Ben Affleck thanked the British Academy for giving him a “second act” after he picked up a Best Director award at the Baftas for Argo. The movie also surprised experts when it took the Best Picture statuette. Argo beat competition from Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty to win Best Picture at the 65th EE British Academy Film Awards.
James Bond was also keen to get in on the action, as Skyfall became the first of the franchise to win a mainstream film prize. The 23rd Bond film won the award for Outstanding British Film, beating Anna Karenina, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Seven Psychopaths. The series has been nominated 42 times at the Baftas but only won once, in a technical category.
Affleck, who made his name with Good Will Hunting before going on to star in a string of films that received mixed critical response, has reinvented himself as a director. His previous works, including The Town and Gone Baby Gone, won critical acclaim but this is the first time he has won a Bafta.
After beating experienced directors Kathryn Bigelow, Ang Lee, Quentin Tarantino and Michael Haneke, he said: “This is a second act for me and you’re giving me that and this industry has given me that. I want to dedicate this to anyone else trying to get their second act; you can do it.”
While Argo, based on a true story of a CIA operative’s mission to rescue six US diplomats from Tehran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, has been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, Affleck himself is not in the running.
George Clooney, who produced the film, said to Affleck: “I don’t know what you do for a third act; you’re remarkable at what you do.”
Affleck did miss out on a Best Actor nod for the same film, losing to Daniel Day-Lewis for his portrayal as the title character in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, his fourth Bafta win. The American said there had been a “400,000 to one chance” he would beat Day-Lewis.
Best Actress went to Emmanuelle Riva at the age of 85, the oldest star to win, for her portrayal of Anne Laurent in Amour. The film also won Best Film Not in the English Language.
Javier Bardem missed out on the Best Supporting Bafta for his turn as Skyfall villain Raoul Silva. It went to Christoph Waltz for his role as a bounty hunter in Django Unchained, who said: “It all starts and ends with Quentin” adding “You silver-penned devil you.”
Quentin Tarantino picked up the award for Best Original Screenplay, saying winning the award was “really nice. It’s really cool”. He thanked his actors for doing a “bang-up job with my dialogue”.
There was no shock in the best supporting actress category as Anne Hathaway picked up the award for her role as Fantine in Les Miserables. She said: “It’s the most sublime experience and I don’t know how I got so lucky.”
Juno Temple won the Bafta Rising Star award. Temple, who is the daughter of documentary-maker Julien, thanked her father “who truly made me want to do this”.