The 2017 BAFTAs are almost underway, with the ceremony beginning at 7:00pm GMT here at the Royal Albert Hall. This concert hall in South Kensington marks a change of venue for the BAFTAS, which have been presented at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden for decades. That change in tradition can be felt in the unsettled mood of all of the staff working the event, as well as the journalists, reporters, camera-crews and presenters in attendance.
Having collected our press passes to the respective areas to which we were granted access, there were a fair few of us wandering the circular hallways (or singular, eternal hallway) of the cylindrical monument to Queen Victoria‘s husband, Prince Albert. I shan’t use the word ‘lost,’ but when another journalist asked a member of staff in which direction the media centre was, several of us lingered nearby – only to be disappointed when said member of staff scratched his head, muttered into a radio and truthfully told the journalist ‘I think it’s somewhere in that direction, near door 12 – but I’m not sure.’
Even the most experienced reporters who have been working the BAFTAS for years, could not hide a lack of sure footedness. More than once I ‘accidentally’ ended up either on the red carpet or inside the auditorium itself. If I only I had pulled my phone out quickly enough to take a photo, before I was escorted away and finally given clear directions to the media centre.
Once there, I joined the other reporters in plugging in my laptop charger and helping myself to a cup of Earl Grey (what else?) provided for the press. A couple of journalists exchanged words of ‘what do we do now?’ as one said that ‘it all seems to be a lot of waiting around.’ Definite nerves could be felt in the Verdi Cafe, the media hub for the night.
Meanwhile, more experienced reporters chatted to one another about the upcoming ceremony, asking staff what time the show started and ended. WiFi issues were quickly sorted as handouts of the full list of attendees and nominees were passed around and the televisions flicked on.
A few of us younger reporters, not as experienced with this sort of thing as others, felt a buzz of excitement as we began to prepare for the night ahead. That excitement was still tinged with another mood, however, as the more experienced journalists seemed bored and uninterested as things officially kicked off. As what can only be described as a “Les Miserables”/”Labryinth” crossover inspired performance rolled out onto the red carpet to entertain the diligently-waiting audience, one journalist scoffed and said to another: ‘do you think they auditioned for “La La Land?”’
Nevertheless, more and more reporters rolled in, again all seeming unsure at this new work place for the media, filling up each seat and desk as interviews of past and present nominees were played on the television screens.
We all paused from typing on our laptops to watch a Tom Ford red carpet interview. The fashion designer-come-director, nominated for the BAFTA Best Director (for “Nocturnal Animals”) wears a burgundy, velvet dinner jacket and the media centre chuckled collectively as he told his interviewer to remove her black coat to reveal her ‘elegant’ gold and black evening gown, for the sake of her look. Ford, no matter where he goes, is obsessed with the aesthetic – the interviewer, of course, obliged: ‘when Tom Ford tells you to take your coat off, you take your coat off!’
Among others spotted on the way in: Eddie Redmayne is wearing a marvelous white suit jacket, Viola Davis is dazzling in a dress made from a mixture of shades of blue.
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films are faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before winners are announced on February 26 at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.