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BAFTA Winners: Helen Mirren

Perhaps there's something I'm missing here, but the Orange British Academy of Film and Television Arts has decided that Kevin Macdonald's The Last King of Scotland is the outstanding British film of 2006, coming out ahead of United 93, Notes on a Scandal, Casino Royale, and Stephen Frears' The Queen. Yet, that very same Orange Academy has picked The Queen as the best film of the year, defeating Little Miss Sunshine, Babel, The Departed, and … The Last King of Scotland. Go figure.

There were few surprises at the 2007 Bafta ceremony held at London's Royal Opera House this evening, unless one considers a Helen Mirren victory in Britain a surprise. In her home country, Mirren has thus far trailed Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada, at the London Film Critics' Awards*), Kate Dickie (Red Road, at the British Independent Film Awards), and Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal, at the 2007 Evening Standard Film Awards).

Even so, just like at the upcoming Hollywood Academy Awards, Helen Mirren was the odds-on favorite to win the best actress Bafta – so much so, that bookies had stopped taking bets on her. “There's no chance of me winning this evening,” Judi Dench said before the ceremony. “I'm just here for the show. I'm a betting woman, so I'll put money on Helen.” (Apparently, one lone, brave bookie was still taking bets that evening.)

“It's pretty spectacular … I haven't been to the Bafta film awards much because I'm not usually invited,” Mirren remarked. “I've had TV Baftas but I think it's the first time I've been nominated for a film Bafta so it's fantastic to be here.” (Earlier this year, at the 2007 SAG Award ceremony in Los Angeles, Mirren had berated the British Academy for failing to nominate her TV special Elizabeth I.)

In her acceptance speech, Mirren dedicated her trophy to “her mentor” Ian Richardson, who died last week.

Ivana Baquero in Pan's Labyrinth
Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones in Pan's Labyrinth

Among the other top Bafta winners were best actor Forest Whitaker (who dedicated his award to his recently deceased grandmother) for his performance as deranged Uganda leader Idi Amin Dada (who'd have been right at home in today's world, where some sort of mental illness is a prerequisite for leadership positions); best director Paul Greengrass for United 93, about one of the four hijacked planes on Sept. 11, 2001; and best foreign-language film Pan's Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro's Mexican-Spanish dark fantasy about a young girl (Ivana Baquero) leading two lives – one above ground, in the Fascist Spain of the 1940s; the other underground, in a fantasy world of satyrs, monsters, and melting giant frogs.

Red Road director Andrea Arnold, upon accepting the Carl Foreman Award for a first-time British filmmaker, expressed her hope that “there is some money that comes with this award, which is great as my boiler's packed up.”

Veteran film editor Anne V. Coates, 81, whose illustrious career spans more than half a century, from Noel Langley's version of The Pickwick Papers in 1952 to the Jennifer Garner 2007 vehicle Catch and Release, received the Academy Fellowship, the British Film Academy's top honor. Among Coates' other credits are the Alec Guinness comedy The Horse's Mouth (1958), Ronald Neame's military drama Tunes of Glory (1960), David Lean's Academy Award-winning epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Sidney Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express (1974), David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980), Richard Attenborough's Chaplin (1992), and the Julia Roberts vehicle Erin Brockovich (2000).

Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncé Knowles in Dreamgirls
Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncé Knowles in Dreamgirls

In-between host Jonathan Ross' jokes about Mel Gibson (Ross remarked that several nominees looked “tenser than Mel Gibson in a synagogue”) and Scientology (“a good acceptance speech should be like a Scientologist's birth – no tears and as few words as possible”), other awards were presented to best supporting actor Alan Arkin, for his heroin-addicted but loving gramps in Little Miss Sunshine; to best supporting actress Jennifer Hudson, for playing one of the Supremes-like Dreamgirls; and to Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock, who received best adapted screenplay honors for The Last King of Scotland.

One surprise was the fact that Michael Arndt's cutesy comedy Little Miss Sunshine took the best original screenplay award – instead of Peter Morgan's much-admired script for The Queen, which revolves around a battle of wills between Queen Elizabeth II and prime minister Tony Blair following the death of Princess Diana.

Perhaps that happened because the British Academy was in a share-and-share-alike mood. Morgan, after all, had already co-won the best adapted screenplay award, so Orange Academy-ites may have figured it'd be a generous idea to give the other screenwriting trophy to somebody else.

