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‘Nomadland’ wins big at BAFTAs

Western takes 4 awards, including best picture, director

Director Chloe Zhao (left) appears with actress Frances McDormand on the set of “Nomadland.” Zhao, became only the second woman to win the best director trophy at the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday, and star Frances McDormand was named best actress. Associated Press file photo

LONDON (AP) — Gig-economy Western “Nomadland” won four prizes including best picture on Sunday at the British Academy Film Awards, which were handed out during a pandemic-curbed ceremony that recognized a diverse array of screen talent.

“Nomadland” filmmaker Chloe Zhao became only the second woman, and the first woman of color, to win the BAFTA for best director, and star Frances McDormand was named best actress. “Nomadland” also took the cinematography prize.

Emerald Fennell’s revenge comedy “Promising Young Woman” was named best British film, while the best actor trophy went to 83-year-old Anthony Hopkins for playing a man grappling with dementia in “The Father.”

An event that was criticized in the recent past with the label #BAFTAsSoWhite rewarded a diverse group of talents, including Black British star Daniel Kaluuya, newcomer Bukky Bakray — who shone as a London teenager in “Rocks” — and veteran Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn.

The fact that Britain remains under coronavirus lockdown measures, with its movie theaters still closed, gave the evening a poignant tone, as did the death on Friday of Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, a longtime patron of the British film academy.

Prince William, who had been due to attend and make a speech in his role as president of Britain’s film academy, was absent following the death of his grandfather. The ceremony opened with a tribute to Philip, who was the academy’s first president in 1959.

Presenters including Hugh Grant, Tom Hiddleston, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Priyanka Chopra Jonas announced the winners from the stage of London’s Royal Albert Hall, but recipients accepted their honors remotely, and there was no black-tie audience to cheer them on.

“Nomadland” stars McDormand as a middle-aged woman who travels the American West while living out of her van and picking up short-term work.

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