By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 21, 2010 at 11:41AM
This weekend's key awards events--the Writers Guild (WGA) and British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTAs) awards--did much to advance the inevitable march toward multiple Oscar wins for The Hurt Locker, which won original screenplay at both shows, and a total of six BAFTAs, including cinematography (Barry Ackroyd is a Brit), editing, sound, director and best picture. When the DGA, WGA and Editors Guild all give awards to the same film, reports Awards Daily, it wins best picture 100% of time. This time in her acceptance speech, Bigelow, the first woman to win a BAFTA for directing, made a call for "finding a resolution for peace."
I actually think that on Oscar night, while Up in the Air's Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner should win adapted screenplay again--as they did at the WGA and BAFTAs--the Academy voters could throw their votes toward the non-WGA eligible screenplay for Inglourious Basterds. Quentin Tarantino is popular, and while The Hurt Locker looks good to win best picture and director, Boal is a relative newcomer.
On the acting side, the British awarded two of their own: Colin Firth, the Brit equivalent of Jeff Bridges, the respected actor who is long overdue for awards recognition, won leading actor for A Single Man. And at long last after losing at the Globes and SAG, rising star Carey Mulligan collected leading actress for her charming breakout role in An Education. (Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock will be duking it out for the best actress Oscar.)
Hard-working Harvey Weinstein and Quentin Tarantino had to settle for one Inglourious Basterds prize, for Christoph Waltz, who delivered yet another "supportive" speech as he heads toward his likely Oscar win. Predictably, Precious star Mo'Nique won supporting actress without making the schlep across the pond. Director Lee Daniels squandered an opportunity to win over some more folks by perfunctorily accepting her prize. She will presumably accept her own statuette on Oscar night.
James Cameron's Avatar did not go home empty-handed from London's opulent Royal Opera House, winning production design and visual effects, which should repeat Oscar night (plus a few other technical awards). New Disney chief Rich Ross was on hand to applaud wins for Disney/Pixar's Up for animated feature and score. Both should also repeat on Oscar night. Jacques Audiard's A Prophet won best foreign-language film, interrupting the winning streak of cerebral black-and white German Oscar-entry The White Ribbon, which still has to be considered the Oscar front-runner.
On the Brit side, Duncan Jones was moved to tears by winning a BAFTA for outstanding debut for Moon, a remarkable micro-budget outer-space drama inspired by 2001, starring Sam Rockwell. "I think I've found what I love doing," Jones said. Later, he tweeted: "Wow... what a night... I've ad such a crazy time. met Mr. Cameron, Mr.Tarantino, Mr.Gilliam and many more.... Hoorah!" His many Twitter fans sent congrats.
Young Victoria collected two wins, for hair and makeup and costume. The movie is the front-runner in both Oscar categories, too. Twilight was a big presence at the event: presenter and local-boy-made-good Rob Pattinson sent the red carpet into a frenzy, while Kristen Stewart won the Orange Rising Star award, which is voted on by the public. Looking swell in a form-fitting sparkling white gown, Stewart duly thanked her Twilight fans as "the most attentive ever." Another Twilight star, Up in the Air presenter Anna Kendrick sat with boyfriend, her Scott Pilgrim vs. the World director Edgar Wright.
Vanessa Redgrave did not mention her late daughter Natasha Richardson as she accepted BAFTA's highest honor, the Academy Fellowship. She curtsied to presenter, BAFTA's new president, HRH Prince William, and thanked family friend Uma Thurman, who did a lovely presenting speech. "Oh dear, I'm afraid you've done me in," Redgrave said. She cited the words of opera singer Maria Callas as her inspiration: "You have to put the feeling and truth of your thoughts first, and the sound of your voice will follow."
At the WGA awards Saturday night, host Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy (who went up against Sarah Palin and won this week) opened up with the classic line: "writers only have themselves to thank." He did a pitch-perfect writers' version of "Trouble" from Music Man, complete with back-up chorus ("trouble, trouble...") "Next thing you know your show is up against American Idol every night," he crooned, "with a capital t and that rhymes with c and that stands for crap."
Later he said, "even Charlie Sheen can't go batshit nuts and threaten his wife without a writer." He wound up with: "without a script this town would fall off the fucking map," to rousing applause.
The WGA documentary screenplay went to Mark Monroe of The Cove, which keeps on winning. "The film has the real courage of its convictions," Monroe said, "and that's to be admired." Accepting his screenplay prize, Boal thanked the soldiers in Baghdad he was embedded with and Bigelow for believing in an unpopular project about an unpopular war. Adapted script-winner Reitman said, "I'm proud to be a writer," adding, "I'm a writer always, even when directing."
Chris Rock, Jason Alexander, Billy Crystal and Larry David also scored with Hyatt Regency crowd, by being 1) angry 2) funny and 3) strong performers.
When presenting a Laurel screenwriting prize to Barry Levinson, Crystal asked: "Would it have hurt to write one thing for me?" Levinson thanked director Mel Brooks for letting his writers follow along throughout the filmmaking process.
David thanked the WGA for the Paddy Chayefsky award, saying: "I'd like to say to Paddy Chayefsky I am really really sorry, I had nothing to do with this. I hate writing. All kinds of writing. Any expressions of sympathy. And of course this speech." Early on in New York, David would check out possible spots to live in case he became homeless. He wound up by saying that in his experience, usually something good is followed by something terrible. "Thanks for the death threat!"
Here's Firth's great acceptance speech:
Here's my interview with best director Kathryn Bigelow.
Here are my interviews with leading actress Carey Mulligan and directors Lone Scherfig and Andrea Arnold.
Here's my interview with adapted screenplay winner Jason Reitman.
Here's my interview with VFX winner Joe Letteri.