The BAFTAs were nearly overshadowed by a diversity row thanks to the all-white acting line-up and lack of female directors – but there were plenty of other talking points on the night.
There were tears and laughter at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards, hosted by Graham Norton at the iconic Royal Albert Hall.
As 1917 swept the board, we take a look at some of the best moments of the night.
Like mother like daughter
History came full-circle for best supporting actress BAFTA winner Laura Dern, who took us back to her childhood in her acceptance speech.
Dern explained how as a six-year-old she looked on in wonder as her mother (actress Diane Ladd) brought home the very same award.
She said her mother had explained to her: “This is what friends give you to congratulate you for having the job you love”.
She also thanked Britain – “a country she loves” – and gave a shout out to her drama school RADA in central London – who knew!
What diversity problem?
Accepting the prize for best adapted screenplay, New Zealander Taika Waititi gave a nod to the lack of diversity in the nominations, joking that he’s “from colonies”, and can’t wait to get the statuette “back home where it belongs”.
The 44-year-old filmmaker also thanked his mother for introducing him to the book Caging Skies (on which his film Jojo Rabbit is based) and for making him read in general.
Good work, mum.
Gollum gets gold
The most agile actor in London, Andy Serkis, won outstanding British contribution to cinema… after walking the red carpet with crutches.
Serkis was treated to a standing ovation as he took to the stage. He thanked “the most important person in his life” (his wife Lorraine) and his three children Sonny, Ruby and Louis. He said he was particularly happy they let him “gallivant around the world without disowning him”.
He also gave a shout to his long-time collaborator, Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson, and his “extended family” in New Zealand. He thanked his “ape family” too, referencing Planet Of The Apes.
Finally, he thanked all the CGI and visual effects artists who he said had helped define such acting as “real” and helped it gain recognition across the world.
‘Let them hear your voice’
For Sama was crowned best documentary, telling the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria.
Described as “a love letter to her young daughter”, al-Kateab took her family onto the stage to accept her award, with young Sama held aloft in her father’s arms.
Renee Zellweger was among those pictured tearful in the audience.
Thanking the academy for the prize, al-Kateab said: “We should have been here in a moment, but we were hiding in a basement in Aleppo. We even discussed where we would bury our footage if we didn’t make it…
“People are being bombed right now, the people in Aleppo should hear our voices. The Syrian people need to hear the voices here from this great country, let them hear your voice.”
Parasite took home two awards – best original screenplay and film not in the English language.
Director Bong Joon Ho explained to the audience through an interpreter that when he was writing the script in a coffee shop he had no idea he’d one day end up accepting a prize at The Royal Albert Hall.
‘I’ll call it Harry’
Brad Pitt disappointed everyone by not turning up to collect his best supporting actor prize, but quickly made up for it with his bare-faced cheek.
Once again Pitt brought the funnies with his acceptance speech, leaving a detailed note for his Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood co-star Margot Robbie to deliver (which she did with aplomb).
Explaining that he couldn’t be there in person due to “a family commitment”, the-father-of-six kicked off with: “Hey Britain, I heard you just became single”.
His speech went on: “Welcome to the club, hope the divorce settlement goes well.”
Giving special thanks to director Quentin Tarantino, he went on to say he would be naming the gong “Harry” because he’s excited to take it back to the States with him. The cheeky nod to Prince Harry and Meghan’s move to North America went down a treat.
Thanks for the LOLs, Brad.
‘I’m a Scouser’
If you didn’t already love actor Stephen Graham, you will now. The Liverpudlian star presented the prize for film not in the English language, alongside statuesque Atlanta actress Zazie Beetz.
Not one to worry about being outshone by a beautiful lady, he joked about his suitability for presenting the foreign film prize: “I’m a Scouser – I’m used to people looking at me and saying, ‘He’s not speaking English.'”
Surely now he qualifies as a national treasure?
For his dad
Diversity was the buzzword going into these awards but one category that got it right was the rising star award.
Interestingly, this is the only one to be voted for by the public, with past winners including John Boyega, Tom Hardy and Juno Temple.
The fifteenth recipient was Top Boy and Blue Story star Michael Ward. Accepting his award, he admitted he’d planned a speech, but it had all gone from his head.
An emotional Ward then thanked his father, who he said was watching him from above, and his mother in the audience.
A close-up of his mum in the crowd showed her crying with pride. Ward said he hoped to inspire people at home, who can look at him and realise they too can achieve their vision.
Ward is very clearly a man to watch and the public can give themselves a pat on the back for spotting his talent early-doors.
Rebel with a cause
If anyone thought Brad Pitt’s royal joke was a little risque, they will definitely have had to look away when Rebel Wilson took to the stage armed with jokes about her vagina.
The Australian actress absolutely floored the crowd with a barrage of jokes that were close to the bone, but funny.
She kicked off with a gag about Prince Andrew not being at the event (BAFTA president Prince William and wife Kate looked like royal rabbits in the headlights).
She went on to say that her dress was a homage to her latest film Cats as she’d “worn it to the movie’s funeral”.
Finally moving on to the nominees in the directing category, she said she enjoyed holding the BAFTA (which she said could be used as a face-mask to ward off the coronavirus), but admitted she could never win one as she “didn’t have the balls”.
The nod to the complete lack of female directors in the category was well received by the audience.
Royals, gynaecology, balls and disease outbreak – Wilson’s speech really did have it all.
‘That’s on us’
Joaquin Phoenix gave a heartfelt acceptance speech as he took his gong for leading actor, and gave the industry a telling off to boot.
Phoenix, who had used his platform earlier in the day to urge people to “go vegan”, said he was “conflicted” that so many actors didn’t have the same privilege as him.
He went on to criticise what he called “a strong message in the industry” to actors of colour “that they’re not welcome here”.
Phoenix clarified that “no one wants preferential treatment, just recognition for their work”.
He concluded that he too was “part of the problem”, going on to say: “We have to do the hard work to truly understand systemic racism… People who have benefited from oppression need to dismantle it.
“That’s on us.”
Renee Zellweger fangirls Jessie Buckley
Renee Zellweger gave a shout to Irish actress Jessie Buckley as she accepted her leading actress award for biopic Judy, saying how excited she was at their “collaboration”.
“I love you, Jessie,” she said, before embarking on a long, long list of thank-yous.
The American star said the BAFTA was all the more special as she was accepting it in London, the town which Judy Garland loved and performed in.
Zellweger said: “Judy Garland, you loved London, and this shows that London still loves you back.”
And Hugh Grant fangirls Bridget Jones
As Renee Zellweger stepped from the podium, Hugh Grant stepped up to present the biggest prize – and he was channelling Daniel Cleaver.
Grant made sure he got in plenty of Bridget Jones references, saying Zellweger was “wearing a particularly silly little dress” that evening, and admitting he doesn’t normally rush to the stage unless it’s to “beat Collin Firth to a prize”.
Mark Darcy, unfortunately, wasn’t there to make up the trio, and the topic of “big knickers” wasn’t broached, but the unexpected mention of Bridget Jones at the 2020 BAFTAs could be just the nostalgia hit we all need to keep us going until the Oscars in a week’s time.
Whether Renee will pick up best actress on Hollywood’s biggest night remains to be seen, but as Bridget would say, in her cut-glass English accent, that would be “v.good”.