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BAFTAs 2020: the lowdown

Olivia Colman won in the Best Actress category in 2019 for her performance in The Favorite

From the nominees to the ceremony at a London landmark, this is what you need to know about the BAFTAs 2020…


As the British outing on the awards season schedule, the BAFTAs brings something different to its counterparts across the pond – from the nominations to the red-carpet fashion (and the occasional royal guest). The 2020 ceremony will be the 73rd in BAFTA history and welcomes a new host to proceedings, as well as the biggest names in film right now. While most categories on the roster are international, there are awards for Outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Producer or Director, as well as the Rising Star prize, which celebrates upcoming talent and is voted for by the British public.

Who are the nominees?

Shortly after the Golden Globes kicked off the new year and awards season in style, the BAFTA nominations were announced on January 7. In a surprising turn, Joker – which received a mixed reception when it was released in the fall – leads the pack, with 11 nods. Todd Phillips’s thriller is closely followed by The Irishman and Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood, with 10 nominations each. On the performance front, the Best Actress nominees are Renée Zellweger for Judy (for which she picked up a statuette at the Golden Globes), Jessie Buckley for Wild Rose, Charlize Theron for Bombshell, Saoirse Ronan for Little Women and Scarlett Johansson for Marriage Story. Johansson is also up for Best Supporting Actress for Jojo Rabbit, while Margot Robbie features twice in this category – for both Bombshell and Once Upon A Time… Awkwafina – who became the first Asian-American woman to win Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes – is recognized in the Rising Star shortlist, for The Farewell.

The lack of diversity in the nominations has caused disappointment and criticism across the industry, as has the fact that no female filmmakers feature in either the Best Director or Best Film categories.

Red-carpet queens Thandie Newton, Margot Robbie (who is nominated for two BAFTAs this year) and Letitia Wright

Who rules the red carpet?

The BAFTAs usually take a slightly more rock’n’roll approach to the red carpet, and some of the ceremony’s most memorable moments have come courtesy of the likes of Cher (who attended the 1984 BAFTAs with then-beau Val Kilmer) and comedic actresses Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley. After the austerity of all-black looks in support of the Time’s Up movement in 2018, ruffles ruled 2019’s red carpet with Best Supporting Actress winner Rachel Weisz looking spectacular in a frothy white Gucci gown, Thandie Newton in Valentino and Margot Robbie in Chanel. Rising Star award winner Letitia Wright opted for a white Stella McCartney pant suit.

Who are the most prolific winners – and the standout on-stage moments?

Meryl Streep doesn’t have quite as many BAFTAs on her shelf as Oscars or Golden Globes (she has been nominated 15 times but won only twice), which might explain why she was so overcome on winning for her portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady that she lost her shoe as she walked on to the stage. Luckily, the ever-chivalrous Colin Firth was there to resolve the issue, Cinderella style. Dame Maggie Smith holds the record for the most Best Actress wins so far with four, closely followed by Anne Bancroft, Audrey Hepburn and Simone Signoret on three. A 14-year-old Jodie Foster collected the Best Supporting Actress award for both Taxi Driver and Bugsy Malone, returning 15 years later to take home Best Actress for her performance in The Silence of The Lambs. In a very BAFTA turn of events, when the animated movie Babe was shortlisted for four awards in 1996, its porcine star attended the ceremony in anticipation of a win. (Sadly, she left with empty trotters.)

Meryl Streep has received no-less than 15 BAFTA nominations in the span of her career

When and where does the ceremony take place?

Located once again in the Royal Albert Hall, presenter Graham Norton makes his hosting debut, taking over from Joanna Lumley for this year’s ceremony, on February 2. It will be broadcast on BBC One for UK viewers, while the red carpet will be streamed on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


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