Ben Stiller, Warren Beatty, others toasted at saucy, sincere Britannia Awards


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Movie stars are shuttled to so many glamorous red-carpet events during awards season it can be a challenge to remember the significance of each boozy get-together.

Just ask Ben Stiller. On Wednesday night at the Britannia Awards in Beverly Hills, the actor was honored by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, whose Los Angeles branch gave him the Charlie Chaplin award for excellence in comedy. He was one of five entertainment world fixtures to receive prizes at the ceremony, which also feted Warren Beatty, Helena Bonham Carter, Pixar chief John Lasseter and director David Yates.


Stiller -- who was introduced by his “Tropic Thunder” costar Robert Downey Jr. -- spent most of his acceptance speech making jabs at BAFTA and its relative obscurity stateside. When he heard he’d won a prize from the organization, he joked, he wondered if BAFTA stood for “Black Astronauts Flight Training Association.”

“Then they told me, ‘Ben, it’s an awards show, and it’s going to be broadcast on the TV Guide Channel,’” he said, meaning to refer to the TV Guide Network, which will televise the ceremony on Sunday. “And I said, ‘Say no more. You had me at broadcast. You really had me at TV Guide Channel. I’ve been looking to break into half the TV screen for a long time.’”

Though the Britannias are held by BAFTA, they honor performers and executives from any country -- just so long “as they can speak English like a normal person,” kidded the evening’s emcee, Alan Cumming.

The event, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, had a casual vibe, with both presenters and honorees interspersing their speeches with expletives. Helen Mirren, who gave Bonham Carter the prize for British artist of the year, called her the goddess of “couldn’t give a [expletive]-dom” before complimenting her outlandish fashion sense and ‘bird’s nest’ hairstyle.

But others were more earnest on stage, like Yates -- who received a special video message from absent “Harry Potter” stars Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint.

“I don’t feel I’ve really started yet,” said Yates, who directed four films about the boy wizard, upon receiving his John Schlesinger Award for excellence in directing. “I just feel like a new filmmaker.” Lasseter got emotional when giving praise to late Pixar founder Steve Jobs, with whom he said he shared the Albert R. Broccoli Award for worldwide contribution to filmed entertainment prize.


Beatty, meanwhile, received tributes from filmmaker Barry Levinson and “Bulworth” co-star Oliver Platt, who urged the 74-year-old actor to “get off your [behind] and start making movies again.” From the podium, the actor -- who won the Stanley Kubrick Award for excellence in film -- gave thanks to his sister, Shirley MacLaine, as well as wife Annette Bening, both of whom were in the audience.

He called Bening “the person whose presence in my life has made clearer and clearer through the years that which is the most important thing in life -- which is my one and only, magnificent Annette.”

Cue the cooing from the ballroom.


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-- Amy Kaufman