Eva Green, Daniel Craig in Casino Royale
Eva Green, Daniel Craig in Casino Royale

In fact, no one film dominated the 2007 Baftas. Despite its nine nominations, Casino Royale won only one award (for best sound), in addition to a Rising Star trophy for Eva Green, while The Queen won only two of its ten nods. The two top winners of the evening turned out to be The Last King of Scotland and Pan's Labyrinth, each with a mere 3 wins. (In addition to its best foreign-language film award, Pan's Labyrinth received top honors for costume design and make-up/hair. It fared considerably better at the Spanish Academy's Goya Awards.)

The British Academy's “Everybody Wins!” approach also helps to explain the nonsense of having The Last King of Scotland as best British film and The Queen as best film, while having the best director award go to United 93.

Apparently, no one at the British Academy was bothered by the (contradictory) fact that the British-made “best film of 2006” wasn't the best British film, the best directed film, or the best written film of the year.

Addendum: The best British film is chosen by a jury panel, not by the general BAFTA membership. That helps to explain the best British film vs. best film contradiction.

* Helen Mirren did win as best British actress. She lost the best actress award to Streep.

Note: Three nominated short films, including best animation film Guy 101, are available for viewing through the British Academy's site.

Judi Dench and Helen Mirren quotes: The Scotsman

Jonathan Ross and Andrea Arnold quotes: Variety

Writers Guild Award winners

The populist Little Miss Sunshine and the absurd The Departed were given, respectively, best original screenplay (Michael Arndt) and best adapted screenplay trophies (William Monahan) at the Writers Guild of America (WGA) awards ceremony last night.

Amy Berg's screenplay for Deliver Us from Evil, about a pedophilic priest, received the WGA Award for best documentary screenplay.

Earlier that day, Little Miss Sunshine also won top original screenplay honors at the British Film Academy ceremony. At the WGA ceremony, Michael Arndt thanked his agent and producers for helping him to achieve “the screenwriters' dream of seeing their words up on the screen uncompromised and undiluted.”

Peter Morgan's considerably more deserving – though hardly flawless – The Queen has apparently been demoted to lady-in-waiting.

There have been some well-written films in 2006, but for the most part you won't find them in the lists of nominees/winners given out by critics, guilds, globers, and academies. However, you'll be able to find them in a few years, when I get around to compiling my own list of top pictures of 2006.

As an aside, I'm almost done with Budd Schulberg's excellent What Makes Sammy Run?, published in 1941. In the novel, a mix of satire and drama, Schulberg depicts the convoluted creation of the Writers Guild in the mid-1930s, during the height of the Depression. (More on Sammy in an upcoming post.)

The U.S. and (much of) the world economy may be in better shape now, but labor issues continue to flare up. As quoted in the Hollywood Reporter, WGA West president Patric Verrone “joked that he would not subject the crowd to long speeches about 'the guild's determination to work with our sister unions to preserve health and pension benefits.'”

The WGA's film and television contracts expire in October. A debilitating strike is a possibility — some say a probability — after that.

Michael Arndt quote: The Hollywood Reporter

The 2006Writers Guild of America Awards screen nominees were announced on Jan. 11, 2007. The television and radio nominees were announced on Dec. 13, 2006.

The 2006Writers Guild of America Awards winners were announced at ceremonies at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles on Feb. 11, 2007. 

FEATURES

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Babel, Written by Guillermo Arriaga, Paramount Vantage

* Little Miss Sunshine, Written by Michael Arndt, Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Queen, Written by Peter Morgan, Miramax Films

Stranger Than Fiction, Written by Zach Helm, Sony Pictures Entertainment

United 93, Written by Paul Greengrass, Universal Pictures

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, Dan Mazer, Story by Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynham, Anthony Hines, Todd Phillips, Based on a Character Created by Sacha Baron Cohen, Twentieth Century Fox

* The Departed, Screenplay by William Monahan, Based on the Motion Picture Infernal Affairs, Written by Alan Mak and Felix Chong, Warner Bros. Pictures

The Devil Wears Prada, Screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna, Based on the Novel by Lauren Weisberger, Twentieth Century Fox

Little Children, Screenplay by Todd Field, Tom Perrotta, Based on the Novel by Tom Perrotta, New Line Cinema

Thank You for Smoking, Screenplay by Jason Reitman, Based on the Novel by Christopher Buckley, Fox Searchlight Pictures

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY NOMINEES

* Deliver Us from Evil, Written by Amy Berg, Lionsgate

The Heart of the Game, Written By Ward Serrill, Miramax Films

Once In A Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos, Story by Mark Monroe and John Dower, Screenplay by Mark Monroe, Miramax Films

