Royalty reigned at the British film awards on Sunday, with The Queen clinching best film and Helen Mirren best actress for her portrayal of the monarch, while The Last King of Scotland scooped three awards.
King won the awards for best British film and best actor for Forest Whitaker's portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
In contrast, the latest James Bond movie failed to shake or stir, picking up just one of the nine BAFTA nominations it received — winning the sound quality
The other main victor on a night of glitz and glamour in London's theatre-packed West End was Pan's Labyrinth — a fantasy set just after the end of the Spanish Civil War — which also picked up three awards.
The Queen, in which Dame Helen plays Queen Elizabeth II during the days after Princess Diana's death, led the BAFTA field with 10 nominations. She was overwhelmed with emotion and broke down at the end of her acceptance speech as she paid tribute to actor Ian Richardson, who died suddenly last week.
She said Richardson had been a mentor to her, adding, "Ian Richardson, I'm not too sure I would be here today if it wasn't for you." Later she jokingly said, “I want to thank the corgis because without them no one would have believed me as The Queen.”
Whitaker, who has also won Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for The Last King of Scotland, said, "This means a lot because to be embraced by another shore is a special thing. I try to think of myself as a citizen of the planet."
It was otherwise a disappointing night for British films and stars. Rang De Basanti, the entry into the Foreign Languages Film category, failed to reach anywhere.
It prompted a distributor of Indian films in UK to say that some lessons must be learnt by national selectors who nominate films for Academy Awards and for other international gongs. Nominations should be made on merit and not on what is liked in India alone.
The surprise arrival was Dame Judi Dench, the other nominee for Best actress award running close to Mirren. The veteran actress had earlier predicted the result, "There's no chance of me winning this evening — I'm a betting woman so I'll put money on Helen."
The race to be best director was won by Paul Greengrass for his fact-based September 11 drama United 93. He beat Stephen Frears (The Queen) and Martin Scorsese (The Departed).
Email Vijay Dutt: vdutt @aol.com