Baftas 2021: Six key talking points, from a surprise Anthony Hopkins win to Liam Payne’s confusing CGI double

Adam White
·4-min read
Daniel Kaluuya during his Best Supporting Actor speech at tonight’s Baftas (BBC)
Daniel Kaluuya during his Best Supporting Actor speech at tonight’s Baftas (BBC)

Tonight’s Bafta Film Awards saw Nomadland and Promising Young Woman take home the major wins in a ceremony that took place almost entirely over Zoom.

Edith Bowman and Dermot O’Leary hosted the show from London’s Royal Albert Hall, and were occasionally joined in person by presenters such as Hugh Grant and James McAvoy. All the night’s winners and nominees were based elsewhere, leading to a night of live-streamed speeches.

Among the more memorable moments of the night were delightful acceptance speeches by Rocks actor and EE Rising Star winner Bukky Bakray, as well as the Minari star Yuh-Jung Youn. The latter sparked hilarity by referring to the British people as “snobbish” while collecting her gong for Best Supporting Actress.

There was also a bizarre musical number by former One Direction member Liam Payne, who performed alongside a computer-generated double of himself.

The full list of tonight’s winners can be found here, while below you can find six of the night’s major talking points.

Barely any of these movies have come out yet!

Britain has valiantly steered clear of making at-home releases a new standard during the pandemic, out of the hope that cinemas will re-open to high demand momentarily. But it’s meant that something like Promising Young Woman, which was released on-demand in January in the USA, remains unavailable to (legally) see in the UK – though it will finally be released on Sky Cinema on 16 April. Almost all of the night’s major winners are in a similar boat, from The Father to Nomadland to Sound of Metal. It left this Baftas feeling oddly insider-y. Sure, those lucky enough to work in the media have been able to view these movies via private screeners, but what of everyone else?


Bukky Bakray and Yuh-Jung Youn proved that Zoom speeches aren’t inherently tedious

Probably due to the circumstances, tonight’s winners speeches were a typically stiff affair. So thank you to Rocks star Bukky Bakray and Minari’s Yuh-Jung Youn, both of whom were funny, endearing and, in Youn’s case, brilliantly caustic. With awe-inspiring elegance, she called the British people “very snobbish”, leading everyone at home to presumably evaporate out of shame.

Promising Young Woman was the safe choice to make

Improved voting procedures and a wider pool of Bafta voters made this year’s nominees list one of the most interesting in years. It was therefore a bit disappointing to see Promising Young Woman scoop both Outstanding British Film and Best Original Screenplay – particularly when it was up against Rocks, His House and Saint Maud in the former category, while the film’s script is among its weaker elements.

A Hopkins win was one of the night’s big surprises

Sir Anthony Hopkins’ acting pedigree has long been beyond doubt – so why was it such a surprise to see him collect the Best Actor award? Well, for one thing, he beat out a handful of strong competitors, including Riz Ahmed, whose turn in Sound of Metal has been hailed as a career-best, and Chadwick Boseman. Boseman’s posthumous performance, in the Netflix-released period drama Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, had been widely tipped for Oscar glory. Hopkins previously won Bafta awards in 1992 and 1994 for The Silence of the Lambs and The Remains of the Day, and was later awarded the Fellowship in 2008. He was, before the result was announced, seen as almost a too-obvious choice – someone whose talents had already been thoroughly appreciated, who had, in a sense, already had their turn in the spotlight. It’s a testament to the strength of his work in The Father that he was able to transcend such a thing. What ramifications this could have for the Oscars in two weeks time remains to be seen. In this strange awards season, though, nothing is a given.


Edith Bowman and Dermot O’Leary weren’t half bad

Bafta has an almost supernatural ability to make even the most charismatic stars – among them Joanna Lumley and Graham Norton – completely die on stage when they host these things. So kudos to Edith Bowman and Dermot O’Leary, two safe pairs of hands who successfully steered this understandably odd semi-virtual ceremony. Bafta bosses were also smart to make this a remarkably efficient two hours, which somehow even managed to finish early. There was minimal fuss, few moments of cringe, and little time wasted. More of this, please, even when there isn’t a pandemic on.

Liam Payne was a choice

The Bafta producer who pitched an opening duet between Liam Payne and a virtually augmented version of himself? Honestly the bravest person in the UK. Give them a medal. Then sack them.

Relive all of tonight’s major moments in our live blog below...

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