Awards season

‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ wins big in a politically-charged BAFTA ceremony

Martin McDonagh’s crime drama won best film and four other trophies, while best director went to Guillermo del Toro for ‘The Shape of Water’.

Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri took home five trophies, including Best Film, at the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday. The crime drama chronicles the story of a mother who takes on the local authorities by renting billboards to attract attention to her daughter’s unsolved murder. The movie also took home awards in the Outstanding British Film, Leading Actress (Frances McDormand), Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell) and Original Screenplay (McDonagh) categories.

The Hollywood-led Times Up campaign against sexual harassment dominated the stage at the BAFTAs this year. As a show of solidarity with the movement, several actors wore black to the ceremony, held at London’s Royal Albert Hall. A notable exception was Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, dressed in olive green. Reports speculated that she had to refrain from making a political statement as a member of the royal family.

The choice of dressing in all-black as a protest strategy was first seen during the Golden Globes on January 7.

Another exception was McDormand, whose printed dress was more red than black. While accepting her best actress award, she addressed her partial compliance with the dress code, but reiterated her support for the movement. “As Martin [McDonagh] said, I have a little trouble with compliance,” the actress said. “But I want you to know I stand in alliance with my sisters in black,” she said while accepting her award for best leading actress. “In drama school I was told I wasn’t naturally gifted and I should work at it. So I did.”

Mc Donagh also took note of the political undercurrent to the award ceremony: “What I’m most proud of, especially in this Time’s Up year, is it [Three Billboards] is a film about a woman who refuses to take any more shit.”

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

The other big winner of the night was Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy romance The Shape of Water. The movie, which traces the love story between a woman and an amphibious creature trapped at a research facility, took home trophies for best director (del Toro), original music (Alexandre Desplat), and production design. This was Desplat’s third BAFTA win in this category after The King’s Speech (2010) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).

Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour won two awards, including best actor for Gary Oldman, who plays Winston Churchill in the war drama. This was Oldman’s first BAFTA win and third nomination in this category. He had previously been nominated for Mike Leigh’s Prick Up Your Ears (1987) and Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011). The movie’s second win was in the best make-up and hair category.

Allison Janney won best supporting actress for her performance in I, Tonya, while Get Out actor Daniel Kaluuya won the EE Rising Star award, which is decided through a public vote.

Blade Runner 2049 took home a trophy each for cinematography (for Roger Deakins) and special effects. The award for sound went to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, while Baby Driver won in the editing category.

Raoul Peck’s I am not a Negro, which traces history of racism in the United States, won the award for Best Documentary, while Pixar Animation Studios’s Coco won the trophy for Best Animated Film.

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