'1917 -WINS BIG - BAFTAs- 2020'

Sam Mendes' war drama named Best Film on a night marked by diversity speeches and a visit from British Royalty.

Sweeping World War 1 odyssey 1917 won big at Sunday's Baftas, landing the Best Film Prize and Best Director trophy for Sam Mendes and so, putting it in line for potential Oscars glory next weekend.

The film, which follows two British soldiers on a perilous mission across no man's land, had already scooped the Golden Globe Best Drama, and has 10 Academy Award nominations including for Best Picture.

Hailed as a groundbreaking piece of cinema, it scooped seven of the nine prizes. It was nominated for at Britain's top film awards, including the cinematography, production design, sound and special visual effects.

''It's moving for me to get this in my hometown for the first tome,'' said Mendes, the first  Britiah winner of the Best Director Bafta since Danny Boyle prevailed in 2009 for Slumdog Millionaire.

''Thank you to all the people who have gone to see this in the cinemas,'' he told the star studded ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

At this year's Baftas, the same five films filled the  Best Film and Best Director nominations. Joining 1917 and Mendes were Joker [Todd Phillips], South Korean comedy thriller Parasite [Bong Joon-ho]; the Irishman [Martin Scorsese] and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino.

The evening proved particularly anticlimactic for the latter two : Tarentino's comedy-drama won just one award - Brad Pitt for Best Supporting Actor - while Scorcese's crime flick finished empty-handed.

But the evening was perhaps equally disappointing for hit film Joker, which led the way with 11 nominations but ended with just three prizes, including Joaquin Phoenix for Best Actor.

He beat Hollywood heavyweight Lenardo DiCaprio [Once Upon a Time in Hollywood] as well as Adam Driver [Marriage Story], Taron Egerton [Rocketman] and Jonathan Pryce [The Two Popes].

The ceremony was hosted by TV chat show presenter Graham Norton, with Prince Williams and Kate Middleton adding some royal glamour to his 10th year as Bafta president.

William presented the Academy Fellowship, its highest accolade, to American producer Katherine Kennedy, the boss of Lucasfilm, and behind some of the biggest-grossing films ever. They include the Star Wars sequels, Jurassic Park, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial and the Back to the Future trilogy.

Meanwhile British actor Andy Serkis received the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award for his pioneering motion-capture acting for computer-generated characters.

The 55-year-old's roles include Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Caesar in planet of the Apes reboot, the titular gorilla in King Kong and Supreme Leader Snoke in two Star Wars sequels. [AFP]


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