CATE Blanchett has dedicated her third British film award to her late friend Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Blanchett’s chances of winning a second Academy Award received a boost when she won the BAFTA for her performance as a shamed New York socialite in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.
Australian Catherine Martin, who is also a favourite to add at least another Oscar to her two previous wins, won BAFTAs for her production design (with Beverley Dunn) and costume design on The Great Gatsby.
Blanchett outpointed hometown favourites Judi Dench (Philomena) and Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks) as well as Gravity’s Sandra Bullock and American Hustle’s Amy Adams to win her leading actress BAFTA.
Blanchett, 44, previously won BAFTAs for her performances in The Aviator and Elizabeth.
She dedicated her win to her late peer Hoffman, who she called “a monumental presence who is now sadly an absence’’ following his death from a suspected heroin overdose.
She said Hoffman’s talent, generosity and unflinching quest for the truth would be missed by those who loved him.
“You raised the bar continually so very, very high and I guess all we can do in your absence is to try and raise it continually through our work,’’ Blanchett said when accepting her BAFTA.
“So Phil, buddy, this is for you, you bastard, I hope you are proud.’’
Blanchett didn’t name Woody Allen specifically in her acceptance speech but rather thanked “everyone’’ that made Blue Jasmine “so memorable and such a game-changer for me’’.
Blanchett has reportedly been keen to avoid questions about recent sexual abuse accusations directed at Allen by his adopted daughter Dylan with ex-partner Mia Farrow.
The US film by British director and visual artist Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave, was named best film by the British Academy,
McQueen noted when accepting the top prize, there are “21 million people in slavery now as we sit here. I just hope there will not be another 120 years of ambivalence that allows another filmmaker to make a film like this.”
McQueen was beaten to the best director prize by Gravity’s Alfonso Cuaron.
The Mexican Cuaron, who lives in London, joked he makes “a good case for curbing immigration”.
Gravity was the ceremony’s big winner with six awards, including outstanding British film, original music, cinematography, sound and special visual effects alongside Cuarón’s directing prize.
American Hustle won three BAFTA Awards including original screenplay for Eric Warren Singer and director David O. Russell, make up and hair, and supporting actor for Jennifer Lawrence.
Barkhad Abdi won the supporting actor prize for his feature film debut, as a Somali pirate in Captain Phillips.
12 Years A Slave’ Chiwetel Ejiofor won the leading actor award. He began by thanking director McQueen who introduced him to the character and making a film of “such value and worth to all of us”.
”This is yours, I know it, you know, but I’m going to keep it, that’s the kind of guy I am,” he joked.
The favourite for the Academy Award in this category, Matthew McConaughey, was not nominated for a BAFTA.
Director Peter Greenaway whose films include The Draughtsman’s Contract and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover received the award for outstanding British contribution to cinema and a BAFTA fellowship was awarded to Helen Mirren.
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, attended the ceremony in his role as BAFTA president.
He joked, when presenting the award to Mirren, he should probably refer to her as “granny” after her performance as Queen Elizabeth II in Stephen Frears’ The Queen.
Director and writer Kieran Evans received the award for outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer for his first feature film Kelly and Victor.
The adapted screenplay went to Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan for Philomena in which Coogan stars as a journalist tracing the story of a baby taken by the Catholic Church from an unmarried woman.
Italian film The Great Beauty won the prize for a film not in the English language and the BAFTA for editing went to Ron Howard’s Formula One biopic of James Hunt and Nikki Lauda.
The Act of Killing received the documentary award and Frozen took home the BAFTA for Animated Film.
* The main BAFTA winners:
Best Film: 12 Years A Slave
Leading Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Leading Actress: Cate Blanchett
Director: Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity
Supporting Actor: Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips
Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle
Fellowship: Dame Helen Mirren
Outstanding Contribution: Peter Greenaway
Outstanding British Film: Gravity
Adapted Screenplay: Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan for Philomena
Original Screenplay: Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell for American Hustle
Original Music: Gravity
Production: Catherine Martin for The Great Gastby
Costume: Catherine Martin for The Great Gatsby