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Last Updated: Monday, 12 February 2007, 05:28 GMT
British success dominates Baftas
By Victoria Lindrea
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

This year's Orange Bafta Film Awards celebrated its 60th birthday in appropriately regal style, lavishing awards on kings and queens in the majestic surroundings of the Royal Opera House.

Since the Bafta awards shifted to just two weeks ahead of the Academy Awards in 2001, they have developed a decidely international flavour.

Daniel Craig
The latest Bond star was beseiged by fans on the red carpet

But Sunday was a noticeably British affair, from the winning films The Queen and The Last King of Scotland, to the February chill and the ample display of goosebumps among the guests.

And perhaps it was the customary British reserve that accounted for the decidedly low-key atmosphere, which saw The Queen director Stephen Frears shambling on stage in his 'lucky' red trainers and Kate Winslet forced once again to dispel tabloid tales about her weight.

The rain held off, but it would appear last year's damp celebrations deterred many of Hollywood's finest from making the trip across the Atlantic.

Alan Arkin and Jennifer Hudson, who both won awards in the best supporting acting categories, were just two of the absent stars.

Eva Green
Bond girl Eva Green won the Bafta Rising Star award

Nor was there any sign of Meryl Streep, Martin Scorsese or Leonardo DiCaprio - though perhaps it was just as well since The Departed failed to earn a single award.

A trio of women threatened to impale themselves on the barriers in their determination to get a photo with Jake Gyllenhaal, returning to present the best actress award after his triumph at last year's awards.

And the 10-year-old Abigail Breslin was clearly thrilled by her first trip to London.

But Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen all but ignored the press, and Penelope Cruz was frogmarched up the red carpet in the firm grip of Pedro Almodovar.

Paul Greengrass
Greengrass is shooting action sequel The Bourne Ultimatum

In the absence of George Clooney, it was left to 007, the modest Mr Craig, to deliver the red carpet dazzle as the crowds bayed for 'Daniel'.

While Craig failed to take the best actor title, it was undoubtedly a triumphant night for British film.

Richard Griffiths, nominated for best actor in The History Boys, called the domination of UK films "wonderful". "Five years ago they were saying the British film industry was dead. This kind of success can only promote more possibilities for more projects."

"Cinema is alive and vibrant, and particularly so in this country," said United 93's director Paul Greengrass, clearly surprised and delighted by his Bafta honour for best director.

He even took the unusual step of singling out the current Chancellor: "Gordon Brown should take credit for some of the success tonight."

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and his wife
I'll drink some tequila in the morning, that will calm my nerves
Babel director Alejandro Inarritu on preparing for the Oscars

"We've always had great films and great talent, but we needed the framework - and they've [the government] have got that right."

If it was a good night for the Brits, there was also much to celebrate in Mexico.

Pan's Labyrinth, directed by Mexico's Guillermo Del Toro, took three awards including best foreign film.

"Most of my movies have connected very strongly with a British audience and this is of particular pride for me," said Del Toro, best known for Blade II and Hellboy, who expressed his "great joy" at winning the Bafta.

But he played down talk of victory at the Oscars, where the film is nominated in six categories: "As a fat man, I have learned one thing, go to the party and don't expect anything!"

There was also double Bafta success for Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men, and even with just one award - for film music - Babel director Alejandro Inarritu was a happy man.

Dame Helen Mirren
Mirren compared the obsession with Oscar odds to being in a dog race

"After so much hard work, it's great to be recognised and acknowledged," he said, speaking of the recent success of Hispanic film-makers.

"No matter that it's late or not, it's beautiful," said the 43-year-old Mexican, who is nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards later this month.

The night finished with triumph for Oscar favourites Forest Whitaker and Dame Helen Mirren, who fittingly had the final word.

"We make a good king and queen," said Mirren, adding naughtily that after greeting Whitaker at so many award ceremonies the couple knew each other "very intimately".

"It was an amazing year for female performances," said the 61-year-old star. "I was very proud to see actresses being allowed to be themselves, be the age they are and give incredible performances."

"You don't become a great actress without doing the work. I had three superb roles and I worked my butt off for a year, and now I'm getting the reaction."


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