The biggest talking points from the BAFTAs 2022

Every snub, shock and surprise at the glitzy awards night

After last year’s largely virtual ceremony, the BAFTAs returned tonight as a proper, in-person event at London’s Royal Albert Hall. It’s fair to say it wasn’t an awards show for the ages – more on this later – but there was still plenty to chew over, not least Rebel Wilson giving Putin the middle finger. Here are the main talking points.

Dame Shirley Bassey opened the show in style

To mark the 60th anniversary of the Bond franchise, the legendary belter jetted in from Monaco to deliver an epic rendition of ‘Diamonds Are Forever’. At 85, her voice remains fully capable of filling the Royal Albert Hall to the rafters. David Baddiel summed it up perfectly when he tweeted that there is “something so moving about Dame Shirley Bassey still totally being Dame Shirley Bassey”.

Dune was the big winner with five awards

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Denis Villeneuve‘s desert-based blockbuster took home the prizes for Original Score, Cinematography, Production Design, Sound and Special Visual Effects. In fairness, this wasn’t entirely unexpected: Dune came into the ceremony with more nominations than any other movie (11), and even film fans unconvinced by its storytelling can’t deny the technical brilliance involved.

But The Power of the Dog cemented its status as Oscar frontrunner

Kenneth Branagh’s moving tribute to his hometown, Belfast, may have had the home advantage, but Jane Campion’s Gothic Western still took home two of the biggest prizes: Best Picture and Best Director. Let’s hope Sam Elliott doesn’t take it too hard.

Branagh also lost out on the Best Original Screenplay gong to Licorice Pizza‘s Paul Thomas Anderson, who wasn’t there, which allowed Alana Haim and Radiohead‘s Jonny Greenwood to collect the trophy on his behalf. They were absolutely as charming about it as you’d expect. Still, Belfast didn’t go home empty-handed after winning the Outstanding British Film prize.

Joanna Scanlan, Ariana DeBose and Troy Kotsur were deserving winners

Scanlan beat Lady Gaga to the Best Actress price for her quietly devastating performance in After Love, the extraordinary debut feature from writer-director Aleem Khan. When the BAFTAs recognise a brilliant British indie film in this way, it’s always worth celebrating.

West Side Story‘s Ariana DeBose underlined her Oscar frontrunner status by winning Best Supporting Actress and CODA‘s Troy Kotsur proved he’s strong competition for Kodi Smit-McPhee by winning Best Supporting Actor. Kotsur also gave one of the best speeches of the night, in sign language aided by a translator, when he gamely put himself forward as Daniel Craig’s successor.

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Lashana Lynch won the EE Rising Star prize

Given that we’ve just seen Lynch in two massive blockbusters, No Time to Die and Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness, this award underlines her rise rather than anticipating it in any way. Still, there’s no denying it’s deserved, or the stirring sincerity of her speech.

Rebel Wilson got better as she went on

Look, hosting the BAFTAs is a tough gig. It’s difficult to extricate a certain stuffiness from proceedings, as Joanna Lumley found out when she gave a painfully unfunny performance in 2019. Wilson has offered fantastic value at the BAFTAs in the past when she’s shown up to present individual awards, but she had trouble stepping up to the big job tonight. Too many jokes didn’t quite land and some of her bits – such as presenting Benedict Cumberbatch with a cake shaped like its face – weren’t delivered with enough conviction not to feel slightly awkward.

Still, she read the room superbly by giving Putin the finger and did deliver some pithy zingers, especially late in the show. Before the Best Actor prize was handed out, she quipped mock-casually: “It’s nice to see men getting some work.”

There were quite a few no-shows

Paul Thomas Anderson wasn’t the only winner missing in action. Will Smith didn’t show up to collect his Best Actor prize, Jane Campion wasn’t there to pick up Best Director and Outstanding Film, and The Harder They Fall‘s Jeymes Samuels didn’t collect his trophy for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer. Most of these absences can probably be explained by the fact that the Critics’ Choice Awards, another big indicator of Oscars success, is taking place in LA tonight. Hopefully next year this scheduling clash can be avoided.

See all the winners from the 2021 BAFTAs here.

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