January 11, 2014 5:23pm PT by Scott Feinberg
Brits Welcome Contenders of All Nationalities at BAFTA Tea
On Saturday afternoon, right in the middle of the busiest weekend of the awards season, many of the entertainment industry's -- and awards season's -- biggest names swung by the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills for a walk down a long red carpet into a room crowded with industry insiders, whereupon they mixed, mingled, munched on finger sandwiches and, of course, downed gallons of tea.
The BAFTA Tea, as the annual affair is known, is what one might call civilized chaos, as everyone tries to grab a moment or two of face time -- if not a photograph, as well -- with various awards hopefuls, a number of whom are in town primarily to attend tomorrow night's Golden Globe Awards ceremony as nominees.
Many of this year's top contenders, as in most, are from the U.K. or hail from British commonwealth nations (i.e. Canada, Australia, India and South Africa), and those who attended the event included directors Stephen Frears (Philomena), Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips) and Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), actors Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock); Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) and Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine); producer David Heyman (Gravity); composers Henry Jackman (Captain Phillips) and Steven Price (Gravity); and actor-writer Steve Coogan (Philomena). Also present: Philomena's inspiration, Philomena Lee!
Non-Brit contenders are welcome, too, which explains the presence of directors Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) and Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street); actors Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Daniel Bruhl (Rush), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Monica Potter (Parenthood); producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa (Nebraska), Dana Brunetti (Captain Phillips and House of Cards) and Frank Marshall (The Armstrong Lie and The Wind Rises); documentarian Alex Gibney (The Armstrong Lie); composer Alexandre Desplat (Philomena); and writer/showrunner Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey).
Others in attendance included actors Jacqueline Bisset, Joan Collins and Christoph Waltz plus producer Jonathan Dana -- some of whom are BAFTA members with votes for the BAFTA Awards. BAFTA announced its nominees on Tuesday and Dana, one of the more diligent members of both the Academy and BAFTA, told me that he screened three of them today before heading over to the lunch in order to make sure that he is fully caught up in time for the voting deadline (voting takes place online) and the ceremony itself (which takes place in London) on Feb. 16.
He, as much as anyone, was entitled to a cucumber finger sandwich and a cup of chamomile!