The Baftas

2013 Baftas

The Baftas- award ceremonies in general actually-or The Stephen Fry show as he likes to think of it are usually one long snoozefest consisting of fatuous celebrities making insincere, tearful acceptance speeches which far outstrip any performances that have given on the screen and often bettering the one they are picking up the award for. Last nights ceremony however although I did fall asleep during its duration-less to do with the results than the fact I was spotted at 6.30am the previous morning leaving a city centre hotel after a night of partying- was something of a pleasant surprise as the winners were announced I paten found myself nodding in agreement instead of my usual harrumphing in disgust.  Leaving aside Les Miserables- please do- which still makes my blood curdle at the very thought but looking to Amour, Argo, Skyfall, Searching for Sugarman, The Imposter, Django Unchained  and Silver Linings Paybook it was almost as if the judges had had an untypical lapse into good taste.

It was especially rewarding to see Christoph Waltz be awarded best supporting actor for Django Unchained but biggest surprise was Emmanuelle Riva walk off with the best actress award for the bleak, uncompromising but truly outstanding Amour.  That this film also took best foreign film proves that it is a work of class and distinction and its sensitive treatment of a subject- Riva plays a retired music teacher who suffers a stroke and the subsequent effects this has on her and her husbands life is phenomenal as his loyalty and love is fully put to the test- that many would shy away from is brave and true to life. It is as far from a feelgood film as you could imagine but you do leave the cinema having been emotionally touched and empathetic.

Conversely Searching For Sugarman is a feelgood film-it even melted my ice cold heart- but as it has the advantage of being a true story and its central character is such an unassuming and genuine character this takes it to a level far beyond the contrived lachrymose, sentimental slop we are usually served up by scriptwriters, producers and directors playing on our emotions with cheap tactics and swelling musical scores. It was therefore pleasing to hear its name being announced as the best documentary film.

With The Imposter’s creators picking up the award for best outstanding debut it was obviously a year for true to life stories- another true tale which is quite unbelievable as a missing American child is apparently found but turns out to be a foreigner five years older but still accepted by a family who seem unable to spot the difference- and Hollywood scriptwriters must be picking their brains on frustration as they try to outdo these lurid and quite unbelievable dramas. Perhaps life has started to imitate art and we are now all subconsciously living our lives as movie scripts. I have often wondered who is writing my role for me as I seem to slip further and further into some bad B- movie!

Much is made of such award ceremonies but inevitably they are just self congratulatory events for an industry whose participants need more validation than most. The fake emotions on show merely confirm this. Similarly they are mooted as some fashion and style highpoint but this has never sat comfortably with me as the dress code is ostentatious glamour for the women and standard black tie fare for the men. I cannot see how this can influence anything apart from other award ceremony attendees or future events and as this takes up a minimal percentage of our population its influence must be very limited, unless you want to look like an extra on the set of TOWIE that is.

Generally seen as a dry run for the even more prestigious Oscars the signs for that ceremony bode well but I cannot see the Americans awarding a French actress their hallowed best actress award- they still haven’t totally forgiven the French for the lack of support in the war – and it will more likely go to one of their home-grown stars. Being a celebration, essentially, of their own movie industry this is perhaps inevitable even if it is not always the right choice.

Fortunately such ceremonies do not always inform my choices when visiting the cinema-The Hunt, Untouchables Bill Cunningham New York, Martha Marcy May Marlene  and Carnage  were all notable omissions- at least this year I don’t feel they got it too wrong and quite often they were spot on. Apart from Les Miserables. Obviously!

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