for the feature film Cats,” she said. That movie, which she starred in, also got another mention when Wilson noted it was “strangely not nominated for any awards” and joked there was a “distinct lack of nominations for felines”.

Prince Andrew also got a mention when Wilson misremembered the name of the venue, the Royal Albert Hall. Funnier was the cameras cutting to Prince William and Kate Middleton, faces trying not to convey any particular emotion. The whole thing had Andrew Scott crying with laughter – and was about the only point of the night that would have been bothering anyone’s tear ducts.

Avoiding the big issues

Awards ceremonies are usually stages for stars to share their opinions on current world events, be that by humorously skewering politicians or passionately calling for change. With the UK leaving the EU just two days before the BAFTAs, you might expect this year’s event to tackle that pretty major occurrence either in host Graham Norton’s script or in the winners’ acceptance speeches. But there was barely a mention of the country’s new independence.


Brad Pitt did it best in a speech read out by Margot Robbie (the actor did not attend the BAFTAs due to “family obligations”). “Hey Britain, heard you just became single – welcome to the club,” his message read, before Pitt went on to crack a joke about Prince Harry stepping back from the Royal Family. “He says he is going to name this Harry because he is really excited about bringing it back to the States with him,” Robbie said. “His words not mine.”

The white elephant in the room

Much like Brexit, the controversy around the lack of diversity in the BAFTAs nominations was also a topic that few seemed willing to touch tonight. It got a quick mention early on but then things went quiet until Joaquin Phoenix walked on stage to collect the award for Leading Actor and continued his run of using his time on stage to make some very strong points.

“I think that we send a very clear message to people of colour that you’re not welcome here, I think that’s the message that we’re sending to people that have contributed so much to our medium and our industry and in ways that we benefit from,” he said. “I don’t think anybody wants a hand-out or preferential treatment, although that’s what we give ourselves every year. I think people want to be appreciated and respected for their work.”

Don’t worry, Joaquin wasn’t absolving himself of any guilt in this problem – he acknowledged he was part of the problem and admitted the sets he’d worked on hadn’t been inclusive. It will be interesting to see if he goes beyond these words in the future and takes action to change that on his next projects.

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