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Recession drama Nomadland wins best film at BAFTA awards

LONDON —  US recession drama Nomadland, about a community of van dwellers, was the big winner at Britain’s BAFTA awards on Sunday, scooping best film and prizes for its Chinese-born director Chloe Zhao and leading actress Frances McDormand.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts ceremony was held virtually over two nights, with nominees joining in by video, due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

However film stars Hugh Grant and Priyanka Chopra Jonas appeared in person at London’s Royal Albert Hall while Renee Zellweger and Anna Kendrick joined from a Los Angeles studio to present the awards.

Nomadland, which has already picked up prizes this awards season, stars 63-year-old Ms. McDormand as a widow, who in the wake of the US economic recession, turns her van into a mobile home and sets out on the road, taking on seasonal jobs along the way.

“We would like to dedicate this award to the nomadic community who so generously welcomed us into their lives,” Ms. Zhao, who won the director category, said in her acceptance speech.

“Thank you for showing us that ageing is a beautiful part of life, a journey that we should all cherish and celebrate. How we treat our elders says a lot about who we are as a society and we need to do better.” Nomadland also won for cinematography.

Outstanding British film went to #MeToo revenge movie Promising Young Woman, which also won original screenplay.

The academy also paid tribute to Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband, who died on Friday, aged 99. Prince Philip was named BAFTA’s first president in 1959. His grandson Prince William is BAFTA’s current president.

Following an outcry last year when BAFTA presented an all-white acting contenders list, more than half of this year’s 24 nominees were actors of color.

Film veteran Anthony Hopkins won the leading actor category for portraying a man with dementia in The Father.

“I’m at a time in my life where I never expected to get this,” the 83-year-old told reporters of the award, adding his age had made making the movie “easy.”

Youn Yuh-jung won supporting actress for Minari, in which she plays a grandmother who travels from South Korea to the United States to look after her grandchildren.

The 73-year-old, who has won a Screen Actors Guild award and has been nominated for an Oscar for her performance, drew laughs in her acceptance speech when she jokingly said it was particularly meaningful to be recognized by “British people, known as very snobbish people.”

Daniel Kaluuya, who has swept this awards season for his portrayal of late Black Panther activist Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, won supporting actor.

Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi director Ang Lee received the BAFTA Fellowship, the academy’s top honor, for his contribution to film. —  Reuters

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