Baftas 2021: Britain’s big film awards night – as it happened

Last modified: 08: 23 PM GMT+0

From shock on Zoom to heartfelt speeches, confectionery tributes and a red-lit Albert Hall, read our liveblog of coverage of the 74th Baftas

And with that, I’m off. I believe I’m liveblogging the Oscars in a fortnight, so please mark that in your diary if you like staying up too late to watch things that go on too long. In the meantime, thanks for joining me. Cheerio!

Aha, this is what I was hanging on for. It’s Peter Bradshaw’s Bafta analysis. Always spot on, this one. He’ll go far.

By the way, when it comes to compile the list of best Bafta looks, please put Alan Kim FRONT AND CENTRE.

Best Supporting Actor nominee Alan Kim wears Thom Browne to attend the 2021 #BAFTAs

— Ξvan Ross Katz (@evanrosskatz) April 11, 2021


Here’s our round-up of tonight’s awards, for people who accidentally clicked onto a liveblog when they just wanted to know what happened.


Here’s some analysis: the music that the Baftas used to soundtrack that 12-minute summary at the end of the show was exactly the same music that the BBC used in the Repair Shop advert that directly followed it. Wait, that’s not analysis. That’s just an observation. Sorry.

Finally, with a gratuitously unnecessary recap of the last two hours, it’s time to bid the 2021 Baftas goodbye. It was a tricky one to pull off given, you know, everything, but I’d call it a success. In fact, I think I’d take something like this over a flesh and blood awards show any day. Or an email. Just email me a list of winners next year.

Anyway, I’m going to hang around for the next half an hour to see if anyone has analysed this, and then I’m going to sleep.

And Noel Clarke won an outstanding contribution Bafta, too. It’s tacked on at the end in a slightly unseemly way, but the huge highlights reel of his work to illustrate it shows what a worthy winner he is.


I think the Baftas might had edited out the best speech. Tenet (remember Tenet?) won something for its effects, and it was accepted on a beach, and the guy accepting it appeared to fling himself off a cliff at the end of it. More like this, please.


Emerald Fennell and her chocolate Bafta.
Emerald Fennell and her chocolate Bafta. Photograph: Bafta/EPA

Meanwhile, I have managed to get some much needed first-hand clarification on Emerald Fennell’s chocolate Bafta. You are all very welcome.

It just appeared like magic!!! What a world!!

— Emerald Fennell (@emeraldfennell) April 11, 2021


And that’s it. Well done, everyone. That was all very painless. As we wrap up, here’s a compilation of awards presented yesterday during that programme you probably didn’t watch. And also other films that came out last year that other people liked. And also Hillbilly Elegy for some reason.


Director Chloé Zhao accepting the Bafta for best director for Nomadland.
Director Chloé Zhao accepting the Bafta for best director for Nomadland. Photograph: Bafta/EPA

NOMADLAND WINS! So that’s best film, best actress, best director and best cinematography. Surely – surely – this is now the film to beat this year. Then again, that’s what everyone said about 1917 after last year’s Baftas, so what the hell do I know.


We are apparently at the final award of the night already. Look how slim and speedy this is! I like it. Honestly, this might be the only thing that’s selling me on pandemics. Anyway, it’s best film.



FRANCES McDORMAND WINS! And Frances McDormand isn’t around to pick it up either. Meanwhile, Aaron Sorkin turned up to lose. I don’t know who I respect more in this situation.


Richard E Grant (thirsty) is here to present best actress. Dermot O’Leary, by the way, just called him “One of the only national treasures we didn’t steal”, which made me full-on splutter into a glass of water.



ANTHONY HOPKINS WINS! And Anthony Hopkins isn’t around to pick it up, because the thought of Anthony Hopkins sitting through a two-hour awards show in front of a laptop is genuinely unthinkable.


Renée Zellweger is here to present best actor. And she has seemingly singlehandedly fixed the wi-fi problem in Los Angeles. This is star power. If she’s free, I’d like her to come and sort out my mesh network in my shed soon.



CHLOÉ ZHAO WINS! Massively deserved, and neatly slots Nomadland into Oscar frontrunner territory. And better yet, Zhao is sitting in an office chair and wearing a very good shirt.


Jonathan Pryce is here to present best director. He has 100% been vaccinated. In Covid terms, he’s basically the Terminator tonight.


