BAFTA Film Awards 2021: Snobs, no-shows and the best Zoom backgrounds – our six key talking points

It was yet another awards ceremony featuring winners accepting from their sofas – yet despite the lack of a full red carpet of celebs, this year’s BAFTA Awards still made for an entertaining evening with moments of humour and emotion.

Everyone is talking about Nomadland, the night’s big winner with four awards – best film, director, lead actress and cinematography – but there were plenty of other scene-stealers, too.

And we even got some BAFTA glamour from the Royal Albert Hall, where presenters including Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Hugh Grant attended in person. There was even more from 5,400 miles away in Los Angeles, as stars including Renee Zellweger and Rose Byrne made the effort to get up early and dish out gongs virtually.

Well, we have to stay up all night for the Oscars, it’s only fair.

Here are the key talking points from the 2021 BAFTA Awards.

Thanks to the ‘snobbish’ Brits

There were a few humorous speeches, but perhaps the most memorable quote came from the best supporting actress winner Yuh-Jung Youn, for her role in family drama Minari.

The 73-year-old Korean actress joked that she was honoured to be recognised by the "snobbish" Brits for her performance in the film, winning over homegrown talent Kosar Ali and Ashley Madekwe.

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Accepting the award virtually, Youn was serious at first, saying she was "very honoured" to win and sending her "deepest condolences" on the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

A BAFTA award has extra meaning as it is recognition from British people, she said, quipping that we are "known as very snobbish people – they approve me as a good actor, so I’m very privileged and happy".

It sounds like Youn thinks we Brits have high standards.

Who wasn’t camera ready?

With the awards requiring nominees simply to switch their computers on and get dressed only from the waist up, should they choose, viewers were no doubt expecting to see all the winners giving their speeches.

But even virtual ceremonies have their no-shows, with neither the best actor not the best actress, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Frances McDormand, available to accept their prizes.

Sir Anthony did, however, attend the winners’ media room afterwards, confirming that he is celebrating his win in his native Wales. The 83-year-old, who is from Port Talbot, won his award for The Father, directed by Florian Zeller, about a man slipping into dementia.

The star won his first BAFTA in 1969 for The Lion In Winter and he said he never expected to be recognised again – perhaps why he wasn’t there for the acceptance speech.

"This is wonderful," he said after the awards. "I’m at this time in my life where I never expected to get this, you know."

Sir Anthony now has three best actor BAFTAs under his belt, so he’s not done too badly.

Red carpet fashion in a COVID world

While lockdown restrictions meant the nominees had to stay at home, awards presenters were able to glam up and attend the ceremony at the almost empty Royal Albert Hall.

It wasn’t quite the same in terms of the red carpet fashion parade, but the celebs who were there made sure to look their best.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas revealed her first outfit on Instagram – a sleek black gown with ’80s power shoulders and colourful butterfly features, before walking the carpet with husband Nick Jonas in a pink embroidered top and white harem trousers. And of course, they had matching masks.

Cynthia Erivo wore a gold and silver Louis Vuitton minidress with intricate, armour-like detailing, while Gugu Mbatha-Raw chose a silver mid-length dress to bring some Hollywood-style glamour to proceedings.

Plus, we saw some very dapper suits from the two Grants – Hugh and Richard E (who told Sky News he was just happy to leave the house) – as well as Tom Hiddleston and Asim Chaudhry.

Not all Zoom backgrounds are made equal

Either British writer and director Emerald Fennell has an extremely swish pad, or she wasn’t collecting her prize from home. Is that a grand piano we spy behind you?

So as well as her awards for best original screenplay and outstanding British film for her darkly comic revenge story Promising Young Woman, Fennell (who you might recognise as the actress who plays Camilla in The Crown) also wins fanciest background. Congratulations!

She also accepted one award holding a chocolate BAFTA aloft, so even her snacks were appropriate.

Other backgrounds of note: Daniel Kaluuya’s bookshelf; Remi Weekes’ bunting, and Sound Of Metal editor Mikkel EG Nielsen for his lovely plant arrangements.

Zhao: you might have won all the awards, but this is one category you need to up your game in.

One to watch

East Londoner Bukky Bakray had never acted before she was picked to star in Sarah Gavron’s coming-of-age drama Rocks. This year, she was nominated for best leading actress at the BAFTAs.

While she lost out in that category (to two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand, so tough competition), she was named this year’s BAFTA rising star – the only award to be voted for by the public, with previous winners including James McAvoy, Noel Clarke, Kristen Stewart and Tom Hardy.

Speaking in the virtual winners room afterwards, Bakray said: "I think when you look at Rocks’ narrative, it’s not flashy, it’s not crazy, there’s no guns, there are no stunts, there is no this and that.

"Even though I love films that have that, this film is really minimalistic. It really focuses on life and human nature and humanity."

In Rocks, Bakray plays a teenage girl struggling to take care of herself and her younger brother after they are abandoned by their mother. "When we filmed Rocks I thought 100 people would watch the film, maximum," she said. "I didn’t think it would have this reach."

Plenty more than that will have seen it now.

A poignant tribute

Director Thomas Vinterberg commemorated his late daughter as Danish tragicomedy Another Round was named the winner of the best foreign language film award.

Starring Casino Royale actor Mads Mikkelsen as a teacher who tests a theory that he will improve his life by maintaining a constant level of alcohol in his blood, the film has received critical acclaim and is set to reach cinemas here (fingers crossed) in June.

Vinterberg, who was also nominated for best director, lost his teenage daughter Ida in a car accident at the start of the shoot, and much of the movie was made at her school.

He joked as he first accepted the award, saying: "I did have a small suspicion you Brits might like a movie about drinking."

Finishing his thank yous, he said: "Most importantly, I want to thank my daughter Ida, who is no longer here. She was more enthusiastic about this project than anyone else and it made her miss her hometown Copenhagen, and now we miss her.

"We made this movie for her, so the honour granted by you BAFTA voters means more to us than you could ever imagine."

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