BAFTA Awards Host Stephen Fry Praises Nominees, Presenters

by on December 23rd, 2010
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While a little playful teasing has become the standard for the hosts of award-show telecasts, as host of the 2012 Orange British Academy Film Awards, Stephen Fry took the opposite approach. Instead of poking fun, Fry waxed eloquent. In this way, he was the anti-Ricky Gervais, infamous for turning the Golden Globes ceremony into a roast.

Fry referred to one presenter as the “perfectly formed Paul Bettany.” He gave accolades to presenter Viola Davis, saying that, because of her acting abilities, critics were forced to “recallibrate their acclamations.”

Even more effusive was his introduction of Colin Firth, the presenter for Best Actress: “In an ideal world, to present the award, I would have been able to introduce last year’s winner of Best Actor, the star of “A Single Man,” “The King’s Speech,” and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” a man so brilliant, so talented and so successful that we would have been bowled over by his presence with us. But ladies and gentlemen, it turns out we do live in an ideal world because behold, the Colin they call Firth!”

Compare this to Ricky Gervais’ turn hosting this year’s Golden Globes Awards telecast. While he was more restrained than the previous year, he still crossed the line. Introducing two presenters, including “Bridesmaids” actress Melissa McCarthy, he said, “One defecated into a sink, which is still less demeaning than what most of you have done to make it in show business.” A reaction shot showed Selma Hayek looking offended.

Not all of Gervais’s barbs were aimed at specific people. Well into the telecast, he remarked, “Going well, isn’t it? So much better than last year’s audience. They had a right stick up their ass.” This was, of course, a reference to the fact that his tweaking of his audience the year before had made national headlines for its poor reception.

By contrast, the most negative thing Fry had to say all evening was decidedly mild-mannered. After Tom Jones performed the theme to “Thunderball” in honor of 50 years of the James Bond movie franchise, Fry remarked, “As a rule we don’t do musical song and dance numbers here at BAFTA because, let’s be honest, song and dance numbers at awards shows are usually a toe-curling, ear-wiggling, buttock-clenching, eye-watering embarrassment that make you want to chew your own legs off. But when it comes to the talent of Sir Tom and the celebration of 50 years of James Bond in cinema, well, we have an inception that shatters the rule.”

Gervais finished his hosting job with one last dig: “Hope the goody bags and the champagne and the gold took your mind off the recession for a little while.” Fry, instead, praised the nominees one last time and gave his best wishes for another record-breaking year of British cinema. Nice might not make headlines, but it does make both viewers and the audience smile.

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