Bafta 2012: Meryl Streep wins for role as Margaret Thatcher
IN THE words of Bafta host Stephen Fry, Meryl Streep should be known these days as "Maggie Thatcher, trophy snatcher".
Streep won the best actress Bafta for her performance in The Iron Lady, continuing a triumphant awards season that looks set to carry her all the way to Oscar glory.
The 62-year-old lost a stiletto shoe on the way to the stage and struggled to keep her composure. “That couldn’t be worse!” she exclaimed as she reached the podium.
Streep said she was “very proud” of the film and told the audience that she had British roots. “Half of me is Streep and the other half of me Wilkinson from Lincolnshire,” she said, referring to her ancestors.
Streep has notched up a remarkable 14 Bafta nominations over five decades but this was only her second win. Her first was for The French Lieutenant’s Woman in 1981.
Fry addressed the actress as “the Right Honourable Baroness Meryl Thatcher” and joked at the start of the ceremony: “I guess this could be the first time in recorded history that we hear the words, ‘Maggie, Maggie, Maggie - win, win, win!”
The Iron Lady also won the best hair and make-up award - Streep spent more than two hours each day being transformed with the aid of prosthetics.
But the night belonged to The Artist, director Michel Hazanavicius’s love letter to cinema’s silent era, which romped home with seven awards.
They included best film, best director and best original screenplay, the latter prompting Hazanavicius to joke: “Actually, I’m very surprised. So many people thought there was no script because there was no dialogue.”
Jean Dujardin won best actor and said he was delighted "to receive this award from the country of Laurence Olivier, William Webb Ellis and Benny Hill - c'est incroyable".
Asked to explain the runaway popularity of the film, star Dujardin said: “It’s a simple story - a love story. It’s universal. And everyone loves a cute dog.”
Sadly, the one cast member missing from the red carpet was Uggie the Jack Russell, who chose to remain at home in Los Angeles.
Perhaps that was just as well, as director Michel Hazanavicius had a confession to make.
“I’m not a dog person,” the film-maker admitted. “I wrote this part for a dog and I know that the dog steals the show. But to tell you the truth, I’m not in love with dogs.”
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was named Outstanding British Film and also won best adapted screenplay - the latter a tribute to the work of writer Bridget O’Connor, who died from cancer, aged 49, before the film’s release.
John Hurt received the award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema, honouring a career that has included Midnight Express, The Elephant Man and most recently Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
The Academy Fellowship was bestowed on Martin Scorsese, hailed by Bafta as “a true inspiration to all young directors the world over”.
Christopher Plummer, aged 82, won his first Bafta. He was named best supporting actor for his role as a gay widower in Beginners. Best supporting actress went to Octavia Spencer for The Help.
There were also awards for Senna, the British documentary about the Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, and the final Harry Potter film, which won the prize for best special effects.
Stephen Fry hosted the ceremony at the Royal Opera House. Sir Tom Jones opened by singing Thunderball, the Bond theme, to mark 50 years of 007 at the cinema.
Presenters included Russell Crowe, returning to the Baftas 10 years after the infamous occasion on which he pinned a producer against a wall backstage because he was furious that his on-stage poetry recital had been cut from the televised broadcast.