Musical La La Land sweeps the British Academy Film Awards

Actress Emma Stone and director Damien Chazelle pose with the awards for Best Leading Actress and Best Director, respectively, for the film La La Land at the British Film Awards at the Royal Albert Hall on Feb 12, 2017.
Actress Emma Stone and director Damien Chazelle pose with the awards for Best Leading Actress and Best Director, respectively, for the film La La Land at the British Film Awards at the Royal Albert Hall on Feb 12, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Musical La La Land won big at Britain's main film awards last 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.

Amid the awards there were also veiled references to controversial United States President Donald Trump. "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. Its success follows on from the Golden Globes, where it picked up seven awards.It has a joint-record 14 nominations for the Academy Awards on Feb 26.

Justin Hurwitz, who won the award for the film's music, said he hoped the success of the film might prompt a renaissance in the genre. "I love to go the theatre and see musicals. So if this can help any more musicals get green-lit, that would be amazing," he told Reuters ahead of the ceremony.

 

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.

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 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."