BAFTA awards: '1917' wins best film and best director - GulfToday

BAFTA awards: '1917' wins best film and best director

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes poses with the Best Director award for '1917.' AP

Over 20 years ago, director Steven Spielberg tellingly manifested the D-Day landings in his gripping war film Saving Private Ryan. There were other war movies too, such as Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, which won an Academy Award for best picture. Now, the  First World War drama "1917" has stormed the British Academy Film Awards, also picking up the gong for best picture and best director for Sam Mendes, apart from five other awards.

The thrilling drama was also honoured in the outstanding British film, sound, production design, cinematography and special visual effects categories.

Britain's top movie awards have been criticised for having all-white shortlists in its acting categories and an all-male one for director, triggering the use of the hashtag #BaftasSoWhite on social media.

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Joaquin Phoenix poses with the award for a Leading Actor for his work on the film 'Joker.' AFP

BAFTA boss Amanda Berry had said she was "very disappointed" by the lack of diversity.

Joaquin Phoenix, voted best actor for his critically acclaimed transformation in "Joker", addressed the issue head on in his acceptance speech.

The industry was sending "a very clear message to people of colour that you're not welcome here", he said, adding it "was on us" to dismantle a system of oppression.

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Renee Zellweger poses with the award for a Leading Actress for her work on the film 'Judy.' AFP 

Award presenter Rebel Wilson drew the biggest laughs and cheers of the evening when, after reading out the all-male best director list, said: "I don't think I could do what they do, honestly I just don't have the balls".

Actress Scarlett Johansson, who missed out in the leading and supporting actress categories, told Reuters the all-male directing shortlist showed women were being held back and the industry had to be mindful of the issue.

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Laura Dern, winner of Best Supporting Actress for Marriage Story, poses with her award. AP

"It's pretty disappointing, especially because there were so many great films this year that happened to be directed by women," she said.

Renee Zellweger beat Johansson to the best actress gong for her portrayal of Judy Garland in "Judy". The two will go head-to-head again at the Oscars on Feb. 9.

It was a frustrating evening for Netflix's "The Irishman", Martin Scorsese's star-studded gangster drama, which was nominated in 10 categories but left empty handed.

The streaming giant, however, fared better with divorce drama "Marriage Story", which saw Laura Dern win best supporting actress.

Brad Pitt picked up best supporting actor for Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood", the only success for a movie nominated for 10 awards. Bong Joon Ho's darkly comic film "Parasite" triumphed in the original screenplay and film not in the English language categories at the ceremony at London's Royal Albert Hall.

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