Though Stephen Fry spent 12 years hosting the BAFTA Awards, 2018 took a different route. New host Joanna Lumley emceed the event, opening it by pointing to the resonance of the Suffragettes. “A century ago, the Suffragettes laid the ground work for the kind of dogged resistance and powerful protest that has carried forward today with the Time’s Up movement, and with it the determination to eradicate the inequality and abuse of women the world over,” Lumley said.
Beyond that, though, Lumley steered the evening away from the political, preferring to stick with her signature “daarlings”—even though Time’s Up dominated the ceremony, inspiring actresses to wear black, and actors, for the most part, to wear Time’s Up pins across their lapels.
The winning speeches predominately referenced and framed themselves within the movement, taking time to call out injustice and discrimination—some with more success than others.
And in a similar spirit to the Golden Globes, some actors opted to bring political guests in lieu of family members or partners. Actress Andrea Riseborough chose to bring UK Black Pride co-founder Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, while Gemma Arterton, who starred in 2010's Made In Dagenham, brought two of the original 1968 Dagenham Ford factory pay campaigners, Gwen Davis and Eileen Pullen.
Prince William and Kate Middletonattended the ceremony, with the Prince presenting Sir Ridley Scott with his BAFTA Fellowship, the greatest honor bestowed by the academy. Kate eschewed the black dress code, instead wearing a dark green dress with a black ribbon belt. (As Bethan Holt, fashion news and features director at The Telegraph, told BBC News: "The Royal Family very rarely get involved in political messaging, so perhaps it's not such a surprise that she didn't join in with the rest of the women and wear black tonight."
Frances McDormand wore a kaleidoscope of colors to accept her best actress award, but nevertheless told the audience: "As Martin [McDonagh] said, I have a little trouble with compliance. But I want you to know I stand in full solidarity with my sisters tonight in black. I also want to say that I appreciate a well-organized act of civil disobedience. I'm thrilled that activists all over the world have been inspired by the set decoration of three billboards* in Martin's film, and have taken to the streets and let it be a part of the positive public discourse that's happening." The latter comment was a reference to the campaigners who have used the protest method her character employs in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as inspiration, both to call for gun control in the U.S. and to seek justice for those killed in London’s Grenfell Tower fire.
Three Billboards was the evening’s big winner, taking home the coveted best film award, as well as supporting actor for Sam Rockwell and screenplay for writer/director McDonagh. McDonagh also used his stage time to frame the film within the current political climate: "Our film is a hopeful one in lots of ways, but it's also an angry one, and as we've seen this year, sometimes anger is the only way to get people to listen and to change,” He added, “What I’m most proud of, especially in this Time’s Up year, is it is a film about a woman who refuses to take any more shit.”
Other big winners included Gary Oldman—who took home the best actor prize for playing Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, a very British role in a very British film—and The Shape of Water, which took three trophies, including best director for Guillermo Del Toro.
After the awards, guests were chauffeured by Audi to the Grosvenor House Hotel for the night’s official dinner. Each table featured designs from the five films that were up for best picture; one, for instance, reimagined Three Billboards, replete with three red billboards growing out of its center. As McDormand by table, she stopped at the site and gave a big thumbs up, announcing how “cool!” the design looked.
Ukrainian ballet dancer Sergei Polunin was sitting nearby; Helena Bonham Carter clocked him as she walked by, announcing “This is too good an opportunity to pass up; I need a selfie,” before proceeding to take a snap.
As the dinner wound down, guests ventured to the Grey Goose BAFTA Awards after party at the newly renovated Soho House. The multi-floored Soho club heaved with Hollywood heavyweights, including Allison Janney, Margot Robbie, Jamie Bell, Kate Mara,Will Poulter, Saoirse Ronan, Isabelle Huppert, Willem Dafoe, Salma Hayek, Michael Sheen, Martin Freeman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. The evening, perhaps, was best summarized by Timothée Chalamet, the Oscar nominee from Call Me By Your Name and co-lead of Lady Bird. All he could say: “It has been a crazy, crazy, crazy year. I can’t believe I am here. It’s surreal.”
Get Vanity Fair’s HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:Social Light: The Grey Goose BAFTA Awards After-PartyBridget ArsenaultBridget Arsenault is the London correspondent at vanityfair.com and worked in Vanity Fair’s London office from 2009 to 2016, before which she completed her Master’s at Oxford University.