Golden glory fell on the most unexpected places in London last night as the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) anointed its annual favorites.
Atonement was the surprise loser of the night: it won Best Film, but missed out in 12 categories, only taking one other award. Best Actor went – as expected – to Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood, but in the night's biggest shock, Best Actress skipped veteran Julie Christie for Marion Cotillard's performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose.
La Vie en Rose picked up three other awards (music, costume and make-up), making it one of the most successful foreign language films at the BAFTAs ever. It was The Lives of Others, however, which took home Best Foreign Language Film. The story of a relationship cracking under the strain of late 1980s Stasi spying in East Germany, it can add last night's trophy to its 2007 Oscar.
Despite winning Best Film, Atonement did not win Best British Film, which went to Shane Meadows' This Is England. The film is another English period piece, only set in the rough inner city of the 1980s, rather than Atonement's glamorous countryside of the 1930s, and dealing with racism, not romance. Atonement had been expected to pick up awards ranging from top prizes – James McAvoy and Keira Knightley were both nominated for the leading actor categories – to technical classes, but it came away largely empty-handed.
Sir Anthony Hopkins Daniel Day-Lewis
Cate Blanchett was the victim of a double disappointment, losing to Cotillard for Best Actress and Tilda Swinton for Best Supporting Actress. Swinton stars as an immoral corporate lawyer in Michael Clayton opposite George Clooney, who himself lost to Day-Lewis. Javier Bardem won Best Supporting Actor for No Country for Old Men, which also won Best Director for the Coen Brothers and Best Cinematography.
Mono Ghose, who is the director of Maverick Films, said he thought Atonement was not necessarily the best film of the year: "Atonement is a worthy film but - and I hate to say it, being English - personally lacked the naked charm and visceral magnetism of the US films - There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men."
"I think Atonement – albeit beautifully crafted – failed where the latter two films succeeded, in moving cinema forward this year in terms of character-based storytelling and subversions of the mainstream."
The Academy Fellowship, a lifetime achievement award, was given to Sir Anthony Hopkins, who won a Best Acting Oscar for Silence of the Lambs in 1992 and has two BAFTAs.
With the mixed fortunes of most films last night, there are still no clear indications as to who stands the best chance of picking up that most coveted of prizes at the end of February, the Best Picture Oscar.