By Marie-Louise Gumuchian
LONDON, (Reuters) – A German remake of anti-war classic “All Quiet on the Western Front” was the big winner at the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday, triumphing in the key categories at the ceremony seen as an indicator for next month’s Oscars.
Based on the 1928 novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque about the horrors of World War One from the perspective of a young German soldier, the Netflix drama had led nominations, with 14 nods, making it one of the most recognised films not in the English language in BAFTA’s history.
It won seven awards overall: best film, adapted screenplay, film not in the English language, director for Edward Berger, cinematography, sound and original score.
“German language film, we’ve been blessed with so many nominations and winning this is just incredible,” producer Malte Grunert said in his acceptance speech for best film.
“‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ tells a story of a young man who, poisoned by right-wing political nationalist propaganda, goes to war thinking it’s an adventure, and war is anything but an adventure. That is one of the messages of Remarque’s seminal novel and when we started embarking on this… that seemed a relevant message even 100 years after the book was published.”
Austin Butler won the leading actor prize for his portrayal of Elvis Presley in “Elvis”. He thanked the Presley family in his acceptance speech.
“I hope I’ve made you proud, this means the world to me,” he said.
Cate Blanchett won the leading actress prize for her portrayal of a gay conductor of a Berlin orchestra whose career comes tumbling down due to an abuse scandal in “Tár”, an undertaking she described as “very dangerous and career-ending potentially”.
“Banshees”, about two feuding friends on an island off the coast of Ireland, won outstanding British film, both supporting acting categories for Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan as well as original screenplay.
“Navalny”, about jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, won the documentary category. Filmmakers dedicated the award to the Navalny family and Bulgarian investigative journalist Christo Grozev.
The journalist, whom Russia put on a wanted list in December, said on Friday he had been “banned by British police from attending” the BAFTAs for security reasons.
In response, London police said they did not and could not ban anyone from attending a private event. Decisions on attendance were for event organizers, it said.
Sandy Powell became the first costume designer to get the BAFTA Fellowship, the highest honour bestowed by the Academy.
The BAFTAs also remembered Britain’s late Queen Elizabeth, who died in September. Actress Helen Mirren, who won both a BAFTA and an Oscar for her portrayal of Elizabeth in 2006 film “The Queen”, led a tribute.