Heading into the ceremony, Steven Spielberg’s much acclaimed biopic of Abraham Lincoln had led the pack with 10 nominations, while Ang Lee’s Life of Pi and Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables both trailed with nine, and Skyfall – Sam Mendes’ revamp of the Bond franchise – had eight.
Yet the frontrunner emerged from the awards – which took place in the Royal Opera House and were hosted by Stephen Fry – with just one gong: for Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance as the president.
In a typically restrained speech, the ultimate method actor, explained that he’d “actually stayed in character as myself for the past 55 years”.
Meanwhile the best actress prize went to Emmanuelle Riva, 85-year-old star of Michael Haneke’s Amour (which also took best foreign film), beating the much-fancied Jessica Chastain for her role in Zero Dark Thirty. Kathryn Bigelow’s drama about the killing of Osama bin Laden went home empty-handed, while the big awards went to another film dramatising recent events in the aftermath of terrorism.
The impetus, instead, was with Ben Affleck’s Argo, about the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, which won best picture and best director, as well as editing, meaning the momentum is with Affleck who is heading into the Oscars in a fortnight’s time (although the man himself is not up for best director).
But it was Tom Hooper’s crowd-pleasing musical adaptation that took home the most gongs: Les Misérables won for hair and makeup, production design, sound and best supporting actress. Skyfall snagged best British film and best score.
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