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‘Argo’ Wins Best Film Bafta; Affleck Named Best Director

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Photographer: Claire Folger/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. via Bloomberg

Ben Affleck directs and stars as Tony Mendez in "Argo." The film is written for the screen by Chris Terrio.

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Photographer: Claire Folger/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. via Bloomberg

Ben Affleck directs and stars as Tony Mendez in "Argo." The film is written for the screen by Chris Terrio. Close

Ben Affleck directs and stars as Tony Mendez in "Argo." The film is written for the screen by Chris Terrio.

Photographer: Farah Nayeri/Bloomberg.

Anne Hathaway cradles her Bafta for best supporting actress in "Les Miserables" as she answers reporters' questions. Hathaway won the same award at the Golden Globes in January 2013. Close

Anne Hathaway cradles her Bafta for best supporting actress in "Les Miserables" as she answers reporters' questions.... Read More

Photographer: Farah Nayeri/Bloomberg

Daniel Day-Lewis backstage at the Royal Opera House in London after winning the best actor Bafta for "Lincoln." Day-Lewis is also a best-actor nominee at the Oscars on Feb. 24, 2013. Close

Daniel Day-Lewis backstage at the Royal Opera House in London after winning the best actor Bafta for "Lincoln."... Read More

Photographer: Claire Folger/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. via Bloomberg

John Goodman, from left, Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck in "Argo." Affleck also directs the film. Close

John Goodman, from left, Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck in "Argo." Affleck also directs the film.

Photographer: Claire Folger/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. via Bloomberg

Zeljko Ivanek, from left, Matt Nolan, Titus Welliver, J.R. Cacia and Victor McCay in "Argo." The film is playing across the U.S. Close

Zeljko Ivanek, from left, Matt Nolan, Titus Welliver, J.R. Cacia and Victor McCay in "Argo." The film is playing across the U.S.

“Argo,” the story of a stealth mission to rescue a group of U.S. hostages from Iran in 1980, was voted best film at the British Academy Film Awards, or Baftas, last night. Its director Ben Affleck also won.

“Argo” had picked up prizes in the exact same categories at the Golden Globes in January. It is now one of nine contenders for best picture at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards, or Oscars, in Los Angeles on Feb. 24.

“I wanted to get as far away from Boston as I could, and ended up in Iran,” joked the bearded Affleck as he walked up the red carpet at London’s Royal Opera House. Flanking him all evening was George Clooney, also sporting a full beard, who, as “Argo” coproducer, won his first-ever Bafta.

The four runners-up for best film were “Les Miserables,” an adaptation of the hit stage musical; “Life of Pi,” the story of a man stuck on a lifeboat with a tiger; “Lincoln,” Steven Spielberg’s saga about the 16th president’s abolition of slavery; and “Zero Dark Thirty,” on the hunt for and killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Last night’s other big victors were Daniel Day-Lewis, for his role as President Abraham Lincoln in Spielberg’s 150-minute “Lincoln;” and the 85-year-old French actress Emmanuelle Riva -- who won in absentia -- for her part as the bed-ridden stroke victim in Michael Haneke’s “Amour.”

Diplomats Escape

“Argo” is the true story of six U.S. diplomats who manage to escape captivity in post-revolutionary Tehran by posing as a Canadian film crew. It’s based on the memoirs of CIA officer Tony Mendez (played by Affleck), who masterminded the mission.

Affleck said he initially went searching for Persian- speaking actors in Turkey until Clooney told him about the “massive” community of first- and second-generation Iranians in L.A.

“There were people who were doing theater, people who were doing films, people who stepped in ready to go,” Affleck told reporters backstage, as coproducers Clooney and Grant Heslov stood by. “We didn’t have to explain anything to them.”

“Even more important and more profound was, so many people who were part of this movie had gone through the experience of fleeing Iran,” he said.

Affleck, who was also on the best-actor Bafta shortlist for “Argo,” said the odds of any actor beating Day-Lewis were “400,000 to one.”