Corinne Bailey Rae and Leslie Odom Jr.
Corinne Bailey Rae and Leslie Odom Jr. Photograph: Scott Garfitt/for Bafta/Rex/Shutterstock

Leslie Odom Jr and Corinne Bailey Rae are now duetting through A Change Is Gonna Come. It’s beautiful, and all the more impressive for the fact that Leslie is in LA and Corinne is in London. Given that Anna Kendrick could barely get through a presentation speech without her wi-fi turning her into a gremlin, this is a proper achievement.


From a wood-clad conference room, Lee accepts the award. He says that Britain was the only country to get him at first. He says that Sense and Sensibility opened a number of doors for him, and that this award is a huge recognition. And that’s it. Short and sweet. I’m starting to enjoy these virtual awards shows.

Hugh Grant is here! He’s being deferent and charming about Ang Lee, the recipient of this year’s Bafta fellowship. He calls Lee a “hedge” and implies that he’s a fraud, he complains about the lack of an audience tonight, he outs himself as embittered and competitive. Is there any chance that Hugh Grant could present the whole Baftas next year?


Bukky Bakray receives EE Rising Star Bafta.
Bukky Bakray receives EE Rising Star Bafta. Photograph: Bafta/Reuters

Moving on, here’s the announcement of the Rising Star award. James McAvoy is presenting, and BUKKY BAKRAY WINS. It’s less a speech than just everyone Bakray knows screaming and hugging her. Once it all calms down, she settles into a terrific speech; thanking all the other nominees by name, most of the Rocks crew by name and everyone who died this year. Terrific.


Now for a devastatingly long in memoriam section. These are usually wrenching at the best of times, but this year it’s really driving home what a horrible time we’re all living through. The circumstances of tonight’s show mean that there isn’t a flashy performance to accompany the presentation; just name after name after name. Christ, this year.

Now for the second half of the outstanding British film category. And winner, too. PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN WINS! We’re back in the ballroom with Emerald Fennell, who must surely be hurtling towards an Oscar now.


Next up is best original score. SOUL WINS! And that’s a very good result. Atticus Ross accepts, and gets a hug from his kid in the process. A cheap move, but it worked. Hooray!


Morfydd Clark is the final EE Rising Star nominee to be introduced. Morfydd Clark was very scary in Saint Maud, so I don’t want her to win anything, even though she seems perfectly reasonable in real life.

Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed, Craig Foster receive Documentary Bafta award for My Octopus Teacher.
Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed, Craig Foster receive Documentary Bafta award for My Octopus Teacher. Photograph: Bafta/Reuters

Best documentary now. And MY OCTOPUS TEACHER WINS. Once again, this was an underdog, as evidenced by the fact that none of the producers actually seem to believe that they won. There’s hugging. There are tears. There is other behaviour that makes me weirdly edgy in the times of Covid. This was a big category, so congratulations.


Now for a segment I will call ‘Yes these films are good, but look at all the great stuff that’s going to come out when the cinemas are open again’. And look at the star power on display! Emily Blunt! Daniel Craig! The Rock! Peter Rabbit! Ryan Reynolds! The Mortal Kombat film! Space Jam 2! Emily Blunt again! About 400 clips of James Bond! It’s a nice reminder that movies aren’t always about winning awards, they’re also about being really expensive but a bit rubbish.

REMI WEEKES WINS! How fantastic. His House is a worthy winner, and it should be noted that Weekes has literally hung bunting behind him. Best of all, though, every other nominee is genuinely thrilled for him. Take notes, Sorkin.


I was so busy feigning shock over the state of Daniel Kaluuya’s bookshelf that I’ve missed the next category. Outstanding debut, I think. I hope you’re glad I’m here.



DANIEL KALUUYA WINS! And of course he does. There’s good argument for calling Kaluuya the breakout star of this awards season. Even if, as his speech shows, he splays out the books on his bookshelf, which will permanently ruin their spines. Actually, you know what? He doesn’t deserve this. Let’s introduce a basic level of book care in nominees next year. What a state.


Best supporting actor now. Cynthia Erivo presents, from inside a wonder PPE mirrorball.


Now for the next Rising Star nominee, Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù. And it turns out that a running theme of this category is taking a small role in those terrible Snow White movies from seven or eight years ago. This is proof that career progression is real.


PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN WINS! Emerald Fennell, who is sitting in an abandoned ballroom and eating a chocolate Bafta, is being as charismatic and charming as always. But mainly well done to Bafta for convincing Aaron Sorkin to turn up for three seconds of looking disappointed in a tiny window.

