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Tuesday 13th February, 2005
BACKSTREET ABORTION FLICK WINS BRIT BEST DIRECTOR
Although a global hit of staggering artistic achievement about the last twelve hours of Christ wasn’t even nominated, all was well with Brit thesps when they rewarded an agitprop movie about a woman who performed illegal abortions in grim 1950s England.
The pro-abortion cheerleading drama "Vera Drake" won three, including best director for Mike Leigh; while "The Aviator" soared Saturday at the British Academy Film Awards, taking four prizes including best film.

"The Aviator" — which has 11 nominations for the Feb. 27 Academy Awards had led the field with 14 nominations. But members of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts scattered the prizes widely.

While "Aviator" director Martin Scorsese and star Leonardo DiCaprio went home empty-handed, the film won a best supporting actress award for Cate Blanchett, as well as prizes for production design and best hair and makeup.

Imelda Staunton won best actress for her performance as a 1950s Cockney housewife who performs illegal abortions in "Vera Drake." The film also took the costume design prize.

"Mike Leigh is a genius, and working on this film was a dream come true," Staunton gushed in typical luvvie like fashion.

Leigh, whose victory drew a big cheer from the hometown lefty luvvies, said he was "overwhelmed."

"It's an immense privilege to have been allowed the freedom to make as uncompromising a film as I think we've made, and to make such an epic film with such a small budget," he said.

Jamie Foxx was named best actor for his uncanny depiction of singer Ray Charles in "Ray"; the film also won the award for best sound. British star Clive Owen was named best supporting actor for "Closer."

The British awards, known as BAFTAs, have become an important pre-stop since they were moved in 2000 from April to a February date, preceding the Academy Awards.

A clutch of Hollywood stars — including DiCaprio, Keanu Reeves, Richard Gere, Goldie Haw, Kurt Russell and model Claudia Schiffer — braved the rain and cold to walk up the red carpet in London's Leicester Square, watched by hundreds of fans.

The ceremony was hosted for the fifth time by bigheaded writer/director/performer/egotist/narcissist Stephen Fry, who welcomed guests to "London's litter-strewn West End."

"That should be glitter-strewn," he corrected.

The “let’s glorify a malignant terrorist” award went to Che Guevara-lite road movie "The Motorcycle Diaries" with two awards — best foreign-language film and best music.

Another double winner was the fractured and disappointingly tedious romantic comedy "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," which took BAFTAs for editing and for Charlie Kaufman's original screenplay.

The prize for best adapted screenplay went to Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor for the wine-tasting comedy "Sideways."

"My Summer of Love," Pawel Pawliowski's bittersweet tale of romance between two teenage girls, was named best British film. The Orange Film of the Year prize — the only award decided by the public — went to "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." Presenter Mischa Barton (news), one of the stars of the TV show about southern California's Orange County "The OC," drew a laugh by calling the prize the "Orange County Film Of The Year."

The awards — officially the Orange British Academy Film Awards — are sponsored by mobile phone company Orange.
"I'm green with envy over your dress sense Mike."


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