All Quiet on the Western Front Sweeps Baftas While Banshees Also Gets an Oscar Boost

Bafta’s 2023

The anti-war film scoops a record-breaking seven awards including best film and best director, while Irish black comedy The Banshees of Inisherin and the Elvis biopic take home four awards each

Sunday 19 February 2023 at 21:32 GMT

Revisionist German war drama All Quiet on the Western Front has won an impressive seven awards at the British Academy Film Awards in London, including best film and best director for Edward Berger.

The Netflix film, an adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel about an idealistic German soldier sent to the trenches, garnered a record 14 nominations last month, but few expected it to capitalize on so many of them would hit.

“Simply unbelievable,” said producer Malte Grunert happily about the award for the best film. He spoke about how history, about a generation “poisoned by right-wing propaganda into thinking war is an adventure,” speaks as much today as it did when the book was written or set.

Cinematographer James Friend, producer Malte Grunert and director Edward Berger. Photo: Ian West/PA

The film also received awards for Best Foreign Language Film, Cinematography, Adapted Screenplay, Original Score and Best Sound: an exceptional hit streak, making it the first foreign language film to win more than four Baftas (as Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden). Dragon, in 2001) and bodes well for the nine awards he is up for at next month’s Oscars.

Berger accepted his award for best director and urged audiences to remember the people of Ukraine ahead of the one-year anniversary of the start of the war with Russia.

The other big winner of the night was The Banshees of Inisherin, which also gained significant momentum in this year’s Oscar race.

Martin McDonagh’s black comedy about a dispute between friends in 1920s Ireland, played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, won Outstanding British Film, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Barry Keoghan and Best Supporting Actress for Kerry Condon.

Patrick Stewart presents Martin McDonagh with the award for Outstanding British Film winner for The Banshees of Inisherin. Photo Credit: Stuart Wilson/Bafta/Getty Images for Bafta

When McDonagh accepted the Outstanding British Film award, he attempted to explain his film’s unlikely qualification in the Outstanding British Film category: Film4 contributed substantial funds – and Rosie, the back-up donkey, hails from Stoke-on-Trent.

All Quiet deserves its Baftas triumph — and not just because of its terrible timeliness

Austin Butler was the surprise Lead Actor award winner for Elvis, one of four awards won by Baz Luhrmann’s biopic (the others were Casting, Costume and Make-up and Hair). Butler, who defeated nominees such as Farrell, Brendan Fraser and Bill Nighy, ended his speech with a tribute to the Presley family.

“I can’t thank you enough,” he said. “Your love and for showing me who Elvis really was. I hope I made you proud.”

Speaking backstage to reporters, Butler addressed the death of Lisa Marie Presley shortly after last month’s Golden Globes. “It is an unimaginably tragic time,” he said. “Grief is a long process”

Meanwhile, Cate Blanchett won Best Actress for her role as the imperious conductor in Todd Fields Tár, a film she described as “a very dangerous and potentially career-ending endeavor” on stage.

Blanchett thanked the family as “it took a tremendous amount away from you.” She singled out her “mother for holding the fort and my four extraordinary children” before ending her speech with a tribute to Field. “It’s wonderful,” she said, glancing at her award, but Tár “changed my life.”

Cate Blanchett with her prize for Tár. Photo Credit: Stuart Wilson/Bafta/Getty Images for Bafta

Speaking to reporters backstage, Cate Blanchett said she was “slightly overwhelmed” by her win. “It’s been such an extraordinary year for actresses. There were so many quirky, special performances that inspired me. To receive this is an extraordinary and very meaningful honor for me.

Blanchett added that the character of Lydia Tár “couldn’t be further removed” from her own experience, “but where I may have connected deeply with her circumstances – she’s more than a character, she’s a particular crisis – is that it is coming to an end, the end of a teaching cycle, an artistic cycle”. She compared that to her own experience of turning 50, adding that the only way out of the pandemic is to “make changes that you’ve wanted to make for a very long time.”

Meanwhile, Condon’s victory heralded an early moment of drama in the ceremony – a moment that was cut from the televised broadcast. Her award was presented by Troy Kotsur, winner of last year’s Supporting Actor Bafta for his role in Coda. Kotsur, who is deaf, signed the announcement, but this was misinterpreted by his interpreter as Carey Mulligan, who was nominated for her role in the little-seen Harvey Weinstein drama She Said.

Richard E Grant makes his entrance. Photo Credit: Kate Green/Bafta/Getty Images for Bafta

An audible gasp echoed through the Royal Festival Hall as Mulligan’s name was mentioned, as she was considered an underdog for the prize. About 10 seconds later, after Mulligan got up and made his way to the stage, the error was corrected.

That excitement meant the ceremony began with an unexpected echo of the climax of the 2017 Academy Awards, when Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty mistakenly awarded La La Land for Best Picture before eventually correcting it to Moonlight.

Otherwise, the 76th Baftas was a good-natured affair, conducted in breathless form by new host Richard E Grant. Gentle script made Grant’s own ambition and excitability the target of the joke while kneeling in front of everyone else in the room.

“Nobody under my supervision gets hit tonight,” he said, referring to Will Smith’s attack on host Chris Rock at the Oscars last March. “Well, just on your back.”

Grant was briefly stunned when introducing the in-memoryam portion of the show; In 2021 he lost his wife, dialect coach Joan Washington. Stars and filmmakers remembered that year included Hugh Hudson, Angela Lansbury, Raquel Welch, Jean-Luc Godard, Leslie Phillips, Ray Liotta, Anne Heche, Sylvia Syms and other Robbie Coltrane.

Charlotte Wells with her award for Aftersun. Photo Credit: Stuart Wilson/Bafta/Getty Images for Bafta

Such success for Berger and McDonagh’s films came at the expense of another Oscar front-runner: Everything Everywhere All at Once.

The zany multiverse comedy, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, received a single Best Editing award, while Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical drama The Fabelmans failed to earn the Original Screenplay award – the only category in which it was nominated by the Bafta .

Charlotte Wells, the young Scottish filmmaker whose film Aftersun topped many critics’ polls – including the Guardian’s – last year, had an outstanding debut. The film, in which Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio play father and daughter on vacation in Turkey in the late 1990s, was inspired by a similar journey she took with her own late father.

In her speech, Wells said the film was described as “kind of a eulogy to my father.” “By definition,” she continued, “he’s not here. But my mom is and always has been, so this is for her. Literally when I packed too much.”

Helen Mirren at the Baftas. Photo Credit: Stuart Wilson/Bafta/Getty Images for Bafta

Best Documentary went to Navalny, Daniel Roher’s 2020 film about the conspiracy to kill Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny by poisoning. The film features in-depth interviews with the recovering Navalny and follows investigative journalists Christo Grozev and Maria Pevchikh’s efforts to uncover the truth about Putin’s possible involvement.

Last week, Grozev tweeted that he and his family had been banned from attending the ceremony because he “posed a risk to public safety.” On stage, Roher said the world “must not be afraid to stand up against authoritarianism in all its forms.”

Backstage, Navalny producer Odessa Rae said: “We are deeply saddened. Christo was actually the introduction to this film for us, he led us to Alexei Navalny. He’s such an important part of this film.”

The Prince and Princess of Wales were present at the ceremony but did not speak on stage. Helen Mirren, who took on the title role in Stephen Frears’ 2006 film The Queen, presented an excerpt paying tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II, who served as President of the Bafta.

Mirren described her as “the leading lady in the world but as mysterious as a movie star”.


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