Who Killed the Electric Car? Written by Chris Paine, Sony Pictures Classics

Why We Fight, Written by Eugene Jarecki, Sony Pictures Classics

TELEVISION

DRAMATIC SERIES

24, Written by Robert Cochran, Manny Coto, Athan A. Demetrius, David Ehrman, David Fury, Howard Gordon, Evan Katz, Stephen Kronish, Michael Loceff, Matt Michnovetz, Steve Mitchell, Sam Montgomery, Nicole Ranadive, Joel Surnow, Craig W. Van Sickle; FOX

DEADWOOD, Written by W. Earl Brown, Regina Corrado, Alix Lambert, Ted Mann, Bernadette McNamara, David Milch, Kem Nunn, Nick Towne, Zack Whedon; HBO

GREY'S ANATOMY, Written by Debora Cahn, Zoanne A. Clack, Allan Heinberg, Elizabeth Klaviter, Kip Koenig, Stacy McKee, Carolina Paiz, James Parriott, Tony Phelan, Joan Rater, Shonda Rhimes, Blythe Robe, Mimi Schmir, Gabrielle Stanton, Krista Vernoff, Harry Werksman, Mark Wilding; ABC

LOST, Written by JJ Abrams, Monica Owusu-Breen, Carlton Cuse, Leonard Dick, Drew Goddard, Javier Grillo-Marxauch, Adam Horowitz, Dawn Lambertsen Kelly, Christina Kim, Edward Kitsis, Damon Lindelof, Steven Maeda, Jeff Pinkner, Matt Ragghianti, Elizabeth Sarnoff, Alison Schapker; ABC

* THE SOPRANOS, Written by Mitchell Burgess, David Chase, Diane Frolov, Robin Green, Andrew Schneider, Matthew Weiner, Terence Winter; HBO

COMEDY SERIES

30 ROCK, Written by Brett Baer, Jack Burditt, Kay Cannon, Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, Dave Finkel, Daisy Gardner, Donald Glover, Matt Hubbard, John Riggi; NBC

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, Written by Richard Day, Karey Dornetto, Jake Farrow, Mitchell Hurwitz, Sam Laybourne, Dean Lorey, Tom Saunders, Maria Semple, Chuck Tatham, Jim Vallely, Ron Weiner; FOX

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, Written by Larry David; HBO

ENTOURAGE, Written by Marc Abrams, Lisa Alden, Michael Benson, Brian Burns, Doug Ellin, Rob Weiss; HBO

* THE OFFICE, Written by Steve Carell, Jennifer Celotta, Greg Daniels, Lee Eisenberg, Brent Forrester, Ricky Gervais, Mindy Kaling, Paul Lieberstein, Stephen Merchant, B.J. Novak, Michael Schur, Gene Stupnitsky; NBC

NEW SERIES

30 ROCK, Written by Brett Baer, Jack Burditt, Kay Cannon, Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, Dave Finkel, Daisy Gardner, Donald Glover, Matt Hubbard, John Riggi; NBC

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, Written by Peter Berg, Bridget Carpenter, Kerry Ehrin, Carter Harris, Elizabeth Heldens, David Hudgins, Jason Katims, Patrick Massett, Andy Miller, Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, John Zinman; NBC

HEROES, Written by Jesse Alexander, Adam Armus, Natalie Chaidez, Aron Eli Coleite, Kay Foster, Bryan Fuller, Michael J. Green, Chuck Kim, Tim Kring, Jeph Loeb, Joe Pokaski; NBC

STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP, Written by Eli Attie, Christina Kiang Booth, Jessica Brickman, Dana Calvo, Mark Goffman, David Handelman, Cinque Henderson, Mark McKinney, Melissa Myers, Aaron Sorkin, Amy Turner; NBC

* UGLY BETTY, Written by Veronica Becker, Oliver Goldstick, Silvio Horta, Sarah Kucserka, Sheila Lawrence, Cameron Litvack, Myra Jo Martino, Jim Parriott, Marco Pennette, Dailyn Rodriguez, Don Todd; ABC

EPISODIC DRAMA — any length — one airing time

ELECTION DAY, PART II (The West Wing), Written by Eli Attie, John Wells; NBC

OCCUPATION/PRECIPICE (Battlestar Galactica), Written by Ronald D. Moore; Sci-Fi Channel

TWO FOR THE ROAD (Lost), Written by Elizabeth Sarnoff, Christina M. Kim; ABC

THE END OF THE WHOLE MESS(Nightmares, Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King), Teleplay by Lawrence D. Cohen, Based on the short story by Stephen King; TNT

PILOT (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip), Written by Aaron Sorkin; NBC

