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Jim Carrey’s comments on “us vs. them” fearmongering went viral Friday night at the Britannia Awards, yet earlier during the ceremony, fellow honoree Cate Blanchett made her own convincing plea for universal empathy.
Accepting a trophy named after Stanley Kubrick, she said, “The unapologetic, elastic nature of his imagination I find so inspiring, particularly in these times of reductive simplicity and dangerously locked-down literalism.”
The two-time Oscar winner continued: “The black, the white, the blue, the red, it’s just like — oh, my God, when are you just going to get on with the fact that we’re all different, embrace that difference and just move forward? It’s so boring! We’ve got to acknowledge that we’re all fucked up, and we all need forgiveness. … Turn around and give the person beside you a hug,” which numerous members of the black-tie crowd in the Beverly Hilton proceeded to do.
Blanchett received the tribute from her Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull producer Kathleen Kennedy — “I really hope in the future that someone like me will be standing here receiving the Kathleen Kennedy Award,” said the actress — dedicated her win to their late colleague and friend, producer Allison Shearmur, who died of lung cancer in January. During an homage of taped congratulations, Julia Roberts said that watching Elizabeth made her realize that Blanchett was a “goddess.” “I love her, I want to be her,” Roberts confessed to the camera. “I would do anything with her.”
Presented by the non-profit, Los Angeles-based branch of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), the prizes have been bestowed most years since 1989. “It’s Britain’s biggest night out in America,” BAFTA-LA CEO Chantal Rickards told The Hollywood Reporter (one of the sponsors). While 20 percent of 7,500-plus members live and work in Tinseltown, the organization takes pride in recognizing far-flung talent. Three of the 2018 Britannia Award class hail from the U.K. (Emilia Clarke, Damien Lewis and Steve McQueen), while Blanchett is Australian, Carrey was born in Canada, and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige grew up in New Jersey.
The most stirring politics-free remarks of the evening came from Viola Davis, who presented her Widows director, McQueen, with the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Excellence in Directing. “He sees all the things in you that everyone else sees, that makes you ‘bankable,’ that makes you ‘the type,’” she said of her peer. “Then he sees all the things that you hide. The things that you sweep under the rug, that makes you sort of walk with your head bent, feeling not so pretty, feeling not so feminine, feeling not so nothing. And he coaxes all of those things out of you and he holds it up, as the most beautiful symbol of what it means to be a human being.”
Sharing their table were Davis’ castmates in the November release: Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez and Daniel Kaluuya. “These are the people that make my life whole, actors,” acknowledged McQueen in his speech. “The fact that they reflect humanity, that they come to work naked, vulnerable, and give up so much.”
Lewis’ award came from longtime friend and BAFTA recipient Matthew Macfadyen, and the Billions star spent his stage time impersonating Michael Caine; his wife, Helen McCrory; and the previous Britannia Award for Excellence in Television winner, Dick Van Dyke. Aside from echoing host Jack Whitehall’s quips about his “ginger” status, Lewis supplied self-deprecating memories from his “shaky beginnings” in the industry. “My first classes in screen acting were given to me by a man who directed radio,” he said, also recalling the confusion that awaited his first set trip (“The director came up to me and said, ‘Damien, now it’s time for your coverage.’ I thought, ‘What the fuck is coverage?’”).
Game of Thrones fan favorite Clarke referenced her own humble preludes to fame, “catering kids’ parties dressed as Snow White.” Her “heroes” — series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — introduced the actress. “Based on her audition tape, we were expecting someone extremely intense,” said Benioff. “She was relaxed, she was funny; when she laughed, her face transformed from that of a proper English person into an anime character. And that’s not an exaggeration: If you are ever talking to Emilia and she laughs, her eyebrows literally turn upside down.”
Jon Favreau — who directed the first two Iron Man films — praised Feige’s “uncanny eye he has for picking out those with underappreciated potential, and supporting them without compromise. … He’s got the Russos that they found on television, Taika [Waititi] from small comedies, and [attendee] Ryan Coogler, who he started off in independent film.”
The studio head picked the right room both to bolster traditional cinema in the streaming age (“Stories living and breathing on big screens was very powerful when I was a kid, and it still is today. A big, giant screen in a room full of people”) and defend Marvel’s post-credit scenes (“The real bonus is that the audience is going to sit there and look at all the names of the hundreds and thousands of people who worked so hard”).
Immediately following the BritBox-broadcasted gala, guests lingered at the hotel afterparty for band tunes, an ice cream sundae station and bidding on Lincoln Townley’s portraits of the VIP sextet.
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