LONDON — One ring ruled them all at the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday night, with “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” winning five prizes, including best film.
But the British Academy of Film & TV Arts continued its tradition of spreading kudos far and wide, dividing its 19 main awards among 11 films.
Peter Jackson took the director nod, and the Tolkien epic also earned kudos for special visual effects and makeup/hair. Its haul was completed by the Orange film of the year prize, voted on by the public.
Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly won actor and supporting actress for “A Beautiful Mind,” even though the pic opened in the U.K. this weekend to widely negative reviews. Connelly’s triumph was a notable surprise, since the four other nominees in her category were all Brits.
Judi Dench, one of those defeated four (along with Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith and Kate Winslet), did win the considerable consolation of the best actress prize for “Iris.”
Jim Broadbent, in the supporting actor race, was one of three winners for “Moulin Rouge,” which also picked up awards for sound and music.
“Gosford Park,” omitted entirely from the film nominees, took the Alexander Korda Award for outstanding British film of the year, as well as the BAFTA for costume design.
“Amelie,” another best film contender, took prizes for original screenplay and production design. But it surprisingly missed out on foreign-language film kudos; winner was Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s tough Mexican movie “Amores Perros.”
“Shrek,” which had already won the BAFTA for kids film in a separate ceremony a couple of months ago, took the adapted screenplay gong. And even the dark horses went away with something — “The Man Who Wasn’t There” received the cinematography award, and “Mulholland Drive” was honored for editing.
BAFTA pulled off a star-studded evening at the Odeon Leicester Square in the heart of London’s West End, despite an icy downpour that brought a curious white foam of soap suds out of the red carpet.
That prompted Kevin Spacey, handing out an award, to ask host Stephen Fry, “What was that horribly soapy substance coming out of the red carpet? Judi Dench’s shoes are ruined, and she’s holding you responsible.” Fry suggested that it was the residue of “years of greasy flattery.”
Warren Beatty, accompanied by wife Annette Bening, accepted a BAFTA Fellowship, only the eighth American to receive the honor. He threatened to “free associate into eternity” about his experiences shooting in Britain, but confined himself to saying that “so much of what I managed to learn about making movies I learned here.”
“When I take this award home to Los Angeles, it will make it much easier to convince my 10-year-old, my 7-year-old, my 5-year-old and my 2-year-old of my mammoth importance,” he joked.
Director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant and writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala also accepted a joint Fellowship. Stunt coordinator and action director Vic Armstrong won the Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema. Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli accepted a special award from BAFTA for their company Eon Prods., maker of the James Bond movies.
With BAFTA determined to stick to a crisp two-hour running time for its show, speeches were kept short and largely without incident. Crowe quoted poetry, and said, “I love my job and I don’t think I do it that well, but keep on disagreeing with me.”
Inarritu, jumping up and down with joy, and Connelly were clearly the most shocked of all the winners, in an evening that included several surprises.
Director Joel Hopkins and writer-producer Nicola Usborne were also taken aback to win the Carl Foreman Award for British newcomer, for their film “Jump Tomorrow.”
Richard Attenborough, chairman of BAFTA’s trustees, was confirmed as the org’s new president.