* PILOT (Big Love), Witten by Mark V. Olsen, Will Scheffer; HBO

EPISODIC COMEDY — any length — one airing time

IT TAKES TWO (Desperate Housewives), Written by Kevin Murphy, Jenna Bans; ABC

DON'T LOOK AT ME (Desperate Housewives), Written by Josh Senter; ABC

BOMB SHELTER (Malcolm in the Middle), Written by Rob Ulin; FOX

* CASINO NIGHT (The Office), Written by Steve Carell; NBC

THE COUP (The Office), Written by Paul Lieberstein; NBC

JUMP FOR JOY (My Name is Earl), Written by Vali Chandrasekaran; NBC

LONG FORM — ORIGINAL — over one hour — one or two parts, one or two airing times

BROKEN TRAIL, Written by Alan Geoffrion; AMC

* FLIGHT 93, Written by Nevin Schreiner; A&E

THE RON CLARK STORY, Written by Max Enscoe, Annie DeYoung; TNT

ANIMATION — any length — one airing time

* THE ITALIAN BOB (The Simpsons), Written by John Frink; FOX

WHO'S YOUR DADDY? (The Life and Times of Juniper Lee), Written by Marsha Griffin; Cartoon Network

CHURCH HOPPING (King of the Hill), Written by Jim Dauterive; FOX

KISS KISS BANG BANGALORE (The Simpsons), Written by Dan Castellaneta, Deb Lacusta; FOX

SIMPSONS CHRISTMAS STORIES (The Simpsons), Written by Don Payne; FOX

GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE SUMS (The Simpsons), Written by Matt Selman; FOX

COMEDY/VARIETY — MUSIC, AWARDS, TRIBUTES — SPECIALS — any length

* THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT, Written by Joan Meyerson; PBS

THE 60TH ANNUAL TONY AWARDS, Written by Dave Boone; CBS

ASSUME THE POSITION WITH MR. WUHL, Written by Robert Wuhl, Allan Stephen, Rebecca Reynolds; HBO

COMEDY/VARIETY — (Including Talk) SERIES

THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART, Head Writer D.J. Javerbaum, Writers Rachel Axler, Kevin Bleyer, Rich Blomquist, Steve Bodow, Tim Carvell, J.R. Havlan, Scott Jacobson, Ben Karlin, Rob Kutner, Sam Means, Chris Regan, Jason Reich, Jason Ross, Jon Stewart; Comedy Central

LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN, Writers Mike Sweeney, Chris Albers, Jose Arroyo, Andy Blitz, Dan Cronin, Kevin Dorff, Jon Glaser, Daniel J. Goor, Michael Gordon, Tim Harrod, Berkley Johnson, Brian Kiley, Michael Koman, Brian McCann, Guy Nicolucci, Conan O'Brien, Brian Stack, Andrew Weinberg; NBC

PENN, TELLER: BULLSHIT!, Written by Penn Jillette, Teller, Jon Hotchkiss, Michael Goudeau, Star Price, Cliff Schoenberg, Sheryl Zohn, Steve Melcher; Showtime

REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER, Writers Ross Abrash, Scott Carter, David Feldman, Matt Gunn, Brian Jacobsmeyer, Jay Jaroch, Chris Kelly, Bill Maher, Billy Martin, Danny Vermont; HBO

* SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, Head Writers Tina Fey, Seth Meyers, Andrew Steele, Writers Doug Abeles, James Anderson, Alex Baze, Liz Cackowski, Charlie Grandy, Steve Higgins, Colin Jost, Erik Kenward, John Lutz, Lorne Michaels, Matt Murray, Paula Pell, Akiva Schaffer, Frank Sebastiano, T. Sean Shannon, Robert Smigel, JB Smoove, Emily Spivey, Jorma Taccone, Bryan Tucker; NBC

DAYTIME SERIALS

ALL MY CHILDREN, Written by Megan McTavish, Addie Walsh, Victor Miller, Chip Hayes, Stephen Demorest, Michelle Patrick, Jeff Beldner, Bettina F. Bradbury, Karen Lewis, Rebecca Taylor, Amanda L. Beall, Marla Kanelos, Courtney Bugler; ABC

THE YOUNG, THE RESTLESS, Written by Lynn Marie Latham, Kay Alden, John F. Smith, Scott Hamner, Josh Griffith, Sally Sussman Morina, Sara Bibel, Paula Cwikly, Jim Houghton, Trent Jones, Natalie Minardi Slater, Lynsey Dufour, Janice Ferri Esser, Eric Freiwald, Marc Hertz, Bernard Lechowick, Joshua S. McCaffrey, Linda Schreiber, Sandra Weintraub, Sherman Magidson; CBS

