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The Britannia Awards offered a mix of raunch and reverence.
Held Friday evening at the Beverly Hilton, the annual event feting stars selected by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) celebrated six — Meryl Streep, Sam Mendes, Harrison Ford, Orlando Bloom, Amy Schumer and Late Late Show host James Corden — for excellence in their respective fields. The ballroom was packed with A-listers including J.J. Abrams, Steve Carell, Robert Downey Jr. and Bryan Cranston as well as execs like CBS’ Leslie Moonves, Disney’s Alan Horn and Showtime’s David Nevins. British comic Jack Whitehall served as the emcee of the show, which will air stateside on Pop — or rather, “the broadcast juggernaut that is Pop,” joked the host — on Nov. 6.
Streep kicked off the evening’s awards, taking the stage to receive the Stanley Kubrick award for excellence in film as the crowd rose to its feet. “I’m honored to receive an award that’s been given to a distinguished group of men and,” she paused, “men, for a century.” The suited actress added to big laughs in the ballroom: “I wore the right dress, didn’t I?” The remainder of her speech was largely devoted to thanking a laundry list of directors, for whom she’s worked over her 40-year career. At one point, Streep stopped herself, and cackled, “I can’t believe I’m reading my credits.”
Corden, who was introduced by pal Bryan Cranston, was awarded the Britannia Award for the British Artist of the Year. (Earlier in the evening, Whitehall noted how mad he was that the U.S. TV had stolen Corden away, joking that it had coincided with U.S. TV having given back Piers Morgan, who he described as “Britain’s answer to Donald Trump.”) “It’s humiliating how emotional I feel,” Corden said, before plugging the National Theatre for his early training, thanking his past and present bosses and trying to convince Harrison Ford from stage to come on his late night show later that week. He left his wife for last, telling the room, “She changed my life … and she’s so hot. There’s a camera on her, right? Look. She’s so beautiful. Thank God I’m funny.”
For his part, Mendes took a break from the Spectre press tour to accept the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for excellence in directing. He used the platform to offer 10 tips for young directors looking to take on a big action film as he did with the James Bond franchise. Among the tips: “You’re playing roulette with someone else’s money. If you’re going to bet it all on black, be able to explain why.” And “on the day, be prepared. But also be prepared to make shit up.”
Bloom took the stage to accept the Humanitarian Award for his work with UNICEF, but that was only after presenter Downey Jr. reminded the room of Bloom’s alleged showdown in Ibiza with Justin Bieber reportedly over Kendall Jenner. “I actually did not connect with Justin Bieber,” Bloom said with a big grin. “And I actually don’t know Kendall Jenner. Though if anyone’s got her number, I’d love it.” The jokes stopped there, however. Bloom used the rest of his time on stage to talk about the inspiring work UNICEF is doing around the world to better the lives of disadvantaged children.
Then came a decidedly raunchier Schumer, who promptly announced: “It’s really cool to follow Orlando’s UNICEF video with the work I’ve been doing.” The breakout comic’s time on stage to accept the Charlie Chaplin award for excellence in comedy took an R-rated turn almost immediately with a lengthy riff about anal sex. “We work so hard to look so pretty for men, but you guys are disgusting. You put the most sensitive part of your body where we shit,” she said to howls. “And we’re like, ‘Should I get French tips?’ No one cares! No one cares about your highlights.”
The final award of the evening went to Ford, who was awarded the Albert R. Broccoli Britannia award for worldwide contribution to entertainment. Abrams presented the honor, but it was a line from Steven Spielberg at the end of Ford’s tribute video that got the crowd excited. “I can’t wait to work with you again on Indiana Jones 5,” he said. “This is no announcement, it’s just my fervent hope.” Like Streep, the Star Wars icon received a standing ovation and capped the night with grizzled gravitas.
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