Mirren, Whitaker top British Oscars

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LONDON — A gracious monarch and a charismatic dictator took the top prizes Sunday at the British Academy Film Awards. Dame Helen Mirren was crowned best actress for playing Queen Elizabeth II in ‘‘The Queen,’’ which also was named the year’s best picture. Forest Whitaker took the best actor prize for his riveting turn as Idi Amin in ‘‘The Last King of Scotland,’’ the story of a young Scottish doctor’s entanglement with the Ugandan dictator. ‘‘Last King’’ was named best British film and also took the prize for best adapted screenplay. ...


Peter Morgan, who wrote ‘‘The Queen’’ and co-wrote ‘‘The Last King of Scotland,’’ joked that the double triumph might spawn a sequel.

‘‘Idi Amin wrote love letters to the queen, he offered himself as her lover,’’ Morgan said. ‘‘Forest, if you’re willing, I think there may be some takers.’’

Whitaker beat Daniel Craig (‘‘Casino Royale’’), Leonardo DiCaprio (‘‘The Departed’’), Richard Griffiths (‘‘The History Boys’’) and Peter O’Toole (‘‘Venus’’) to the best-actor prize.

Director Kevin Macdonald, however, said he initially doubted Whitaker was right for the role.

‘‘He seemed such a sweet, gentle, lovable sort of person,’’ said Macdonald, whose last film was mountaineering documentary ‘‘Touching the Void.’’ ‘‘He proved he did have those depths of anger and paranoia and terror in him.’’

No film dominated the awards, popularly known as BAFTAs and considered an important indicator of success at the Oscars in two weeks.

‘‘The Last King of Scotland’’ took three prizes, as did Guillermo del Toro’s fantastical saga ‘‘Pan’s Labyrinth,’’ which was named best foreign-language film and also won for costume and makeup design.

Paul Greengrass was named best director for ‘‘United 93,’’ a docudrama-style reenactment of one of the flights hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

Former ‘‘American idol’’ contestant Jennifer Hudson was named best supporting actress for the musical ‘‘Dreamgirls,’’ while Alan Arkin won the best supporting actor trophy for ‘‘Little Miss Sunshine.’’

Michael Arndt won the best original screenplay prize for ‘‘Little Miss Sunshine.’’

‘‘The Queen,’’ which depicts the public mourning and palace intrigue that followed the 1997 death of Princess Diana, beat Alejandro Gonzalez Inraritu’s multi-stranded saga ‘‘Babel,’’ Martin Scorsese’s cops-and-crooks saga ‘‘The Departed,’’ quirky road comedy ‘‘Little Miss Sunshine’’ and ‘‘The Last King of Scotland’’ to the best film prize.

The James Bond thriller ‘‘Casino Royale’’ went home with just one prize — for sound — despite nominations in nine categories.

The film’s ‘‘Bond girl,’’ Eva Green, was named rising star of the year, an award decided by public vote.

The ceremony has become an essential pre-Oscars stop since it was moved in 2000 from April to a February date to precede the Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Kate Winslet, Jake Gyllenhaal and Penelope Cruz were among the stars attending Sunday’s ceremony at London’s elegant Royal Opera House.

Mirren, 61, is now a strong favorite to take the best actress prize at the Academy Awards on Feb. 25.

To win the BAFTA, she beat a strong field that included Dame Judi Dench for ‘‘Notes on a Scandal,’’ Cruz for ‘‘Volver,’’ Winslet for ‘‘Little Children’’ and Meryl Streep for ‘‘The Devil Wears Prada.’’

Bookmakers were so certain Mirren would win that some stopped taking bets on her — a confidence shared by Dench.

‘‘I’m a betting woman, so I’ll put money on Helen,’’ Dench said before the ceremony. ‘‘I’m just here for the show.’’

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Winners of the 2007 Orange British Academy Film Awards, presented today:

Film — ‘‘The Queen’’
British Film — ‘‘The Last King of Scotland’’
Actor — Forest Whitaker, ‘‘The Last King of Scotland’’
Actress — Helen Mirren, ‘‘The Queen’’
Supporting Actor — Alan Arkin, ‘‘Little Miss Sunshine’’
Supporting Actress — Jennifer Hudson, ‘‘Dreamgirls’’
Rising Star — Eva Green
Director — Paul Greengrass, ‘‘United 93’’
First-time Director — Andrea Arnold, ‘‘Red Road’’
Original Screenplay — Michael Arndt, ‘‘Little Miss Sunshine’’
Adapted Screenplay — Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock, ‘‘The Last King of Scotland’’
Film Not in the English Language — ‘‘Pan’s Labyrinth’’
Music — ‘‘Babel’’
Cinematography — ‘‘Children of Men’’
Editing — ‘‘United 93’’
Production Design — ‘‘Children of Men’’
Costume Design — ‘‘Pan’s Labyrinth’’
Sound — ‘‘Casino Royale’’
Visual Effects — ‘‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest’’
Makeup and Hair — ‘‘Pan’s Labyrinth’’
Animated Feature — ‘‘Happy Feet’’
Short Animation — ‘‘Guy 101,’’ Ian Gouldstone
Short Film — ‘‘Do Not Erase,’’ Asitha Ameresekere
Academy Fellowship — Anne V. Coates
Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema — Nick Daubeny


AP

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on February 11, 2007 4:01 PM.

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