LONDON – Iran-hostage drama Argo continued its journey from awards-season outsider to favorite Sunday, winning three prizes, including best picture, at the British Academy Film Awards.
Ben Affleck was named best director for the based-on-reality story of a longshot plan to rescue a group of American diplomats from Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and the film also took the editing trophy.
Affleck, who has made a remarkable journey from little-regarded actor to award-winning director, dedicated his directing prize for anyone out there who’s trying to get their second act.
George Clooney, a producer of Argo, quipped: I don’t know what you’re going to do for a third act.
Argo has been building steam with big prizes at ceremonies such as the Golden Globes, the Producers Guild and the Directors Guild of America Awards. It is now considered a front-runner for the best picture award at the Oscars on Feb. 24, even though Affleck was not nominated for best director.
Daniel Day-Lewis won his universally expected best-actor trophy for Lincoln – the only prize out of 10 nominations for Steven Spielberg’s historical biopic at the British Academy Film Awards.
Emmanuelle Riva, the 85-year-old French film legend, was named best actress for Michael Haneke’s poignant old-age portrait Amour. It also was named best foreign-language film.
Made-in-Britain French revolutionary musical Les Miserables won four prizes, including best supporting actress for Anne Hathaway. James Bond adventure Skyfall spied some elusive awards recognition, winning trophies for music and best British film.
The British awards, known as BAFTAs, are increasingly glamorous – despite a well-earned reputation for dismal weather – and ever-more scrutinized as an indicator of likely success at the Hollywood Oscars. In recent years, the BAFTAs have prefigured Academy Awards triumph for word-of-mouth hits including Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech and The Artist.
This year they spread their honors widely, with multiple trophies for Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Amour and Django Unchained, as well as Argo.
Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama bin Laden thriller Zero Dark Thirty was shut out of the prizes, despite five nominations.
Quentin Tarantino picked up the original screenplay award for Django Unchained, and Christoph Waltz was named best supporting actor for playing a loquacious bounty hunter in Tarantino’s slave-revenge thriller.
Writer-director David O. Russell won the adapted screenplay prize for Silver Linings Playbook, a comedy about characters confronting mental illness.
Les Mis also took trophies for production design, sound and makeup/hair, and Life of Pi received honors for cinematography and visual effects.
Sunday’s ceremony also saw director Alan Parker receive a BAFTA Fellowship, the academy’s highest honor, for a career that includes Midnight Express, Fame and Mississippi Burning.