Gromit Pulls Off BAFTA Coup

Mark up another major score for animation. The clay-animated Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit from Aardman Animations and DreamWorks Animation beat out a field of live-action heavy hitters to snag the Alexander Korda Award for Outstanding British Film of the Year at the Orange British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA). The awards ceremony was held on Sunday, Feb. 19, at the Odeon Leicester Square in London.

Produced by Peter Lord, David Sproxton, Nick Park, Steve Box, Mark Burton and Bob Baker, Were-Rabbit was was a bit of a dark horse in the race, which included BBC Films’ A Cock & Bull Story, United International Pictures’ The Constant Gardener, Path’s Festival and United International Pictures’ Pride & Prejudice.

Accepting the award, Park was genuinely surprised that his movie was chosen over so many “proper” films, as he put it. Proof of the U.K.’s pride in Aardman, its Pixar, The BAFTA win joins a growing list of kudos the plasticine pic has scooped up this awards season. The Annie Award sweeper’s next conquest just may be the Oscar, which will be presented on March 5.

The team of Joe Letteri, Christian Rivers, Brian Van’t Hul and Richard Taylor stomped the competition in the Special Visual Effects category. Universal’s King Kong from producer/director Peter Jackson made monkeys of fellow nominees Disney’s The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Warner Bros. hits Batman Begins, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Batman, Charlie, Potter and Kong were also up for the award for production design, which ended up going to Goblet.

The Short Animation Film award was presented to Tomek Baginski’s Fallen Art, a macabre vision of art meeting madness on an abandoned military base in the South Pacific. Also nominated in the category were Anthony Lucas’ Annecy Grand Prix-winning short epic The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, Osbert Parker’s Film Noir, Sumito Sakakibara’s Kamiya’s Correspondence and Run Wrake’s Rabbit. Jasper Morello, which was picked up by Monster Distributes, will compete for the Oscar next month.

The Film of the Year BAFTA went to Paramount Pictures’ Brokeback Mountain, which led a flock that included Sony Pictures’ Capote, United International Pictures’ The Constant Gardener, Lions Gate’s Crash and Warner Independent Pictures’ Good Night, and Good Luck.

A full list of 2006 BAFTA film award winners can be found at www.bafta.org/site/page287.html.