* AS THE WORLD TURNS, Written by Jean Passanante, Leah Laiman, Christopher Whitesell, Courtney Simon, Anna Cascio, Lisa Connor, Paula Cwikly, Hogan Sheffer, Judy Tate, Bettina Bradbury, Richard Culliton, Susan Dansby, Judy Donato, Josh Griffith, Elizabeth Page, Melissa Salmons, Charlotte Gibson; CBS

GUIDING LIGHT, Written by David Kreizman, Donna Swajeski, Jill Lorie Hurst, Chris Dunn, Lloyd Gold, Dave Rupel, Charlotte Gibson, Rebecca Hanover, Tita Bell, David Smilow, Penelope Koechl, Royal Miller, Brett Staneart, Kimberly Hamilton, Mike Cohen; CBS

CHILDREN'S EPISODIC, SPECIALS

BROADCAST BLUES (Phil of the Future), Written by David Steven Cohen; Disney Channel

FUR BETTER OR WORSE (That's So Raven), Written by Deborah Swisher; Disney Channel

* PREMIERE (Just For Kicks), Written by Alana Sanko; Nickelodeon

SCRATCH (Flight 29 Down), Written by D.J. MacHale; Discovery Kids

SHOW WAY (Reading Rainbow), Written by Ronnie Krauss; PBS

DOCUMENTARY – CURRENT EVENTS

AGE OF AIDS: PART I, Written by William Cran, Renate Simone; PBS Frontline

CAN YOU AFFORD TO RETIRE?, Written by Hedrick Smith, Rick Young; PBS Frontline

* THE DARK SIDE, Written by Michael Kirk; PBS Frontline

THE METH EPIDEMIC, Written by Carl Byker; PBS Frontline

THE STORM, Written by Martin Smith; PBS Frontline

DOCUMENTARY – OTHER THAN CURRENT EVENTS

THE ALASKA PIPELINE (American Experience), Written by Mark Davis; PBS

THE BOY IN THE BUBBLE (American Experience), Written by Barak Goodman; PBS

EUGENE O'NEILL (American Experience), Written by Arthur Gelb, Barbara Gelb and Ric Burns; PBS

JOHN AND ABIGAIL ADAMS (American Experience), Written by Elizabeth Deane; PBS

* MARIE ANTOINETTE, Written by David Grubin; PBS

NEWS – REGULARLY SCHEDULED, BULLETIN OR BREAKING REPORT

HURRICANE KATRINA: ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY, Written by Paul Facey; CBS News

* REMEMBERING LOU RAWLS, Written by Jonathan Kaplan; CBS News

WORLD NEWS TONIGHT, Written by Joel Siegel, Julia Kathan, Elizabeth Vargas; ABC

NEWS – ANALYSIS, FEATURE, OR COMMENTARY

ADDICTED TO HEROIN (60 Minutes), Written by Leslie Cockburn; CBS

* CRISIS MISMANAGEMENT(America's Investigative Reports), Written by Tom M. Jennings; PBS

MEMORIAL DAY: ONE FAMILY REMEMBERS (Weekend Good Morning America), Written by Mary Pflum; ABC

RADIO NOMINEES

NEWS – REGULARLY SCHEDULED

WORLD NEWS THIS WEEK, Written by Marianne J. Pryor; ABC

* WORLD NEWS THIS WEEK, Written by Jeffrey Veatch; ABC

NEWS – ANALYSIS, FEATURE OR COMMENTARY

* AMERICA'S HEROES: TRIUMPH AND INSPIRATION, Written by Stu Chamberlain; ABC

ON MY SON'S DEPARTURE FROM HOME, Written by Jerry Edling; KNX

PASSAGES, Written by Gail Lee; CBS

PROMOTION WRITING AND GRAPHIC ART NOMINEES

ON-AIR PROMOTION (RADIO OR TELEVISION)

* A PLAYWRIGHT'S GENIUS, ENTER THE NEW WORLD, INSIDE LAW AND ORDER, MY GRANDMOTHER'S GARDEN,THE QUILL AWARDS: WRITE IT DOWN, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, Written by Michelle Straebler; WNBC

VERONICA MARS PROMOTION, Written by Eric Jacobson; UPN

TELEVISION GRAPHIC ART

COURTROOM SKETCHING, William J. Hennessy Jr.; ABC

TELEVISION GRAPHIC ANIMATION

SATURDAY EARLY SHOW, Monica DiNatale Eureyecko; CBS

LAUREL AWARD FOR SCREEN: Robert Benton

PADDY CHAYEFSKY LAUREL AWARD FOR TELEVISION: John Wells

VALENTINE DAVIES AWARD: Larry Gelbart


         
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