'1917' wins big at Baftas to take pole position for Oscars

London - Sweeping World War I odyssey 1917 won big at Sunday's Bafta awards, landing the best film prize and best director trophy for Sam Mendes, and putting it in line for potential Oscars glory next weekend.

The movie, which follows two British soldiers on a perilous mission across no man's land, had already scooped the Golden Globe for best drama, and has 10 Academy Award nominations including for best picture.

Hailed as a groundbreaking piece of cinema, it scooped seven of the nine prizes it was nominated for at Britain's top film awards, including in cinematography, production design, sound and special visual effects.

"It's moving for me to get this in my hometown for the first time," said Mendes, the first British winner of the best director Bafta since Danny Boyle prevailed in 2009 for Slumdog Millionaire.

"Thank you to all the people who have gone to see this in the cinemas," he told the star-studded ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

At this year's Baftas, the same five movies filled the best film and best director nominations.

Joining 1917 and Mendes were Joker (Todd Phillips), South Korean comedy thriller Parasite (Bong Joon-ho), The Irishman (Martin Scorsese), and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino.

The evening proved particularly anti-climatic for the latter two: Tarantino's comedy-drama won just one award - Brad Pitt, for best supporting actor - while Scorcese's crime flick finished empty-handed.

But the evening was perhaps equally disappointing for hit film Joker, which led the way with 11 nominations but ended up with just three prizes, including Joaquin Phoenix for best actor.

He beat Hollywood heavyweight Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) as well as Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Taron Egerton (Rocketman) and Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes).

'VERY HUMBLING'

Renée Zellweger claimed the best actress award for her portrayal of Judy Garland's late-life comeback tour in Judy, marking a stunning renaissance for her own wide-ranging career.

She saw off stiff competition from a talented field boasting Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) and Charlize Theron (Bombshell).

"This is very humbling," she told the audience of Hollywood royalty.

"Miss Garland, London town, which you have always loved so much, still loves you back. This is for you."

Renée Zellweger at the Baftas.

(GET HAPPY! Renée Zellweger won the Bafta for Best Actress. Photo: Getty Images)

Meanwhile Laura Dern won the best supporting actress gong for Netflix's divorce tearjerker film Marriage Story.

She beat out her co-star Scarlett Johansson, for her role in Jojo Rabbit, as well as Florence Pugh (Little Women) and twice-nominated Margot Robbie (Bombshell and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood).

DIVERSITY CRITICISM

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts, in its 73rd annual movie awards, are often seen as indicative of which way the Oscars might go in Los Angeles, this year on 9 February .

This year's Baftas have faced some criticism for lacking ethnic diversity among the acting categories' nominees, all 18 of whom were white.

Phoenix took aim at "systemic racism" and "oppression" within the industry in his acceptance speech.

"I think that we send a very clear message to people of colour that you're not welcome here," he added.

WATCH HIS SPEECH HERE:

The British academy said it would review its voting system in time for next year's awards.

The winners and nominees in most categories are voted for by the 6 500 members, who are industry professionals and creatives from around the world.

In previous years, senior Bafta figures said the awards could only reflect the cinema industry's output.

"It's infuriating. We can't make the industry do something; all we can do is encourage," said Bafta film committee chairman Marc Samuelson.

KENNEDY, SERKIS HONOURED

The ceremony was hosted by TV chat show presenter Graham Norton, with Prince William and his wife Kate adding some royal glamour in his 10th year as Bafta president.

The prince presented the Academy Fellowship, its highest accolade, to American producer Kathleen Kennedy, the boss of Lucasfilm, and behind some of the biggest-grossing movies ever.

Prince William and Kate Middleton attend the Bafta

(A ROYAL APPEARANCE: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the Baftas. Photo: Getty Images)

They include the Star Wars sequels, Jurassic Park, E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial and the Back to the Future trilogy.

Meanwhile, British actor Andy Serkis received the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award for his pioneering motion-capture acting for computer-generated characters.

The 55-year-old's roles include Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot, the titular gorilla in King Kong and Supreme Leader Snoke in two Star Wars sequels.

SEE THE FULL LIST OF WINNERS HERE:

Best Film

1917

Leading Actress

Renée Zellweger - Judy

Leading Actor

Joaquin Phoenix - Joker

Director

Sam Mendes - 1917

Outstanding British Film

1917

Outstanding debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer

Mark Jenkin (Writer/Director), Kate Byers, Linn Waite (Producers) - Bait

Film not in the English Language

Bong Joon Ho - Parasite

Documentary

Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts - For Sama

Animated Film

Sergio Pablos, Jinko Gotoh - Klaus

Original Screenplay

Han Jin Won, Bong Joon Ho - Parasite

Adapted Screenplay

Taika Waititi - Jojo Rabbit

Supporting Actress

Laura Dern - Marriage Story

Supporting Actor

Brad Pitt - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Original Score

Joker

Casting

Shayna Markowitz - Joker

Cinematography

Roger Deakins - 1917

Editing

Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker - Ford v Ferrari (Le Mans '66)

Production Design

Dennis Gassner, Lee Sandales - 1917

Costume Design

Jacqueline Durran – Little Women

Make Up & Hair

Vivian Baker, Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan - Bombshell

Sound

Scott Millan, Oliver Tarney, Rachael Tate, Mark Taylor, Stuart Wilson - 1917

Special Visual Effects

Greg Butler, Guillaume Rocheron, Dominic Tuohy - 1917

British Short Animation

Maryam Mohajer – Grandad Was a Romantic

British Short Film

Carol Dysinger, Elena Andreicheva – Learning to Skateboard in A Warzone (If You're A Girl)

Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema

Andy Serkis

EE Rising Star Award

Micheal Ward

EE Rising Star Michael Ward at the Baftas.

(A RISING STAR: Michael Ward winner of the EE Rising Star award. Photo: Getty Images)

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