Pray silence for The Artist: clean sweep at the Baftas

Feb 13, 2012

Meryl Streep wins best actress for her impression of Mrs Thatcher – otherwise, silence was golden

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IF THE BAFTAS are the Oscars with shorter speeches, then the die is cast. The French silent film The Artist will win everything at the Academy Awards in two weeks' time, with just the best actress award set aside for Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady and best supporting actress for Octavia Spencer in The Help.

In short, once it was clear that the British Academy liked The Artist as must as everyone else, then it was a night of few surprises. George Clooney got it right when he told the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday morning that he was unlikely to win best actor this year for The Descendants – it was The Artist's moment, and the dashing Frenchman Jean Dujardin had a lock on it.

The Artist won seven awards – best film, best director and best original screenplay (despite it being a silent movie) for Michel Hazanavicius (above right) as well as best actor for Dujardin (left with producer Thomas Langmann centre). It also took best cinematography, best music and best costume design. Only Berenice Bejo, the director's girlfriend and leading actress, missed out.

She, most critics agree, never stood a chance against Streep. As Peter Bradshaw writes in The Guardian, Streep has begun "a triumphal progress" to the Academy Awards for her "supremely accomplished" technical performance as Maggie Thatcher.

As always, a number of excellent films fell by the wayside. There was nothing for The Descendants, generally loved by critics and not only for George Clooney's performance. Nothing either for Brad Pitt's Moneyball, nor Drive, nor We Need to Talk About Kevin. Casts and crews will now be worried the same will happen at the Oscars on 26 February.

As The Times reports, the Baftas have become one of the most reliable indicators of Hollywood's voting intentions for the Oscars. The Artist's success is "likely to impress" members of the American Academy, who have until 21 February to cast their ballots.

There was at least something for the British film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, if nothing for its lead actor Gary Oldman. It took best adapted screenplay and ‘outstanding British film' - sadly not a category that exists at the Oscars.

In one of the few personal tributes paid at the podium, screenwriter Peter Straughan dedicated his award for Tinker Tailor to his late wife and collaborator Bridget O'Connor, who died before the film was made. "She wrote all the good bits. Bridget, I love you, I miss you. This is for you."

Baftas - the key awards:

Academy Fellowship - Martin Scorsese

Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema - John Hurt

Best Film - The Artist

Best director - Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Best actor - Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Best actress - Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Best supporting actor - Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Best supporting actress - Octavia Spencer, The Help

Outstanding British film - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Outstanding debut - Paddy Considine, Diarmid Scrimshaw, Tyrannosaur

Best documentary - Senna

Best original screenplay - Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Best adapted screenplay -  Peter Straughan and Bridget O'Connor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Best foreign film - The Skin I Live In

Best animated film - Rango

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