Rose Byrne’s glitchy ghost presents best original screenplay. She commits the fatal error of trying to make a joke. But the connection is bad and there isn’t an audience. Try harder next time there’s a global pandemic, Rose.



YUH-JUNG YOUN WINS! And this is a very charming speech. She introduces herself as “an actress from Korea” and offers her condolences for Prince Philip. And then she calls all British people ‘”snobby”. If she repeats this at the Oscars (and hopefully she will), she’ll be a megastar overnight.


Now for best supporting actress. Here to present is David Oyelowo, who is wearing a particularly lovely bowtie tonight.


This is a nice song, and a moving performance, but what I’m most grateful for is the way that there is only one Celeste and she isn’t a hologram, and she doesn’t keep dissolving into smoke, and this whole thing doesn’t make my sphincter slam all the way shut, so in that respect it’s a step up from the opening song.

Now for more music. It’s Celeste, singing Hear My Voice, which you may remember from The Trial of the Chicago 7, just after the scene where Aaron Sorkin wrote that some characters should receive a standing ovation for a speech that Aaron Sorkin also wrote.


The next Rising Star to be introduced is Conrad Khan. He’s in a white room that seems to have some cleaning products peeking out of the background. A mop? I don’t know. We’ll miss this sort of thing when Covid goes away, you know.

NOMADLAND WINS. Joshua James Richards accepts the award from a void that gives nothing away whatsoever. But he’s quoting Morrissey, so that’s something. But it’s a good speech, emotional and off the cuff and genuinely grateful.


Best cinematography now. Felicity Jones is here to present, or just explain what cinematography is, or whatever. Who knows?

Christ, that was a speech. OK, the Baftas are go now.

ANOTHER ROUND WINS. This is a huge category, arguably containing the best films of the entire night, so this is an incredible result. The producers seem to be taken completely by surprise – they’re all piling into the room with the webcam excitedly. One of them is filming the webcam on her phone. This is a brilliant result, and the first time that this awards ceremony has actually felt like an awards ceremony.

Now for film not in the English language. Pedro Pascal presents in person. I will not hear a single bad word about this man, not even his jacket, which is so big that it makes him look like three children standing on each other’s shoulders.


Next Rising Star introduction now. It’s time for Bukky Bakray from Rocks, who is also nominated for leading actress. If nothing else, she has appears to have matched her soft furnishings to the artwork in her room. Clearly we are in the presence of an artistic mastermind here.


Asim Chaudhry is now presenting best editing, live and in person. And SOUND OF METAL WINS. Mikkel EG Nielsen accepts from inside a nice greenhouse that has very poor internet.


The award for Outstanding British Film has 10 nominees, so they’re introducing five now and five later. Between Promising Young Woman and The Dig, they could probably just Fed-Ex the statue to Carey Mulligan now and be done with it, but it’s good to respect the process.


THE FATHER WINS. Christopher Hampton accepts the award from someone’s attic, which apparently has much better wi-fi than wherever Anna Kendrick was presenting from.


Now comes best adapted screenplay, presented by a very glitchy Anna Kendrick (thirsty).


Oh no, wait, they’re bulking out the runtime by interviewing the EE Rising Star nominees. First up, Kingsley Ben-Adir, sitting on a nice sofa, expresses gratitude for his career.

SOUL WINS. Dana Murphy accepts the awards from a nice room with a big window and a piano. She thanks everyone and that’s it. That’s the one big plus of virtual awards shows: you don’t have to watch each winner wobble up to the stage and feign surprise when they win. Announce the winner, quick pre-filmed speech, out again. Bang bang bang. This whole thing could be over by half seven if all goes well.


First up, Priyanka Chopra-Jonas (prediction: thirsty) presents best animated film, from a corridor somewhere.


And now the first award of the year. Let’s see how the hell this is going to work.

Dermot and Edith are introducing the awards. And there isn’t an audience? People are clapping, but they are nowhere to be seen. There is probably a decent explanation for this, but I’m choosing to believe that the audience is made up of the ghosts of Victorian-era performers.

Andra Day attends the Baftas in Los Angeles.
Andra Day attends the Baftas in Los Angeles. Photograph: Rob Latour/for Bafta/Rex/Shutterstock

Wait, I’ve figured out what this is. I don’t have time to find the clip, but go and watch the YouTube clip of William Shatner performing Rocket Man. This is that, but worse.

