All Eyes On Cue: The Best of the 2021 BAFTA Awards

The 74th British Academy of Film and Television Arts—or the BAFTA awards—were held at the Royal Albert Hall in London,


The 74th British Academy of Film and Television Arts—or the BAFTA awards—were held at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and aired Sunday, April 11 on BBC America. Following last year’s #BaftaSoWhite scandal, the BAFTAs attempted to present a more diverse list of both nominees and winners. In case you missed it, here’s a breakdown of the winners, fashion, tributes and speeches from the prestigious awards show.

But First, The Tributes

The awards ceremony started with a tribute video acknowledging the lives lost in the film and television industry. To illustrate, the video mentioned over 40 names: writers, actors, directors and technicians that make cinema what it is today.

The first mention was of course, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who was actually BAFTA’s first president (1959-1966). “The Duke of Edinburgh occupies a very special place in BAFTA history and he will be missed” says host Dermot O’Leary. “Our thoughts are with the royal family.” Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari star and winner of multiple awards, says “I would like to express my condolences for your Duke of Edinburgh.”

Additionally, other screen icons mentioned in the video included Rishi Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Chadwick Boseman, Sean Connery, and Kirk Douglas. The late rapper DMX was mentioned in the tribute video too. Bukky Bakray, Rising Star ward, pays tribute to him during her acceptance speech. “I want to say sleep well to DMX.”

Diverse List of Winners

Black Panther Star Chadwick Boseman

The BAFTAs aren’t the first to try and save face after being notoriously known for lacking diversity. They are, however, changing their ways by including more representation and diversity this year. Celebrating the best of film from 2020 and early 2021, here’s a short list of some winning nominees. The Best Film award was given to Nomadland, a drama film directed, written, edited and produced by Chloe Zhao. In fact, Nomadland scored four wins for this year’s BAFTAs.

The award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer went to His House, by Remi Weeks. This film falls under the drama/horror category, and the plot follows a refugee couple fleeing a war-torn South Sudan. In addition to this, Weekes, a black British director, won four British Independent Film Awards for the same work. The award for Best Supporting Actress wentto Yuh-Jung Youn for her performance in Minari. Daniel Kaluuya, of Judas and the Black Messiah, won the award for Best Supporting Actor. Kaluuya is a black English writer and actor famously known for his roles in the film Get Out and Black Panther.

It’s also worth mentioning that the film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom—starring the late Chadwick Boseman—won two awards. The film is a biopic of Gertrude ‘Ma’ Rainey a blues singer from the 1920. It won the Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hair awards. Additionally, the award for Best British Short Film went to Farah Nabulsi for her short film, “The Present.” Also, Rocks actress Bukky Bakray won the award for EE Rising Star. Bakray, being 19 years old, is the youngest person to win the BAFTA Rising Star award.

Savvy, Quip-Ridden Speeches

Speeches are often the most entertaining part of an awards show. The speeches from the BAFTA awards in particular, were something else. As stars and talents in the diverse sector finally have some spotlight, they shared heartfelt messages in their speeches.

One particular speech that instantly circulated the internet was Youn’s made after accepting her Best Supporting actress award. Visibly grateful for her award, the South Korean actress makes a hilarious dig at Brits as she thanks Britain’s ‘snobby people’ during her speech. She then, however, adds “You have a long history and your pride. Being an Asian woman, I thought, ‘these people are very snobbish.’ That’s just what I felt, that’s my honest feeling.”

The Palestinian director Nabulsi wrote her film The Present in the setting of Arab-Israeli conflict. After accepting her Best British Short Film award, Nabulsi dedicates her award to the people of Palestine. “For anyone who has seen The Present … you would know why I dedicate this award to the people of Palestine for whom freedom and equality is long, long overdue … ,” says Nabulsi  In like manner, Weekes also shares a warm message to the world. Weekes’ speech is dedicated to minorities who are more often than not, left out of recognition. “This is for the immigrants, migrants, and asylum seekers—the Black, Brown and Queer people who have nurtured me and lifted me up in my life.”

Fashionably Great

Renee Zellwegger BAFTA

Though the red carpet may have been virtual this year, the looks definitely didn’t disappoint. In fact, since a virtual awards show keeps the eyes focused especially on the outfits, then the emphasis on fashion is that much more immaculate. 

Actress Renée Zellweger—who presented the Leading Actor BAFTA—wore a gorgeous skin-tight, silver, off-shoulder Giorgio Armani gown. Her wavy, short hair flaunted bouncy curls and she wore elegant makeup. The Bridget Jones Diary star accessorized with one single bangle and pointy nude heels. Singer/songwriter and actress Andra Day rocked the red carpet with a glamorous green, Elie Saab backless gown detailed with a gold chain link. Day accessorized her look with oversize hoops and her hair half-up.

Australian actress Rose Byrne was the woman in black, wearing a sleek, two-piece Miu Miu fit. Byrne wore her hair slicked back and was bare from accessories, going for a more simple look. She wore black, open-toe heels to match.  Actress Anna Kendrick brought the Hollywood flair to the red carpet when she wore a flowy, thigh-split, burgundy Zuhair Murad gown. The gown was cinched at the waist, showing off her curvature. The Pitch Perfect star wore a smokey-eye to match her dramatic ensemble.

Other Award Shows To Look Out For

Golden Globes

It’s clear that this year, the BAFTA awards pushed for diversity more than ever before. Just a year after their dreaded hashtag fiasco, BAFTA did some cleaning up and finally recognized the talents achievable by minorities. Do you think they deserve the praise for doing so, or is their plan to follow suit merely a population contest?

With the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Grammy Awards out of the way, what else is left? Well, just this month in April we have two upcoming award shows: The Independent Spirit Awards (April 24), and the Academy Awards (April 25). Be sure to check out the upcoming awards for the flair, emotions, and speeches that come with them.