BAFTA Awards 2021: Rectifying Past Wrongs Done Right

After last year’s major faux pas, this year’s ceremony came up roses
Wednesday 14 April 2021
Photo: BAFTA

Just like other award shows that commenced this season, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards took place virtually. In a celebration of the resilience of the film industry during the pandemic, stars such as Hugh Grant, Tom Hiddleston and Priyanka Chopra Jonas appeared in person at the Royal Albert Hall to present the theatrical masks, while nominees attended the event from the comforts of their own home. 

This year’s event proved to be one for the books for the foundation, following last year’s #BAFTAsSoWhite scandal, where the ceremony failed to give recognition to a single non-white actor. It triggered the organisation’s groundbreaking diversity review, resulting in massive changes made within the prestigious institution (full list of changes here). And from the commotion came this year’s ceremony which saw more diversity in the list of nominees. 

Set to appear on the nights of the awards, BAFTA president Prince William withdrew his pre-recorded speeches for the event, following the death of Prince Phillip, the organisation’s first president. In a statement, BAFTA said: “We are deeply saddened by the death of His Royal Highness Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, whose close association with the academy spanned over 60 years.” 

After the brief tribute, the ceremony went straight in to the prizes. 

Chloé Zhao – Director – Nomadland


Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland obliterated the competition by taking home four awards, including Best Film and Cinematography. Its lead woman, Frances McDormand received Best Actress while Zhao took home her second Best Director win, the first being the Golden Globes. 

Receiving her accolade via Zoom, clad in a plaid flannel shirt and dungarees, Zhao shared her gratitude towards the community of real-life nomads who welcomed her and her crew. “Thank you for showing us that ageing is a beautiful part of life,” she said. 

Although Chadwick Boseman had won multiple Best Actor awards posthumously, this golden mask went to Anthony Hopkins for his role as Anthony in The Father. Based on a 2012 French play, the film follows an ageing man who must come to terms with his progressing memory loss. The film received won Best Adapted Screenplay as well, knocking out films such as The White Tiger and The Mauritanian, both based on books. 

Yuh-Jung Youn – Supporting Actress – Minari


Both films had equal stakes in the titles for Best Supporting Roles, and they split the difference when Daniel Kaluuya took the win for his character Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, while Youn Yuh-jung for Soon-ja in Minari

Bukky Bakray may have lost her in her claim for Best Lead Actress, but persevered when she was announced as this year’s recipient of the prestigious EE Rising Star Award. 

Promising Young Woman, a black comedy thriller starring the well-decorated Carrey Mulligan scored in the Best Original Screenplay category, taking out titles like Mank and The Trial of the Chicago 7, both of which received much critical acclaim. 

Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed, Craig Foster – Documentary – My Octopus Teacher


Part of our Binge Watch List: Documentary recommendations, My Octopus Teacher scored its umpteenth award in the Best Documentary category.