On Saturday afternoon, right in the middle of the busiest weekend of the awards season, many of the biggest names of the awards season 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 — with various awards hopefuls, many of whom were nominated, little more than 24 hours earlier, for a BAFTA Award. (The 68th annual BAFTA Awards will take place on Feb. 21.)
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 include Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), in one of her first public appearances since revealing her pregnancy, as well as Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Dominic West (The Affair), Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey), Carmen Ejogo (Selma) and Jared Harris (The Boxtrolls).
The highest-profile MIA Brit: Knightley’s Imitation Game costar Benedict Cumberbatch, who I’m told had to be on set today but will fly in to town tomorrow just in time to attend the Globes.
Non-Brit contenders are welcome, too, which explains the presence of Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Miles Teller (Whiplash), Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, writer-director Richard Linklater and producer Jonathan Sehring (Boyhood), Rene Russo and writer-director Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), Anna Kendrick (Into the Woods), Jaeden Lieberher and director Ted Melfi (St. Vincent), screenwriter Jason Hall (American Sniper), songwriters Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois (Begin Again), director Morten Tyldum, composer Alexandre Desplat and film editor William Goldenberg (The Imitation Game), producer John Lesher (Birdman), screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (Big Eyes), producer Christine Vachon (Still Alice), Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) and Amy Landecker (Transparent).
Others in attendance included film editor Anne V. Coates and producer Jonathan Dana, who have votes for both the BAFTA Awards and the Academy Awards, plus Jamie Dornan, the star of the forthcoming 50 Shades of Grey, who does not have a vote with either group, but is British and did have plenty of admirers.