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A dog, a ’90s pop star and Marty McFly: All the best bits of the BAFTAs

Hosted by a sparking David Tennant, the BAFTA ceremony was packed with Hollywood A-listers, warming up ahead of next month’s Oscars.

Atomic bomb epic Oppenheimer was the big hitter of the night winning seven gongs, Frankenstein-inspired Poor Things bagged five and unsettling Holocaust drama The Zone Of Interest took three.

The show featured musical performances from Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Hannah Waddingham, as well as a comedy skit from Nick Mohammed’s alter ego Mr Swallow. Plus, there was a surprise appearance from Michael Sheen’s dog’.

BAFTAs host David Tennant. Pic: Joe Maher/BAFTA/Getty Images
Image: BAFTAs host David Tennant. Pic: Joe Maher/BAFTA/Getty Images

‘Bark Ruffalo’

First-time host David Tennant opened the show with a sketch featuring appearances from Michael Sheen, Georgia Tennant, Stanley Tucci, Himesh Patel, Tom Hiddleston and Dame Judi Dench.

The pre-filmed skit saw Tennant doing his best to find a dog sitter for Sheen’s dog “Bark Ruffalo”, but without success.

He then brought out into the audience a fluffy white dog and handed it to Sheen who was sitting in the front row, along with the warning: “Never work with animals or Michael Sheen”.

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Highlights from the BAFTAs 2024

As it turned out, Bark Ruffalo was not Sheen’s real-life pet pooch but the stage star Lilliput the Maltese, who has almost a quarter of a million Instagram followers.

Murder On The Dance Floor

Sophie Ellis-Bextor performed her 2001 hit Murder On The Dancefloor in the first part of the show.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor performs Murder On The Dance Floor at the 2024 BAFTAs. Pic: Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty Images
Image: Sophie Ellis-Bextor performs Murder On The Dance Floor at the 2024 BAFTAs. Pic: Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty Images

Its resurgence in the charts is thanks to its inclusion in the closing moments of psychological thriller Saltburn – accompanied in the film by a dance that left little to the imagination, performed by the movie’s star Barry Keoghan.

A viral hit – it’s earned Ellis-Bextor chat show appearances and plenty of buzz in the US.

With blue eye shadow, a voluminous dress and a host of backing dancers, she commanded the stage, and took the audience back to the early noughties.

A performance, her Blue Peter presenter mum – Janet Ellis – would have been proud of.

‘The walls we choose not to look behind’

Accepting the award for best film not in the English language, The Zone Of Interest producer James Wilson paid tribute to all those battling to survive in zones of conflict, namechecking Gaza, Yemen, Mariupol and Israel.

Sandra Huller in The Zone Of Interest. Pic: A24
Image: Sandra Huller in The Zone Of Interest. Pic: A24

The Jonathan Glazer movie, set during the Holocaust, tells the fictional story of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoss building his dream home next to the concentration camp with his wife Hedwig.

While not showing the horrors of war directly, the themes are front and centre, reminding us of the suffering inflicted by human conflict.

After namechecking the studio bosses behind the film, Wilson said: “A friend wrote me after seeing the film the other day that he couldn’t stop thinking about the walls we construct in our lives which we choose not to look behind.

“Those walls aren’t new from before or during or since the Holocaust, and it seems stark right now that we should care about innocent people being killed in Gaza or Yemen in the same way think about innocent people killed in Mariupol or in Israel.

“Thank you for recognising a film that asks you to think in those spaces.”

His political statement drew a large round of applause from the audience.

‘Resurrect my dwindling credibility’

Bagging the award for best support actor for his role as Lewis Strauss, head of the Atomic Energy Commission in Oppenheimer, Robert Downey Jr gave a whistle-stop tour of his career in around 30-seconds.

Robert Downey Jr accepts the supporting actor award for Oppenheimer. Pic: Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty Images
Image: Robert Downey Jr accepts the supporting actor award for Oppenheimer. Pic: Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty Images

Collecting the trophy, the Iron Man star paid tribute to Christopher Nolan, saying: “Recently that dude suggested I attempt an understated approach as a last-ditch effort to resurrect my dwindling credibility.”

He also said he owes the award to Oppenheimer producer Emma Thomas and the film’s star Cillian Murphy, as well as “British influence”.

The winner of best adapted screenplay, Cord Jefferson, also adopted a British accent for his presenting duties later in the night, handing out the best production design award, won by Poor Things.

‘You are so handsome’

Accepting her award for best supporting actress for her role in ’70s nostalgia fest The Holdovers, Da’vine Joy Randolph joked that it had all been worth thanks to the good looks of the award’s presenter, Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Da'Vine Joy Randolph accepts the supporting actress award for The Holdovers. Pic: Joe Maher/BAFTA/Getty Images
Image: Da’Vine Joy Randolph accepts the supporting actress award for The Holdovers. Pic: Joe Maher/BAFTA/Getty Images

“You are so handsome,” she told the British star, before explaining why it was so special for her to be back in London, the city she got her big break in when performing in West End musical Ghost.

She said it was a “full circle moment”, before paying tribute to The Holdovers lead star Paul Giamatti who she said, “makes me cry every time I look at him”.

She said the win was “a beautiful reminder” of how a story, “about a little family coming together”, has rippled around the world.

