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Graham Norton- Opening Speech, EE British Academy Film Awards in 2020

2 February 2020

Opening Speech by Graham Norton at EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 

GRAHAM NORTON: Hello.  Hi.  Hi.  Hi.

Good evening, everybody, and welcome to the EE British Academy Film Awards.  Thank you for joining us for this auspicious star-studded celebration of cinema in all its forms, whatever that means.

I'm Graham Norton, your host for this evening, which means there's more than one Irishman here tonight that seems to go on and on.

Now, this is lovely, isn't it?  Look at us gathered here in the breathtaking Royal Albert Hall.  Stunning, I think we can all agree.  Well, maybe not Prince William; he's just thinking, "Bit poky, could knock through".  

Royalty is here, and why not, because it's the BAFTAs!  Tonight it's the BAFTAs!  The glamour, the excitement, the length.

Now, I should add, don't be too concerned tonight because you are in safe hands.  I'm not going to be mean to anyone, because you might know in my other job I'm a chat show host, which means apparently I have never seen a film I didn't really enjoy.  It's true.  I loved Cats.  No, I did.  Not even joking.  It was brilliant.  Cats, but with hands.  So clever.  I loved it.

Prizes for acting.  It's not that hard.

Now, a huge thank you must be made to all our American friends for making the effort to come here tonight, because, you know, I know, it takes ages to sail across the Atlantic, doesn't it?  Thank you for caring.  It's the eco awards, ladies and gentlemen.  This year BAFTA have asked us to make sustainable fashion choices.  Old clothes.  I have.  I really have.  Fun fact: this jacket is older than Florence Pugh.  I'm not even joking.  It really is, Florence.  It really is.  

So many young nominees.  It's fantastic.  Not just Florence; there's Jessie Buckley, Taron Egerton, Saoirse Ronan.  I look at you guys, and I can't help but think: oh, if only I'd been born 30 years earlier; I would be dead now and not eaten away by bitterness and jealousy.

2019, though, what a year in film.  I think it will be remembered as the year when white men finally broke through.  Yes.  They did it.  What am I talking about?  We did it.  High-five.  High-five.  

Yes, a bit of chat about the old white male privilege, and you can sort of see why.  I mean, 11 nominations for Joker, which is essentially the story of a white man who makes himself even whiter.  Yes.  Wonderful Jojo Rabbit nominated.  What a film.  An adorable, heroic child, a cartoonish monster.  It's like when Greta Thurnberg met Trump.

Other great films nominated tonight: 1917, Two Popes, and the incredible Parasite.  Oh, so good.  It really is.  I was thrilled to hear of Parasite's nominations, though at first I did think it was a new category for agents.

And how brilliant was Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, ladies and gentlemen?  Oh.  It takes a nostalgic look back at the Hollywood of 50 years ago.  What we saw was a misogynistic, male-dominated industry, resistant to change.  Taking a nostalgic look back at 50 years ago.  

Hey, and The Irishman.  Ten nominations, ladies and gentlemen.  Also released on Netflix, prompting the director, Martin Scorsese, to implore people to respect the film by not watching it on their phone.  Didn't really need to worry; I mean, whose battery lasts that long?

Time to commence the célébration du cinéma.  Let's take a look back at the year in film.