|Sacha, cane and wheelchair-bound woman|
The Brits really know how to throw a party! The British film community in Los Angeles kicked off this year’s awards season with BAFTA-LA’s Britannia Awards on Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, featuring some of Britain and America’s leading stars.
Hosted by Rob Brydon---who boosted his chances of a Hollywood career by having 1,500 guests at the Beverly Hilton Hotel roaring with laughter----and televised on BBC America, the light-hearted Britannia Awards have established themselves as one of the foremost award shows before the Golden Globes in January and the Oscars in March.
The emphasis was on comedy and fun as wine flowed throughout the evening, which started with a 90-minute VIP party and reception. The comic tone of the night was set by Brydon with impersonations of how Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins and Michael Caine would have handled the George Clooney role in Gravity.
The top award, the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for excellence in film, went to George Clooney, who was introduced by Julia Roberts. She said she was chosen for the job because a) Brad Pitt was out of town and b) Matt Damon was in town but unavailable. She described Clooney, with whom she co-starred in the Oceans Eleven films, as “one helluva guy.”
Sacha Baron Cohen, awarded the Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy was the undisputed star of the evening. He accepted a Chaplin-like cane from a wheelchair-bound woman introduced as having appeared with Chaplin in the movie City Lights, broke into a tap dance, tripped and sent the woman flying.
Judd Apatow, paying tongue-in-cheek tribute to Cohen, said the comic actor had done absolutely nothing in 2013: “He’s done zero films which means he had the same amount of output as Don Knotts, who has been dead since 2006.”
Sean Penn made a moving tribute to the charity work done by Idris Elba for the Prince’s Trust, and Nelson Mandela’s daughter Zindzi praised Elba’s portrayal of her father in Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, who co-stars with Benedict Cumberbatch in 12 Years A Slave, and his Starter for Ten and Star Trek co-star, the lovely Alice Eve, both praised Cumberbatch’s talents and presented him with the Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year while Sigourney Weaver introduced Ben Kingsley who gave a serious and somewhat pompous meditation on young actors of the future before accepting the Albert R. Broccoli Britannia Award for Excellence in Film.