Updated: Feb 4, 2020
World War One film 1917, Joaquin Phoenix, Renee Zellweger and Brad Pitt, were among the big winners at the Bafta's on Sunday.
1917 walked away with seven prizes in total. The British epic war film, directed, co-written and produced by Sam Mendes, chronicles the story of two young British soldiers during World War I who are tasked with delivering a message calling off an attack doomed to fail soon after the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line during Operation Alberich in 1917.
This message is especially important to one of the young soldiers as his brother is taking part in the pending attack.
The film stars George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, with Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth, and Benedict Cumberbatch in supporting roles. It is based in part, on an account told to Mendes by his paternal grandfather, Alfred Mendes.
The awards for 1917 included best film, best British film, best director and best cinematography.
Joker won three awards including best actor for Joaquin Phoenix, while Renee Zellweger was named best actress for her portrayal of Judy Garland.
Joaquin Phoenix received praise for his powerful polemic against the awards body, calling out "systemic racism" in the film industry.
In his speech, Phoenix said he felt conflicted by his victory because so many of his fellow actors who were deserving didn’t have that same privilege.
He added: “We send a very clear message to people of colour that ‘you’re not welcome here."
His comments followed an outcry about the all-white acting nominations line-up.
Actress Viola Davis and director Lulu Wang, who made The Farewell, were among those to applaud him on Twitter.
The all-white acting nominees announced by Bafta last month provoked uproar, with the hashtag #BaftasSoWhite once more trending and some fearing this year’s ceremony might face a boycott.
In his closing remarks, Prince William, who is the Bafta president, mirrored Phoenix’s sentiments and alluded to the controversy, saying that, it was not the first time they found themselves talking about the need to do more to ensure diversity in the sector and awards process.
He added: “That simply cannot be right in this day and age.”
Meanwhile, other winners at the awards show included Brad Pitt, who won best supporting actor for his role in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
Pitt made a Brexit joke in a message read out by his co-star Margot Robbie.
"Hey, Britain, hear you've become single - welcome to the club! Wishing you the best with the divorce settlement," the actress read.
She added: "He says he is going to name this Harry because he is really excited about bringing it back to the States with him. His words not mine."
Top Boy actor Michael Ward was also among those celebrating a win and his mother couldn’t have been prouder.
Ward beat Jack Lowden, Awkwafina, Kaitlyn Dever and Kelvin Harrison Jr. to take home the EE Rising Star Award.
“I just want to say thank you, first of all, to God for making everything possible. Thank you to my dad, because I know you're watching down on me, guiding and protecting me on this journey,” he said.
“I want to say thank you to my mum for believing in me, sacrificing everything for all of us to be here,” he added.
Korea’s Bong Joon-ho took two gongs, including best original screenplay, while adapted screenplay went to Jojo Rabbit’s Taikag Waititi, who is of Maori descent.
Full list of winners:
Renée Zellweger - Judy
Joaquin Phoenix - Joker
Laura Dern - Marriage Story
Brad Pitt - Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
Sam Mendes – 1917
Outstanding British film
EE Rising Star Award (voted for by the public)
Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer
Bait - Mark Jenkin, Kate Byers, Linn Waite
Film not in the English language
Parasite - Han Jin Won, Bong Joon Ho
Jojo Rabbit - Taika Waititi
Joker - Hildur Gudnadottir
1917 - Roger Deakins
Little Women - Jacqueline Durrant
Le Mans '66 - Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker
1917 - Lee Sandales
Make-up and hair
Bombshell - Vivian Baker, Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan
1917 - Scott Millan, Oliver Tarney, Rachael Tate, Mark Taylor, Stuart Wilson
Best special visual effects
1917 - Greg Butler, Guillaume Rocheron, Dominic Tuohy
Joker - Shayna Markowitz
British short film
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl)
British short animation
Grandad Was A Romantic