'King's Speech' is jewel in crown at awards
Royal drama 'The King's Speech' last night beat off stiff competition from a ballet thriller, an internet drama and a spine-twisting sci-fi tale for Britain's top film prize -- a foretaste of the Academy Awards in Hollywood later this month.
The story of stuttering monarch King George VI had 14 nominations for the British Academy Film Awards and also won BAFTAs for Best Actor (Colin Firth): best British film, original music and supporting actress, for Helena Bonham Carter's performance as the Queen Mother Elizabeth.
The tale of stuttering monarch King George VI scooped seven awards on the night at the Royal Opera House in London.
Speaking as he picked up the Leading Actor award for the second year running, Firth joked: "I like coming here, thank you Bafta."
Referring to his role in the Abba-inspired 'Mamma Mia!', Firth thanked his family for "remaining so steady whether they are dealing with a dancing queen or a sometime king".
Speaking backstage, he joked he had "plenty of shelf space" for the awards he has won for the role as the king, and said he was looking forward to the Oscars where he is heavily tipped to win Best Actor.
Bonham Carter added of her win: "I think I should thank the royal family, frankly, because they've done wonders for my career."
Firth was hotly tipped as the favourite to be named best actor for playing a king struggling to find his voice in his country's hour of need.
'The King's Speech' faced strong competition from thriller 'Black Swan', nominated in 12 categories, and Facebook-founding drama 'The Social Network', which had six nominations and growing momentum following wins at the Golden Globes and other awards.
'The Social Network' took the editing prize, while mind-bending saga 'Inception' won prizes for sound, production design and visual effects.
The BAFTAs are a strong indicator of possible Oscars glory. Last year, Iraq war drama 'The Hurt Locker' won six BAFTAs, including best picture -- then repeated the feat at the Oscars.
Yesterday's ceremony provided a curtain raiser for the February 27 Oscars, offering a mix of grey skies, British style and Hollywood glamour.
Stars including Samuel L Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Neve Campbell, Barbara Hershey and Bonham Carter braved a blustery drizzle to walk the red carpet at London's Royal Opera House. Jesse Eisenberg, the attention-shy star of 'The Social Network', said it was "an overwhelming experience to be here" -- and tipped Firth to take the best actor prize earlier in the night.
"Colin Firth is incredible in that movie and this is his home turf," he said.
'Inception' had nine nominations, while limb-lopping endurance story '127 Hours' and the Coen brothers' Western 'True Grit' had eight each.