BAFTA Awards: Nomadland and director Chloe Zhao make history with top honours

Nomadland has been crowned the big winner at this year’s BAFTA Awards, taking home the gongs for leading actress, best film and a history-making best director award.

It was also a great night for British star Daniel Kaluuya, who can now add a best supporting actor BAFTA to his Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice and Screen Actors’ Guild Awards for his role as Black Panther deputy chairman Fred Hampton in Judas And The Black Messiah.

Debut writer and director Emerald Fennell‘s Promising Young Woman also did well, picking up the prizes for best original screenplay and best British film.

Emerald Fennell accepts the BAFTA for outstanding British film for Promising Young Woman. Pic: BAFTA/ Reuters
Emerald Fennell was shocked as she accepted her second award for Promising Young Woman. Pic: BAFTA/ Reuters
Daniel Kaluuya wins best supporting actor at the BAFTAs. Pic: BAFTA/Reuters
Daniel Kaluuya adds a BAFTA to his awards collection. Pic: BAFTA/Reuters

But the night belonged to Nomadland, with director Chloe Zhao becoming only the second woman to win the BAFTA for best director for the film, which stars Frances McDormand as a woman living in her van as she embarks on a journey across the American West.

The first female winner was Kathryn Bigelow, who took the gong in 2010 for The Hurt Locker, making Zhao, who was born in China, the first woman of colour to win the award.

Accepting the best film prize, Zhao said: “We would like to dedicate this award to the nomadic community who so generously welcomed us into their lives.

“They shared with us their dreams, their struggles and their deep sense of dignity. Thank you for showing us that aging is a beautiful part of life, a journey that we should all cherish and celebrate.

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“How we treat our elders says a lot about who we are as a society and we need to do better.”

The BAFTA ceremony, which was delayed by two months, was largely virtual this year, with only the hosts, Dermot O’Leary and Edith Bowman, presenters and performers appearing in person at the Royal Albert Hall.

It started with a tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, who died aged 99 on Friday, and was the first president of BAFTA, and later included an In Memoriam section honouring stars who have died in the past 12 months, including Dame Barbara Windsor and Sir Sean Connery.