Bafta winners downplay Oscar talk

The Academy Awards are now just two weeks away. Speaking at this year's Baftas, however, the lucky winners would not be drawn on their Oscar chances.

Kate Winslet with her parents Sally and Roger
Winslet's parents Sally and Roger were present to see her named best actress
Having triumphed at the Baftas, Kate Winslet, Mickey Rourke and Slumdog Millionaire's director Danny Boyle must surely be hoping that Oscar glory will follow.

Speaking backstage at the Royal Opera House in London, though, all three maintained they were taking things one ceremony at a time.

"I think it would be wrong to hope for anything beyond this point," said Winslet as she clutched the second Bafta mask of her career.

"The girl from Reading will always be in me," she continued. "These are dreams that, as a kid, I wouldn't even dare to dream."

"Obviously we are very privileged to have got that recognition," said Boyle of the 10 Academy Award nominations his film received last month.

However, the Manchester-born director preferred to concentrate on the "wonderful" seven prizes his film had just earned.

Rourke, meanwhile, said he would not be upset if the best actor Oscar went to his main rival, Milk star - and good friend - Sean Penn.

"If I am down there clapping for Sean it's okay with me," he smiled, revealing a gold tooth every bit as lustrous as his latest accolade.

'Quiet night'

"If it ain't this year I will come back next year, or the year after that."

Heavy rain failed to dampen spirits on the Bafta red carpet, thankfully free of the soapy suds that swamped it when 2002's event suffered similarly inclement weather.

Danny Boyle
Danny Boyle kisses one of the seven Baftas won by Slumdog Millionaire
"There's a good atmosphere this year," said Irish actor Brendan Gleeson, whose dark comedy In Bruges took home the best original screenplay prize.

The party continued inside for the cast and crew of Slumdog Millionaire as it won five of the first nine awards.

"It's been a quiet night for us tonight," deadpanned cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, one of several technicians to be recognised for his work on Boyle's film.

"I know it seems as if one ought to get used to it," said Simon Beaufoy, whose Slumdog script landed the best adapted screenplay award.

"But a few months ago we were looking at a film that was not even coming out in the States in cinemas."

His, however, was just one of several homegrown success stories to be celebrated at this year's event.

Animator Nick Park - who already has his name on five Bafta masks - swelled his tally further with an award for his most recent Wallace and Gromit short.

'Good ideas'

There were also gongs for artist Steve McQueen, recognised for his debut movie Hunger, and director James Marsh, whose documentary Man on Wire was crowned best British film.

Inspired by Philippe Petit, the Frenchman who famously wire-walked between the Twin Towers in New York in 1974, the film might not seem an obvious choice for such an accolade.

Terry Gilliam
Gilliam paid tribute to Heath Ledger, with whom he worked on two films
According to Marsh, though, it showed UK film-makers were "alive to good ideas and good stories, whoever might bring them our way."

The evening ended with Monty Python alumnus and "full-time Brit" Terry Gilliam receiving the Bafta fellowship award, the most prestigious honour in the Academy's gift.

Proud as he was, however, the director of Time Bandits and Brazil admitted he had had some reservations about accepting it.

"It is very strange because I feel like I am suddenly being respected," said the American-born 68-year-old, who arrived sporting an Order of Lenin medallion he claimed to have bought in Moscow for 25 cents.

"I don't like that. It is not a good feeling. I still like the idea of being able to outrage people."

The film-maker went on to say how happy he was that the late Heath Ledger had been named best supporting actor for The Dark Knight.

"Heath was a genius," he said of the actor, with whom he had been working at the time of the Australian star's death last year.

"Frankly, it would have been nice if he had won more awards when he was alive.