“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams said Harrison Ford is “the kind of movie star they just don’t make any more,” while Amy Schumer deadpanned, “I want to thank God; and by ‘God,’ I mean Meryl Streep.”
The occasion was Friday’s BAFTA-LA Britannia Awards, with Ford, Schumer and Streep among the six honorees.
Streep, given the Stanley Kubrick Brittania Award for excellence in film, was introduced by Stephen Frears, her director on the upcoming Florence Foster Jenkins pic. He said working with her confirmed everything you’ve heard: “She’s magical.”
The actress in turn praised the “irascibly brilliant Stephen Frears” and said he follows the tradition of people like Kubrick, who was a transformative artist. She said the previous Kubrick recipients were notable and she was “honored to join this distinguished group of men and … (pause) men.”
Emotional highlight was the humanitarian award to Orlando Bloom; his work with UNICEF was saluted by presenter Robert Downey Jr. and, on videotape, Bloom’s “Lord of the Rings” colleagues Peter Jackson and Ian McKellen. Bloom in turn said the real heroes are the tireless UNICEF workers; he pointed out that 246 million children now live in war-torn countries.
James Corden, named British Artist of the Year, began by saying “It’s humiliating how emotional I feel,” and he then urged strong funding for the National Theatre and BBC, which both gave him career breaks. He then went into a killer comedy routine, including jokes about a fellow recipient having the hots for him: “Streep, you’re an animal!” Corden’s award was presented by Bryan Cranston, who told funny anecdotes about his first encounters with Corden.
Saoirse Ronan gave the John Schlesinger directing award to Sam Mendes, who listed several directors including Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg, concluding “They all still shoot on film — there is a reason.”
Schumer, given the Charlie Chaplin comedy award, said she felt a kinship with Chaplin: “People also referred to him as the little tramp.” Her award was presented by Seth MacFarlane.
Finale was the Albert R. Broccoli trophy “for worldwide contribution to entertainment” to Ford, who gave the briefest speech of the evening, saying he was honored and humbled for the recognition.
Host Jack Whitehall got in multiple zingers. He saluted Cranston’s range, transitioning from “Malcolm in the Middle” to “Breaking Bad.” He added that no other actor could go so easily from loving sitcom dad to sociopath, unless you’re talking about Bill Cosby.
The six honorees had been named in advance. The awards began in 1989, honoring a single recipient; the Britannias expanded to multiple honors a decade later.
This was the fifth consecutive year at the Beverly Hilton.
Amy Schumer, Charlie Chaplin Award for Comedy winner
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