Spielberg Request

On the podium moments earlier, Day-Lewis said he initially turned away Spielberg because he didn’t feel compelled to impersonate the 16th U.S. president.

“At the time when he first presented it to me, not only did I not feel that need, but I thought quite positively that that would be a wonderful thing for somebody else to do,” said Day-Lewis, his thinning salt-and-pepper hair styled in a crew cut.

He eventually said yes because “there’s a need in you to express something of yourself through the life of another human being.”

Director Quentin Tarantino, who was a best-director nominee for his slavery-themed “Django Unchained,” scored a win for best original screenplay, while cast member Christoph Waltz bagged the best-supporting-actor prize.

Tarantino was asked whether, having attacked Nazis in “Inglourious Basterds” and slave owners in “Django,” he planned another movie that would visit vengeance on history’s bad guys.

Tarantino Trilogy

“I think there’s something about this that begs a trilogy,” said Tarantino, his black tie loosened over a wrinkled white shirt. “I don’t know what the third one’s going to be yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised.”

The best-supporting actress Bafta went to Anne Hathaway -- also a Golden Globe winner in the same category -- for her part as the impoverished Fantine in “Les Miserables.”

As ever at the Baftas, the weather was uncooperative. Non- stop rain left the red carpet soggy and paved with see-through umbrellas. One red-carpet TV reporter apologized for the climate as best-actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence headed in.

“It’s okay, it’s London!” cheered the now-blonde Lawrence, a dark coat bundled over her Dior gown. “The summers are wonderful, but February...”

Lawrence’s co-star in “Silver Linings Playbook,” best- actor nominee Bradley Cooper, appeared in the mandatory tuxedo - - a change from his sloppy look on screen.

“To be able to act in sweat pants and sneakers and a trash bag the whole movie was fantastic: It was very comfortable,” said Cooper, who was greeted with shrieks of “Bradley, Bradley” from drenched groupies.

Started in 1947 and honoring films produced worldwide and shown in U.K. cinemas, the Baftas are now held before the Oscars and get more attention as a gauge of the year’s standout titles.

Bafta winners

FELLOWSHIP -- ALAN PARKER

OUTSTANDING BRITISH CONTRIBUTION TO CINEMA -- TESSA ROSS

BEST FILM: ARGO, Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, George Clooney

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM: SKYFALL, Sam Mendes, Michael G.
Wilson, Barbara Broccoli, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan

OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER:
BART LAYTON (Director), DIMITRI DOGANIS (Producer), The Imposter

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE: AMOUR, Michael Haneke,
Margaret Menegoz

DOCUMENTARY: SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN, Malik Bendjelloul, Simon
Chinn

ANIMATED FILM: BRAVE, Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman

DIRECTOR: ARGO, Ben Affleck

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: DJANGO UNCHAINED, Quentin Tarantino

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, David O. Russell

LEADING ACTOR: DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, Lincoln

LEADING ACTRESS: EMMANUELLE RIVA, Amour

SUPPORTING ACTOR: CHRISTOPH WALTZ, Django Unchained

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: ANNE HATHAWAY, Les Miserables

ORIGINAL MUSIC: SKYFALL, Thomas Newman

CINEMATOGRAPHY: LIFE OF PI, Claudio Miranda

EDITING: ARGO, William Goldenberg

PRODUCTION DESIGN: LES MISERABLES, Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-
Robinson

COSTUME DESIGN: ANNA KARENINA, Jacqueline Durran

MAKE UP & HAIR: LES MISERABLES, Lisa Westcott

SOUND: LES MISERABLES, Simon Hayes, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson,
Jonathan Allen, Lee Walpole, John Warhurst

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS: LIFE OF PI, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume
Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, Donald R Elliot

SHORT ANIMATION: THE MAKING OF LONGBIRD, Will Anderson, Ainslie
Henderson

SHORT FILM: SWIMMER, Lynne Ramsay, Peter Carlton, Diarmid
Scrimshaw

THE EE RISING STAR AWARD (voted for by the public): JUNO TEMPLE

To contact the writer on the story: Farah Nayeri in London at Farahn@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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