Mendes rules across no man's landPeople | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 4 Feb 2020
Sweeping World War I odyssey 1917 won big at the Bafta awards, landing the best film prize and best director trophy for Sam Mendes and putting it in line for Oscars glory next weekend.
The movie, which follows two British soldiers on a mission across no man's land, had already scooped the Golden Globe for best drama and has 10 Academy Award nominations including for best picture.
It scooped seven of the nine prizes it was nominated for at Britain's top film awards, including in cinematography, production design, sound and special visual effects.
"It's moving for me to get this in my hometown," said Mendes, the first British winner of the best director Bafta since Danny Boyle prevailed in 2009 for Slumdog Millionaire.
"Thank you to all the people who have gone to see this in cinemas," he added at London's Royal Albert Hall.
Five movies filled the best film and best director nominations. Joining 1917 and Mendes were Joker (Todd Phillips), South Korean comedy-thriller Parasite (Bong Joon Ho), The Irishman (Martin Scorsese) and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino.
The night was anti-climatic for the latter two: Tarantino's comedy-drama won just one award - Brad Pitt, for best supporting actor - while Scorcese's crime flick finished empty-handed.
But the night was perhaps equally disappointing for Joker, which led the way with 11 nominations but ended up with just three prizes, including Joaquin Phoenix for best actor. He beat Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) as well as Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Taron Egerton (Rocketman) and Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes).
Renee Zellweger claimed best actress award for her portrayal of Judy Garland's late-life comeback tour in Judy, marking a stunning renaissance for her own wide-ranging career.
Meanwhile, Laura Dern won the best supporting actress gong for Netflix's divorce tearjerker film Marriage Story.
The awards from the 6,500-member British Academy of Film and Television Arts are often seen as indicative of how the Oscars will go in Los Angeles on February 9.
But this year's list faced criticism for lacking ethnic diversity among acting nominees. All 18 were white.
And Phoenix took aim at "systemic racism" within the industry in his acceptance speech.
"I think that we send a very clear message to people of color that you're not welcome here."