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'The Hurt Locker' wins six BAFTA Awards

February 21, 2010 |  2:34 pm

The Hurt Locker poster "The Hurt Locker" won six of its eight races at the BAFTA Awards in London including the top prize of best picture. Since the BAFTAs were moved up in 2000 to take place while academy members were still voting for the Oscars, these laurels have foreseen only three of the nine best-picture winners: "Gladiator" (2000), "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003) and last year's "Slumdog Millionaire."

Unlike this year's Oscars, there were only five films nominated for the top BAFTA and the winner was decided by a simple vote count. Of the four other nominees, all of which are also in contention at the Oscars, "Avatar" took two of its eight races, production design and visual effects; "An Education" prevailed with just one of its eight nominations, best actress (Carey Mulligan); "Up in the Air" went one for six winning adapted screenplay; and "Precious" came out on top in one of its four categories, supporting actress (Mo'Nique).

The BAFTAs have done better at predicting the acting Oscar champs since the date change. Of the 36 acting Oscars handed out this decade, 22 went to BAFTA winners. In 2006 and 2007, all four BAFTA champs went on to win at the Oscars. Last year, three of the four BAFTA winners repeated at the Academy Awards; Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler") was the exception. 

However, this year the BAFTA track record is likely to be just two for four. The lead acting BAFTAs went to two homegrown stars, neither of whom is favored at the Oscars: Colin Firth winning the only award for "A Single Man" and Mulligan doing the same for "An Education." However, the supporting BAFTAs were won by, no surprise, Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds") and Mo'Nique. 

That win by Waltz was the only one for "Inglourious Basterds," which had six nominations including directing and screenplay bids by Quentin Tarantino.It was not nominated for best picture, however. Among the other best-picture Oscar hopefuls, "District 9" lost all seven of its races; "Up" took two of its four categories, animated film and score; and "A Serious Man" lost its only BAFTA bid, for original screenplay, to "The Hurt Locker." As "The Blind Side" has yet to open in Britain, it was not eligible for consideration.

Thus that film's star, Oscars front-runner Sandra Bullock,  was not eligible to contend here for best actress. Mulligan -- the only English rose in the BAFTA bunch -- bested two of her American Oscar rivals -- veteran Meryl Streep, who scored her 12th nomination for "Julie & Julia," and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious") -- as well as two second-time nominees -- Ireland's Saoirse Ronan ("The Lovely Bones") and France's Audrey Tautou ("Coco Before Chanel"). The BAFTA best actress has won the Oscar six of nine times this decade.

To win best actor, one-time past nominee Firth edged out three of his Oscar competitors -- three-time previous BAFTA nominee George Clooney ("Up in the Air") and first-time contenders Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") and Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker") -- as well as fellow Brit and first-time nominee Andy Serkis ("Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll"). The BAFTA best actor has repeated at the Oscars five of nine times this decade.

In the supporting actor race, Waltz won over just one other Oscar nominee, Stanley Tucci ("The Lovely Bones"), and Mo'Nique bested the Oscar-nominated "Up in the Air" co-stars Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick. The BAFTA supporting actor champ has prevailed at the Oscars four of nine years, and the supporting actress winner has taken home the Oscar an impressive seven of nine times.

Although only four of the nine BAFTA directing champs of this decade went on to victory at the Oscars, this year's winner, Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker"), is likely to even those odds. Two of her Oscar rivals  -- James Cameron ("Avatar") and Quentin Tarantino ("Inglourious Basterds") -- were also in contention at the BAFTAs.

Among the other highlights of the ceremony at the Royal Opera House, Prince William, the newly announced president of the British academy, and Uma Thurman presented the fellowship -- the equivalent of the honorary Oscar -- to Vanessa Redgrave.

For the full list of winners visit the BAFTA website.

Photo: "The Hurt Locker" poster. Credit: Summit

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