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<I>Rings</I> Shines Bright at BAFA's; <I>Rouge</I> In the Pink Too

25 Feb, 2002 By: Ray Bennett

LONDON -- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was the big winner at the Orange British Academy Film Awards on Sunday night, picking up four wins, including best film and best director for Peter Jackson. The other two awards -- from 11 nominations -- were for special visual effects and for makeup and hair.

Moulin Rouge, which also had 11 noms, ended up with three wins, for Jim Broadbent for performance by an actor in a supporting role, best sound and the Anthony Asquith Award for achievement in film music for Craig Armstrong and Marius de Vries.

Russell Crowe, for A Beautiful Mind, and Judi Dench, for Iris, won the leading actor and actress BAFAs, while Jennifer Connelly won best performance by an actress in a supporting role for A Beautiful Mind.

Gosford Park won the Alexander Korda Award for outstanding British film of the year and picked up the award for costume design.

In the biggest surprise of the evening, Amores Perros — dubbed "a Mexican 'Pulp Fiction' " - won the prize for best film not in the English language. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's gritty drama beat France's heavily favored Oscar contender, Amelie, which won for original screenplay and production design.

The rest of the awards were spread out among several candidates. The animated Shrek won for adapted screenplay, The Man Who Wasn't There won for Roger Deakins' cinematography, and Mulholland Drive won for Mary Sweeney's editing.

New Zealand director Jackson, who said he is proud to be a Kiwi, was clearly surprised by the success of the first of a planned Rings trilogy. Thanking "everyone who worked on the picture," Jackson said, "This is the definition of a film you couldn't do by yourself." He said he was flying back to New Zealand on Monday to continue editing the second feature.

Crowe, last year's Oscar winner for Gladiator, who lost the BAFA 2001 prize to teenager Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot), said: "I couldn't have second-guessed this (winning) at all. I didn't mind Jamie winning last year because that was a unique and very special performance."

Crowe, who said he was flying to Australia on Monday for the opening of A Beautiful Mind, broke the news that his co-star in that film, Paul Bettany, has signed to join him in his next film, Far Side of the World.

Receiving her award from Dustin Hoffman, Oscar nominee Dench said that she and her co-stars have been amply rewarded for their contributions to Iris and said she wished to pay tribute to the film's writers, Richard Eyre and Charles Wood.

Altman said that shooting Gosford Park in England has been the best experience of his career. Asked backstage whether his Oscar chances have run through his mind, he replied: "It's passed through my mind, but to keep it there would be silly. Most people can't remember two days later who won."

Connelly, who received the supporting actress prize from Don Cheadle, said, "I'm really shocked." She was up against four British actresses in the category — Dench, Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet. "The women in this category are truly extraordinary, and I am very much honored," she said.

Broadbent, receiving his supporting actor prize from Toni Collette, called Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann a visionary genius. "The whole world would have been a duller place without his Moulin Rouge, " Broadbent said.

Backstage, Broadbent said he believed that having three well-received films (Iris, Moulin Rouge, and Bridget Jones's Diary) out at the same time helped him win the award. "They were chalk, cheese and butterflies, but I think I got this partly because they were so varied," he said.

Mexican director-producer Inarritu appeared genuinely overjoyed when actor Kevin Spacey handed him the foreign language film award. "You don't expect a film like this to win," he said.

Backstage, the exuberant filmmaker, who studied film in Britain, assured everyone that the dogfights in his movie had been faked.

Warren Beatty accepted a British Academy of Film and Television Arts fellowship in recognition of an outstanding contribution to world cinema from actor Ian McKellen. It was the last prize of the evening, and as the show was running late, Beatty kept his remarks brief. Following a standing ovation, he said, "I can free-associate into eternity if you're not careful." He settled for thanking the British film industry. "So much of what I know, I've learned from you," he said.

In 007 star Pierce Brosnan's absence, Dench, who plays the character M in the Bond films, presented a special award to Eon Prods. for 40 years of the secret-agent films. Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson accepted the honor.

Oscar-winning director Richard Attenborough -- announced as the new BAFTA president during the ceremony, after Princess Anne stepped down -- presented a special prize to stunt coordinator and assistant director Vic Armstrong.

Helena Bonham Carter and Vanessa Redgrave presented a second fellowship to the principals of Merchant Ivory — director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant and writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala — whose films over 40 years have included A Room With a View, The Remains of the Day and Howard's End.

Jhabvala appeared to sum up their mutual feelings: "The films have been OK, but thanks for 40 years of unbroken friendship."

Writer-director Joel Hopkins and producer Nicola Usborne received the Carl Foreman Award for newcomers for their first feature film, "Jump Tomorrow." Usborne thanked FilmFour for making it possible.

The show, hosted by writer-actor Stephen Fry with his usual debonair wit, ran slightly more than two hours, 10 minutes and aired almost immediately at 8 p.m. on BBC.

BAFTA chairman Simon Relph said the show had been sold to many markets overseas, including the United States, where it will be seen on E! Entertainment, and could have an ultimate audience of 1 billion.

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