Baftas 2024: A dog, tears and Murder on the Dancefloor

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Watch: Bafta Awards 2024 highlights

By Emma Saunders
Culture reporter

What a night at the Bafta film awards. And we’re not just talking about Oppenheimer picking up the most prizes.

David Tennant brought a dog, Barry Keoghan showed his love for Sophie Ellis-Bextor and our favourite US star Da’Vine Joy Randolph cracked on to Chiwetel Ejiofor. We’re here for it.

Here’s some of the top moments you might have missed from the ceremony and behind the scenes.

Bring on the Anglophiles

Emma Stone’s dress was reminiscent of some of her costumes in Poor Things

There wasn’t a single British male up for best actor or supporting actor this year and supporting actress nominee Rosamund Pike told us on the red carpet: “I don’t have much faith in British people rallying round their own… so I was really delighted to be nominated.”

But we don’t really mind after the Brits received a lot of love from across the pond courtesy of the likes of Emma Stone and Robert Downey Jr, two of Sunday night’s big winners.

Stone started her acceptance speech for best actress in Poor Things by thanking her dialect coach. “He did not laugh at me when I had to say ‘water’ [in an English accent]. Backstage, she also learned a new bit of British slang when asked a question about “having a chinwag”.

War Horse

Meanwhile, US comedian and actor Keegan Michael-Key presented an award entirely in an English accent and best supporting winner Downey Jr said he owed his award in part to Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan’s “British sensibility”.

Not to mention fellow US star Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who is a fully paid-up Anglophile. She started her career in London’s West End in Ghost the Musical and before that, studied at the British American Drama Academy in Oxford.

“I used to come in [to London] and see plays and I saw War Horse at the National Theatre, it changed my life,” she said backstage. “It was so amazing, I called my school [back in the US] and said ‘I’m not coming back, I want to stay here.’ So you guys taught me the classics and I’m obsessed with Pinter and all that stuff.”

More Da’Vine Joy

Da’Vine seemed thrilled with her new companion

She really is the gift who keeps on giving. Earlier in the evening, she took to the stage to collect her award for best supporting actress for her role as grieving mother Mary in The Holdovers.

As she stepped up to receive the prize from 12 Years a Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor, she couldn’t resist telling him: “You’re so handsome.” And he did indeed look dapper in a classic black tux.

She got teary as she spoke about co-star Paul Giamatti and again when she talked about her character. “There have been countless Marys throughout history who have never had the chance to wear a beautiful gown and stand on this stage here in London. Telling her story is a responsibility I do not take lightly.” We were welling up, too.

Later, she made journalists cry with laughter when she used a well-known British word beginning with ‘b’ when asked about the odd decision to release The Holdovers in the UK in January, even though it’s set during the Christmas period. We’re sure you can guess what word we’re referring to.

Shout-out to the Oppenhomies

Best actor winner Cillian Murphy probably made his teenage sons cringe when he thanked his “Oppenhomies” in his acceptance speech but we loved it.

He’s the first Irish-born performer to win a best actor Bafta and said, “I’m a really proud Irishman, it means a lot.” He added: “People have come up to me on the street and said they’ve seen the film [Oppenheimer] five, six, seven times… it’s very humbling… and it’s been a brilliant year for cinema.”

At three hours long, six or seven times might be a just a bit too much.

Tennant triumph

David Tennant also brought along doggy accessories

Host David Tennant was an all-round success this year, with his natural enthusiasm proving infectious and a genuinely funny script. And how many men could get away with a combo of kilt, sporran and sparkly epaulettes?

He also brought a DOG to the Baftas. Bark Ruffalo, geddit? Loving the canine theme this awards season. We’re only just getting over the dog from Anatomy of a Fall rocking up to the Oscars luncheon last week.

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Tennant also had fun with the Barbie crew, introducing “the ugly corner” as the camera panned to gorgeous pair Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in the audience. Signing off the show with “Come on Barbie, let’s go party” was also a highlight.

Michael J Fox was a moment

We had hoped he would make an appearance but he wasn’t on the confirmed guest list ahead of the awards on Sunday. So it was a thrill to see Back to the Future legend Michael J Fox presenting the award for best picture. There was a standing ovation for the star, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was just 29, and rarely makes public appearances.

Since then, the 62-year-old has gone on to raise millions for research into the disease and also raises awareness through The Michael J Fox Foundation. Many on social media said his appearance brought them to tears.

Saltburn’s night was bittersweet

Sophie Ellis-Bextor performed with a troupe of voguing dancers

While Emerald Fennell’s twisted thriller failed to convert any of its five nominations into awards, it still dominated the headlines as Sophie Ellis Bextor took to the stage to perform Murder on the Dancefloor. Her 2002 track has enjoyed something of a renaissance since being used during the infamous final scene of the film as Barry Keoghan’s character Oliver dances naked around his country pile.

Thankfully, Barry didn’t feel the need to re-enact his performance, staying safely ensconced in his seat. The camera did cut to him at the end though and he seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the show.

Hugh Grant’s deadpan delight

Grant may have faced some criticism after playing the role of an Oompa-Loompa in hit film Wonka but the audience were delighted nonetheless when he came up with a rhyme in keeping with his character as he presented the award for best director.

“Oompa-loompa, doompity-dee, now the best director categor-ee, Oompa Loompa doompity-dong, most of these films were frankly too long, Oompa Loompa doompity daa, but for some reason, the nominees are…”

War in the spotlight

It wasn’t all frivolous fun, however. The Zone of Interest won three awards, including outstanding British film. It tells the chilling story of the head of Auschwitz, who lives next door to the death camp with his young family.

Producer James Wilson said in his acceptance speech for best film not in the English language: “Walls aren’t new from before or since the Holocaust and it seems stark right now that we should care about innocent people being killed in Gaza or Yemen or Mariupol or Israel.”

20 Days in Mariupol picked up the prize for best documentary. Its director, Mstyslav Chernov, gave an emotional interview to the BBC’s Colin Paterson, saying that he hopes he will still be alive by the time the Baftas come around next year. His film documents a team of Ukrainian journalists trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol as they document the atrocities of the Russian invasion.

Speaking backstage, he said: “We give voice to Ukrainians. We keep reminding the world about what is happening right now. Another city just got occupied by Russia so it’s more important than ever to be here and keep talking about this. This award is for the people of Mariupol. They have saved our lives. They have helped us every step of the way.”

Samantha Morton dedicates award to children in care

Morton, who has enjoyed a successful TV career in shows such as The Walking Dead as well as starring in films like Minority Report and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, was the recipient of this year’s Bafta Fellowship, the organisation’s highest honorary accolade.

She grew up in the care system and told the audience how important it was to for people from her background to be represented in films and TV.

“When I first saw Ken Loach’s Kes on a huge telly that was wheeled into my classroom, I was forever changed.

“Seeing poverty and people like me on the screen, I recognised myself – representation matters.”

She said she would tell her younger self: “You matter, don’t give up, the stories we tell, they have the power to change people’s lives.

“Film changed my life, it transformed me and it led me here today. I dedicate this award to every child in care, or who has been in care and who didn’t survive.”

Speaking backstage about the challenges for the British film industry, she said: “We can’t just be a service industry for the wonderful Americans… we need our own investments. But if our government only gives us a culture and sports minister rather than separating that and identifying what we do… it’s a billion dollar industry. And it’s foolish of them not to understand that.”

Matthew Perry upset

There was some consternation about the former Friends star not being mentioned in the In Memoriam segment. But Bafta said he would be included in the obituary montage for its television awards in May.

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