`The Lord of the Rings,' Dench, Crowe top British Academy Film Awards - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

`The Lord of the Rings,' Dench, Crowe top British Academy Film Awards

LONDON (AP) _ Epic fantasy reigned supreme at the Orange British Academy Film Awards, where ``The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring'' won five Baftas, including best film and best director for New Zealander Peter Jackson.

The movie, based on the first part of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy, has the most nominations for next month's Oscars in Los Angeles with 13.

Russell Crowe won the best actor honor on Sunday for playing schizophrenic mathematician John Nash in ``A Beautiful Mind.'' Judi Dench won for best actress for playing celebrated novelist Iris Murdoch, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, in ``Iris.''

``We had the most wonderful time doing (the film) contrary to what you might see on screen,'' a clearly moved Dench told the black tie audience at the Odeon Leicester Square cinema. Her award came as somewhat of a surprise; fellow nominee Sissy Spacek has dominated this season, winning Golden Globe and American Film Institute awards for ``In the Bedroom.''

While Dench's screen husband in ``Iris,'' Jim Broadbent, lost in the best actor category, he won a supporting-actor Bafta for playing the furious showman in Baz Luhrmann's ``Moulin Rouge.''

In accepting the award, Broadbent paid tribute to Luhrmann, whose failure to get a best-director Oscar nomination has caused an industry stir. Broadbent said Luhrmann ``is a complete visionary genius. ... The world would be a duller place without 'Moulin Rouge.'''

The supporting-actress prize went to Oscar front-runner Jennifer Connelly, who plays Crowe's wife in ``A Beautiful Mind.'' The lone American nominee against four Englishwomen, Connelly said she was ``really shocked and very much honored'' to win. ``The women in this category are truly extraordinary.''

Besides the multiple wins for ``The Lord of the Rings,'' including a special audience award voted by the public, the Baftas were spread among numerous films. ``Moulin Rouge'' received two awards in addition to Broadbent's, while Robert Altman's England-based ``Gosford Park'' and the sleeper French success ``Amelie'' also won two.

While it wasn't that long ago that the Baftas came after the Academy Awards in the United States, resembling an Oscar also-ran, the shift in timing to earlier in the year has made the London awards an essential stop on the pre-Oscar circuit.

That helps explain the hefty attendance of Hollywood names, including Crowe, Connelly, and Spacek, as well as presenters Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman and Halle Berry. (Spacey also was a nominee, for ``The Shipping News.'')

All of them had to walk a soggy red carpet to get into the theater on a rain-drenched night, with Spacey asking from the stage, ``What was that horribly soapy stuff?'' coming off the carpet.

The Academy Fellowship _ Bafta's highest honor _ went to actor-director-producer Warren Beatty. Receiving the night's sole standing ovation, Beatty told the audience that he made his first film in England in 1961 _ when his wife, actress Annette Bening, was 3.

Other special awards went to the filmmaking triumvirate of director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant, and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, who long have specialized in screen adaptations of classic British novels, including ``The Remains of the Day'' and ``Howards End.''

Sunday's event was the first of five awards ceremonies presided over annually by Bafta, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Since 1998, the mobile phone company Orange has sponsored the ceremony, with the name changed officially to the Orange British Academy Film Awards in 2000.
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