London: Meryl 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 actress lost a stiletto shoe on her way to the stage and struggled to keep her composure.
“That couldn’t be worse!” a leading daily has quoted her a saying as she reached the podium.
‘The Devil Wears Prada’ star 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.
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.
In the words of Bafta host Stephen Fry, Streep should now be known as “Maggie Thatcher, trophy snatcher”.
‘The Iron Lady’ also won the best hair and make-up award.
However, 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.
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.”
‘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.