Awards Season | The Baftas – A night of surprises!

Vanessa Redgrave - awarded the Bafta fellowship

Last night’s Baftas delivered a big shock, didn’t they? No, not Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker triumphing over James Cameron’s Avatar. I mean Vanessa Redgrave curtseying to Prince William!

Who would have thought that lefty firebrand Vanessa would be so deferential? Vanessa, not just a lifelong Trotskyist but a card-carrying member of hardcore nutters the Workers’ Revolutionary Party; the woman who denounced “Zionist hoodlums” when she won her Oscar for Julia: what was she doing bobbing before a member of the royal family?

Was she being ironic? That curtsey was certainly theatrical.

Was there a glint of mischief in her eyes when she praised Prince Charles’s “intelligence, humility and kindness” when William, the new Bafta president, presented her with the evening’s final award, the Bafta fellowship?

I’m probably projecting. Everything about her moving acceptance speech, made less than a year after the tragic death of her daughter, Natasha Richardson, radiated sincere and deep emotion.

Kathryn Bigelow - winner of Bafta Best Director award

Redgrave’s award and speech capped an impressive evening. And, yes, Hurt Locker’s trouncing of Avatar – six awards to Avatar’s two – was a surprise. And very heartening, too. As much as I enjoyed Avatar as a spectacle, it was great to see the Bafta voters not roll over in the face of the Hollywood juggernaut but instead reward an intelligent, grown-up movie.

Elsewhere, last night’s major awards were fairly predictable – wins for home players Colin Firth (A Single Man) and Carey Mulligan (An Education) for Best Actor and Actress; and wins for the much-fancied Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) and Mo’Nique (Precious) in the supporting categories.

I expect those latter two awards to go the same way at the Oscars. As for the other big gongs, I think this could be the year when the Baftas and the Oscars diverge.

Read the full list of winners at the 2010 Orange British Film Academy Awards.

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