Boyhood, The Theory Of Everything and The Grand Budapest Hotel were among the big winners at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards on Sunday (08Feb15). Boyhood scored the coveted Best Film prize, while filmmaker Richard Linklater claimed Best Director and Patricia Arquette was named Best Supporting Actress.
Hawke accepted the director award on Linklater's behalf, as the filmmaker had opted to attend the Directors Guild Awards in Los Angeles the previous night (07Feb15) instead. Hawke says, "He was hijacked at the DGAs and sat there losing and is going to be really, frankly, p**sed off, that he’s not here tonight."
Linklater lost the top directing prize at the DGA ceremony to Birdman's Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
The Theory of Everything was another triple winner, scoring Outstanding British Film, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Leading Actor for Eddie Redmayne's portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking.
In his acceptance speech, the star paid tribute to Hawking and his wife Jane, who were in the audience at London's Royal Opera House, saying, "I would like to thank them for their trust in us, their generosity and their kindness and for reminding me of the great strength that comes from having the will to live a full and passionate life."
The Grand Budapest Hotel landed the most prizes of the night with five, but its biggest win was in the Best Original Screenplay category for writer/director Wes Anderson, with the remaining accolades coming in the technical categories, including Costume Design, Production Design and Original Music.
Julianne Moore continued her awards season streak with the Leading Actress honour for Still Alice, while J.K. Simmons won Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash and Unbroken's Jack O'Connell was named the EE Rising Star.
Other winners included Citizenfour for Best Documentary and The Lego Movie, which picked up the Best Animated Film prize, despite being snubbed in the Oscar nominations.
During the ceremony, British royal The Duke of Cambridge and Robert Downey, Jr. paid special tribute to late actor/director Lord Richard Attenborough via video message. Attenborough, who directed Downey, Jr. in 1992 biopic Chaplin and served as BAFTA Chairman for eight years, died in August (14). The Iron Man star said, "I'm sad. I miss you Dicky," before reciting the opening lyrics to Smile by Charlie Chaplin.
The main In Memoriam tribute section honoured a number of late stars including Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall, Harold Ramis and Mickey Rooney.
The full winners list is as follows:
Best Film: Boyhood
Outstanding British Film: The Theory of Everything
Best Director: Richard Linklater - Boyhood
Best Leading Actor: Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
Best Leading Actress: Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons - Whiplash
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Best Original Screenplay: Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Adapted Screenplay: Anthony McCarten - The Theory of Everything
Best Original Music: Alexandre Desplat - The Grand Budapest Hotel
EE Rising Star Award: Jack O'Connell
Best Animated Film: The Lego Movie
Best Documentary: Citizenfour
Best Film Not in the English Language: Ida
Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer: Stephen Beresford, David Livingstone - Pride
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki - Birdman
Best Special Visual Effects: Paul Franklin, Scott Fisher, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter - Interstellar
Best Production Design: Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Costume Design: Milena Canonero - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Makeup and Hair: Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Sound: Thomas Curley, Ben Wilkins, Craig Mann - Whiplash
Best Editing: Tom Cross - Whiplash
Best Short Film: Boogaloo And Graham
Best Short Animation: The Bigger Picture
BAFTA Fellowship: Mike Leigh
Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema: BBC Films.
There is something particularly unnerving about demon possession. It's the idea of something you can't see or control creeping into your body and taking up residence eventually obliterating all you once were and turning you into nothing more than a sack of meat to be manipulated. Then there's also the shrouded ritual around exorcisms: the Latin chants the flesh-sizzling crucifixes and the burning Holy Water. As it turns out exorcism isn't just the domain of Catholics.
The myths and legends of the Jews aren't nearly as well known but their creepy dybbuk goes toe-to-toe with anything other world religions come up with. There are various interpretations of what a dybbuk is or where it comes from — is it a ghost a demon a soul of a sinner? — but in any case it's looking for a body to hang out in for a while. Especially according to the solemn Hasidic Jews in The Possession an innocent young person and even better a young girl.
The central idea in The Possession is that a fancy-looking wooden box bought at a garage sale was specifically created to house a dybbuk that was tormenting its previous owner. Unfortunately it caught the eye of young Emily (Natasha Calis) a sensitive artistic girl who persuades her freshly divorced dad Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Watchmen and Grey's Anatomy) to buy it for her. Never mind the odd carvings on it — that would be Hebrew — or how it's created without seams so it would be difficult to open or why it's an object of fascination for a young girl; Clyde is trying really hard to please his disaffected daughters and do the typical freshly divorced parent dance of trying to please them no matter the cost.
Soon enough the creepy voices calling to Emily from the box convince her to open it up; inside are even creepier personal objects that are just harbingers of what's to come for her her older sister Hannah (Madison Davenport) her mom Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) and even Stephanie's annoying new boyfriend Brett (Grant Show). Clyde and Stephanie squabble over things like pizza for dinner and try to convince each other and themselves that Emily's increasingly odd behavior is that of a troubled adolescent. It's not of course and eventually Clyde enlists the help of the son of a Hasidic rabbi a young man named Tzadok played by the former Hasidic reggae musician Matisyahu to help them perform an exorcism on Emily.
The Possession is not going to join the ranks of The Exorcist in the horror pantheon but it does do a remarkable job of making its characters intelligent and even occasionally droll and it offers up plenty of chills despite a PG-13 rating. Perhaps it's because of that rating that The Possession is so effective; the filmmakers are forced to make the benign scary. Giant moths and flying Torahs take the place of little Reagan violently masturbating with a crucifix in The Exorcist. Gagging and binging on food is also an indicator of Emily's possession — an interesting twist given the anxieties of becoming a woman a girl Emily's age would face. There is something inside her controlling her and she knows it and she is fighting it. The most impressive part of Calis's performance is how she communicates Emily's torment with a few simple tears rolling down her face as the dybbuk's control grows. The camerawork adds to the anxiety; one particularly scary scene uses ordinary glass kitchenware to great effect.
The Possession is a short 92 minutes and it does dawdle in places. It seems as though some of the scenes were juggled around to make the PG-13 cut; the moth infestation scene would have made more sense later in the movie. Some of the problems are solved too quickly or simply and yet it also takes a while for Clyde's character to get with it. Stephanie is a fairly bland character; she makes jewelry and yells at Clyde for not being present in their marriage a lot and then there's a thing with a restraining order that's pretty silly. Emily is occasionally dressed up like your typical horror movie spooky girl with shadowed eyes an over-powdered face and dark clothes; it's much more disturbing when she just looks like an ordinary though ill young girl. The scenes in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn look oddly fake and while it's hard to think of who else could have played Tzadok an observant Hasidic Jew who is also an outsider willing to take risks the others will not Matisyahu is not a very good actor. Still the filmmakers should be commended for authenticity insofar as Matisyahu has studied and lived as a Hasidic Jew.
It would be cool if Lionsgate and Ghost House Pictures were to release the R-rated version of the movie on DVD. What the filmmakers have done within the confines of a PG-13 rating is creepy enough to make me curious to see the more adult version. The Possession is no horror superstar and its name is all too forgettable in a summer full of long-gestating horror movies quickly pushed out the door. It's entertaining enough and could even find a broader audience on DVD. Jeffrey Dean Morgan can read the Old Testament to me any time.