She also paid tribute to her Holdovers character, Mary, who she said would “never [have] got a chance to wear such a beautiful gown”, as her peach and black evening dress.

Her win seems likely to foreshadow a widely predicted best supporting actress win at the Oscars next month.

Hannah Waddingham performed during the In Memoriam section. Pic: AP
Image: Hannah Waddingham performed during the In Memoriam section. Pic: AP

In Memoriam

The ‘In Memoriam’ section of the show was accompanied by a moving rendition of Time After Time, sung by Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddingham.

Dressed in black, she paid tribute to the film industry greats we’ve lost over the past year.

The compilation of late screen stars included Harry Potter actor Michael Gambon and Creed movie veteran Carl Weathers.

‘Most of these films are frankly too long’

Hugh Grant channelled his inner Oompa Loompa to present the award for best director.

Hugh Grant presents the best director award. Pic: Joe Maher/BAFTA/Getty Images for BAFTA
Image: Hugh Grant presents the best director award. Pic: Joe Maher/BAFTA/Getty Images for BAFTA

Spoken to the rhythm of the songs the diminutive Roald Dahl characters are famous for, he intoned:

“Oompa Loompa diddly dee, and now the best director category.

“Oompa Loompa dumpity dong, most of these films were frankly too long.

“Oompa Loompa diddly da, but here for some reason the nominees are.”

And the prestigious prize was won by…

Christopher Nolan finally bags best director

Despite being Britain’s most successful film-maker, until tonight Christopher Nolan had never won a BAFTA for his directing.

Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan accepts his award at the BAFTAs. Pic: Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty
Image: Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan accepts his award at the BAFTAs. Pic: Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty

Accepting his award for atomic bomb epic Oppenheimer, he joked that his brother Jonathan, the co-creator of TV series Westworld, had beaten him to this success – not because he’d ever won a BAFTA – but because he was part of the “snowflake chorus in the Nutcracker on the Royal Festival Hall” stage many years ago.

He also paid tribute to his star Cillian Murphy and added to those who backed the film: “Thank you for taking on something dark.”

Samantha Morton

Taking the prestigious BAFTA Fellow prize, actress Samantha Morton said her win was “nothing short of a miracle”.

Samantha Morton holding her Fellowship Award. Pic: Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty Images for BAFTA
Image: Samantha Morton holding her Fellowship Award. Pic: Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty Images for BAFTA

The 46-year-old star told the audience: “When I first saw Ken Loach’s Kes on a huge telly that was wheeled into my classroom I was forever changed.

“Seeing poverty and people like me on the screen, I recognised myself – representation matters.”

She said she would tell her younger self: “You matter, don’t give up, the stories we tell, they have the power to change people’s lives.

“Film changed my life, it transformed me and it led me here today.”

She added: “I dedicate this award to every child in care, or who has been in care and who didn’t survive.”

Mia McKenna-Bruce accepts the EE Rising Star Award during the 2024 EE BAFTA Film Awards, held at the Royal Festival Hall on February 18, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty Images for BAFTA)
Image: Mia McKenna-Bruce accepts the EE rising star award during the ceremony. Pic: Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty Images for BAFTA

‘For my beautiful baby boy’

The BAFTA rising star award was won by Mia Mckenna-Bruce following a public vote.

The star of coming-of-age film How To Have Sex became emotional on stage as she thanked her family and her “beautiful baby boy”.

The 26-year-old joked that she hopes her little sisters, who do not think “I’m cool”, would change their mind after her win.

For my ‘Oppen-homies’

Accepting his prize, Irish actor Cillian Murphy thanked Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan, saying: “Thank you for your extraordinary exhilarating script and for pushing me and demanding excellence because that is what you deliver time and time again.”

Cillian Murphy accepts the leading actor award for Oppenheimer at the BAFTAs. Pic: Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty
Image: Cillian Murphy accepts the leading actor award for Oppenheimer at the BAFTAs. Pic: Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty

He said Oppenheimer was a “colossally knotty character”, adding: “We have a space to debate and interrogate and investigate that complexity and it’s a privilege to be a part of this community with you all.”

He also thanked his fellow nominees and what he dubbed his “Oppen-homies” during his speech.

‘Thanks to my mom’

Emma Stone thanked her vocal coach for helping her with her British accent, and not laughing at the way she said “water” as an American.

Emma Stone was named best actress for her performance in Poor Things. Pic: Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty Images
Image: Emma Stone was named best actress for her performance in Poor Things. Pic: Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty Images

She also paid tribute to writer Tony McNamara, as well as her mum, calling her “the best person in the world I know” adding, “she inspires me every day”.

Thanking her for all the things she’s done for her, she echoed her Frankenstein-inspired character in Poor Things, thanking her for giving her “life” – the ultimate gift.

A blast from the past with Marty McFly

Michael J Fox presented the biggest award of the night – best film.

Michael J Fox in Back To The Future 1985. Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock
Image: Michael J Fox in Back To The Future 1985. Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock

The Back To The Future star, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991, was helped onto the stage in a wheelchair but stood at the podium to introduce the winner.

The much-loved 62-year-old star was greeted with a standing ovation.

Fox told the audience: “There’s a reason why they say movies are magic, movies can not only change your day but can also change your life.”

He said it was “such a privilege” to hand out the prize, which went to Oppenheimer – the big winner of the evening.

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