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Six people, including two 2016 awards hopefuls, were honored Friday night at the 25th BAFTA-LA Britannia Awards.
During a non-televised ceremony at the Beverly Hilton that was emceed by British comedian and rapper Doc Brown and, as always, recognized Brits and non-Brits alike, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk director Ang Lee was presented with the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Excellence in Directing and American Pastoral helmer and star Ewan McGregor was presented with the BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Humanitarian Award.
Also honored: Felicity Jones, the Oscar-nominated actress who soon will be seen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with the Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year; Samuel L. Jackson, the Oscar-nominated actor who soon will be seen in Kong: Skull Island, with the Albert R. Broccoli Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution to Entertainment; Jodie Foster, the child actor turned grown-up star and director, with the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film; and Ricky Gervais, returning to the same ballroom in which he has hosted many a Golden Globe ceremony, with the Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy.
Foster was the first up, and was presented with her award by Jennifer Lawrence, who reminded the audience that at age 19 she was directed by Foster in “wait for it, The Beaver.” Foster, accompanied by her wife Alexandra Hedison and two sons, thanked “this community that raised me,” and closed her marks with an assurance that she’s “not done yet.”
Lee was then introduced by Jake Gyllenhaal, one of the stars of the 2005 classic Brokeback Mountain. Said the actor, “I can’t help but think about Heath [Ledger, the film’s other star, who died in 2008] and all the change [that’s happened since its release]. He would be proud to know that he had played some small part in it.” Gyllenhaal then cracked that Lee’s first English-language film, 1995’s Sense and Sensibility, “is one of the most British movies ever, which is extraordinary when you remember that Ang grew up in Taiwan.” Lee, for his part, said that Brokeback Mountain “brought me back to life” and was “the one time I had a strong sense there is a movie god and he loves me.”
McGregor’s honor, in recognition of his service to UNICEF and work in Syria and Iraq, was presented by his co-star in the forthcoming Beauty and the Beast remake, Gugu Mbatha-Raw. “This really goes not to me, but to the people who dedicate their lives 365 days a year,” he said, adding, “I would beg of you to support these people and all of the work that they do.”
Tom Hanks handed the Jones presentation, noting that his Inferno co-star has a name befitting her talent and personality, while she, in turn, thanked all of the people who have helped her along the way, particularly since her breakthrough role in 2011’s Like Crazy.
Christopher Guest was a fitting presenter for Gervais, whom he ribbed by beginning, “It’s an honor to present this award to Ricky Gervais. It would be a greater honor if he were presenting me with the award, and it would probably make more sense, but right or not, Ricky probably deserves this award.” Gervais accepted the award with off-the-cuff jokes. “I knew I had won and I still didn’t prepare a speech,” he said. “That shows you the contempt I have for this award and this town.” Gervais added that he interpreted the award to mean that “you [the audience] and everyone in show business is saying I am better than Charlie Chaplin.”
Finally, Brie Larson presented Jackson, her Kong co-star and the star of her own upcoming directorial debut, with his prize, noting that he often says he feels lucky to have been in so many classic films before adding, “Sam, did you ever think that might be because of you?” Jackson, speaking without prepared remarks, said, “Hollywood found me at the time I needed to be found,” adding, “It’s amazing, the trip I’ve been on.” The actor said he gets “20 to 30 million new fans each year” because kids become old enough to see and love Pulp Fiction. And he said that he finds it moving “that I’ve touched people on a lot of continents — I don’t know if I can say that in this Trumpian world — affected people on a lot of continents.”
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