La La Land sweeps Baftas

Romance musical La La Land wins big at the Baftas. VIDEO: REUTERS
La La Land’s Emma Stone and Damien Chazelle with their best actress and best director trophies.
La La Land’s Emma Stone and Damien Chazelle with their best actress and best director trophies. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Musical La La Land won big at Britain's main film awards on Sunday as it scooped the prize for best film, while Emma Stone and Damien Chazelle won for best actress and best director respectively.

It won five gongs in total to keep its hot streak in the movie awards season going before the Oscars later this month, also picking up awards for cinematography and original music.

During the award ceremony, veiled references to controversial United States President Donald Trump were made. "In a time that's so divisive, I think it's really special that we were able to come together... to celebrate the positive gift of creativity and how it can transcend borders and how it can help people to feel a little less alone," Stone said in her acceptance speech.

La La Land, a dreamy tribute to the heyday of Hollywood musicals, had been nominated for 11 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) awards. It has a joint-record 14 nominations for the Academy Awards on Feb 26.

While Stone triumphed, co-star Ryan Gosling lost out in the best actor category to Casey Affleck, for his performance in family drama Manchester By The Sea. Gosling was absent, with the film's producers saying he had a family matter to attend to.

Manchester By The Sea picked up two awards in total, with Kenneth Lonergan winning for original screenplay.

La La Land’s Emma Stone and Damien Chazelle with their best actress and best director trophies. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A popular pick among the audience in the Royal Albert Hall, Londoner Dev Patel, 26, won best supporting actor for his performance in Lion, which charts the real-life story of an Indian boy adopted by an Australian couple. The film also won an award for best adapted screenplay.

Viola Davis took home the prize for best supporting actress for her performance in Fences, an adaption of a Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the life of a black family in 1950s Pennsylvania.

She alluded to race relations issues in the US in her acceptance speech and defended actress Meryl Streep, who was criticised by Mr Trump after the Golden Globes. "Anyone who labels Meryl Streep 'an overrated actress' obviously doesn't know anything about acting," she told reporters. "That's not even just directed towards Donald Trump, that's directed towards anyone."

Outspoken director Ken Loach turned his ire on British politicians as he accepted the outstanding British film award for I, Daniel Blake, an unflinching depiction of a man's struggles while on benefits. "The most vulnerable and poorest are treated by the government with a callous brutality that is disgraceful," he said.

However, some of the political interventions were more light-hearted. American director Mel Brooks, who wrote and directed The Producers, a 1968 comedy about the producers of a musical about Nazi Germany, made light of the current political situation.

"I'm not afraid of Trump, not at all," he told reporters, after he won an award for contribution to film, known as the Fellowship. "I think he's mostly an entertainer."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2017, with the headline 'La La Land sweeps Baftas'. Print Edition | Subscribe