BAFTA Recap: The Best Awards Show Americans Don’t Get to See

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Were you too busy watching Downton Abbey on Sunday to realize a bit of present-day British culture was taking place? The 67th British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards took place the same night, with Gravity floating away as the night’s biggest winner, scooping up six awards.

However, Best Film and Leading Actor nods were beyond its pull, with both awards going to 12 Years a Slave. Chiwetel Ejiofor was honored as the leading actor winner for his portrayal of Solomon Northup, and British director Steve McQueen accepted the film award. Gravity won its accolades in the categories of Director (Alfonso Cuarón), Outstanding British Film, Cinematography, Original Music, Special Visual Effects, and Sound.

Stephen Fry hosted the ceremony, which took place at the London Opera House. Prince William added royal stature to the star-studded evening when he presented Dame Helen Mirren with the Academy’s highest honor, the Fellowship award. The Duke of Cambridge jokingly said he ought to call her “granny,” a reference to her on-screen depiction of the reigning British monarch. “This is the greatest professional honour I can imagine, certainly one I never dreamt of as a schoolgirl in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex. To join that list of legendary names is overwhelming,” BAFTA reports Mirren saying upon hearing the news.

The BAFTA awards are considered the across-the-pond counterpart to the Academy Awards. As the Hollywood Reporter explains, from 1994 to 2000, the awards were held after the Oscars had been handed out, causing few to pay much heed to the awards. Then, in 2001, the BAFTA schedule was changed so that the British awards would be announced before the Oscars. Now, the BAFTA award show importance is growing, and it is considered an influencer on the overall awards season, which is helping cement its place as a key red carpet stop for celebrities.

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