OK, this is going to be difficult to describe. The opening act of the ceremony seems to be a member of One Direction taking the form of several different holograms. And he’s possibly wearing a wig. And he seems to be singing a song that Ed Sheeran rejected for being too generic.

I honestly don’t know what this is. He keeps disappearing into a cloud of dust and then reappearing. This is like an episode of a television programme where various X Factor contestants thwart Thanos.

Dermot O’Leary and Edith Bowman welcome us, and an audience applauds, and I instantly get freaked out by the sound of applause. Weird what a year of living in a socially distanced void can do, isn’t it?

Anna Kendrick arrives at the Baftas in Los Angeles.
Anna Kendrick arrives at the Baftas in Los Angeles. Photograph: Rob Latour/for Bafta/Rex/Shutterstock

Chiwetel Ejiofor arrives at the Bafta awards.
Chiwetel Ejiofor arrives at the Bafta awards. Photograph: Alberto Pezzali/AP

The ceremony begins

OK, here we go. The 2021 Baftas are about to begin. This should be interesting. Good luck everybody.

As the clock ticks down to the ceremony, why not read some of the sterling Bafta coverage that The Guardian has already produced this year?

Danny Leigh wrote about the ceremony’s attempt at a course-correction after last year’s ceremony was (rightly) declared a whitewash.

Peter Bradshaw has done his traditional set of predictions. They’re usually right (usually more right than the actual results), so this will be fun to play along with at home.

The mighty Catherine Shoard has done a round-up of all the changes Bafta has made this year, because of everything that has happened in the last 12 months.

Finally, I did an Awards Show Drinking Game. It isn’t strictly about the Baftas, but what are you going to do tonight, not drink?

The other bit of news I have is that, apparently, the ceremony is not going to plan at all. People who know more than I do have whispered that the Baftas have been bedevilled by such a cavalcade of technical glitches that it is currently running at least an hour behind schedule.

This means that one of two things will happen. First, the BBC will do a competent job of editing out most of these mistakes for broadcast, meaning that the viewers will be presented with a seamlessly beautiful ceremony. Second, there will be too many mistakes for anyone to edit out in time, and we’ll be treated to the most entertaining Baftas in living memory. I’m expecting Scenario A to happen but, my God, I’m praying for Scenario B.

Now, before the show starts, I have a couple of updates. The first is that there has actually been a red carpet of sorts. Obviously it’s much smaller than usual – Tom Hiddleston appears to be the biggest name there – but it does present us with a chance to play a new red carpet game called Vaccinated, Thirsty, Or Unintimidated By Death.

This is how it works: you look at a picture of a real-life Bafta attendee and try to figure out whether they’re old enough to have realistically already been given a double dose of Covid vaccine (my money is on Jonathan Pryce for this), whether they’re so attention seeking that they’re willing to risk their own health for a photo opportunity (hello Tom Hiddleston), or whether they place a genuinely terrifying lack of value on their own life (best guess: Pedro Pascal). Fun game, right? Have fun in the comments.

These are the first Baftas in living memory where the awards will actually be a surprise to TV viewers

Welcome, one and all, to the 2021 Guardian Bafta awards liveblog. As you might have already gathered, tonight’s Baftas will be slightly unusual. There will be two hosts instead of one, for example, and some of the awards were given out at a separate ceremony last night. Oh, and barely anyone will be in attendance, for fear that they’ll cough and accidentally wipe out the entire international film-making community.

That’s right, it’s going to be another semi-virtual awards show. In truth, we’ve had a year of these already, so we already know what to expect. This Bafta ceremony will be smaller in scale than usual. There’ll be no traditional red carpet to speak of, so everyone will just Instagram their dresses from their own living rooms. There won’t be an afterparty, so I won’t end the evening crammed into a hotel basement right next to the toilets, like last year. Plus, if you’ve watched any of the nominated films at all, you probably didn’t watch them in a cinema, what with the pandemic and all.

But let’s not get too downhearted, because tonight also comes with a great big plus. Like usual the Baftas took place earlier today, so like usual what we’re about to watch are just edited highlights. But this year there’s no crowd, so people won’t tweet the awards as soon as they’re announced. And this means that these are the first Baftas in living memory where the awards will actually be a surprise to television viewers.

That’s bad news for me, because it means I can’t just cut and paste the winners into the liveblog like I usually do. But, you know, good news for everyone else and stuff.

The Baftas will begin at 7pm. Be back here promptly, please.



Stuart Heritage

The GuardianTramp

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