Gut-wrenching World War I epic 1917 was the big winner at Sunday’s British Academy Film Awards, winning seven prizes including best picture and best director. Sam Mendes’ drama about one of the most devastating conflicts in British history bested hotly tipped American contenders including Joker, The Irishman, and Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood at a glitzy London event that was overshadowed by criticism of the nominees’ lack of diversity—even from some of the nominees themselves, the AP reports. 1917 was also named best British film and won the cinematography prize—Roger Deakins’ fifth win in that category. It also took home trophies for production design, sound, and visual effects.
Joaquin Phoenix was named best actor for Joker. Renee Zellweger won the best actress prize for the Judy Garland biopic Judy. Victory at the British awards, known as BAFTAs, is often a good predictor of success at Hollywood’s Academy Awards, being held this year on Feb. 9. Like the Oscars, the British awards have struggled to become less male and white. No women were nominated as best director for the seventh year running, and all 20 nominees in the lead and supporting performer categories were white. Phoenix slammed the lack of diversity in his acceptance speech, saying it sent "a very clear message to people of color that 'You’re not welcome here.'" The British Academy has promised to review its voting procedures.
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