Many of the technical prizes were handed out on Saturday, with the main awards still to be presented on Sunday.
Riz Ahmed, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Kirby and Daniel Kaluuya are among the stars up for acting awards.
Both halves of the ceremony are being presented from the Royal Albert Hall, but winners are appearing virtually.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom stars Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman as members of a 1920s blues band.
Other winners included Rocks, a low-budget British film starring a group of teenage girls, many of whom had not acted before; Christopher Nolan’s time-bending thriller Tenet; and Mank, in which Gary Oldman plays Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J Mankiewicz.
The winners from the first night were:
- Casting – Rocks
- Costume design – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
- Make-up and hair – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
- Production design – Mank
- Sound – Sound of Metal
- Special visual effects – Tenet
- British short film – The Present
- British short animation – The Owl and the Pussycat
- The winners and nominees in full
Noel Clarke – the Kidulthood, Bulletproof and Doctor Who actor – was also presented with the outstanding British contribution to cinema award.
He dedicated it to “my young black boys and girls out there that never believed it could happen to them”.
The Duke of Cambridge had been due to appear in a pre-recorded segment, but pulled out following the death of his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh. Host Clara Amfo paid tribute to Prince Philip, who was Bafta’s first president from 1959-66.
On Sunday, prizes including best film, director, screenplay and animated feature will be handed out, as well as the acting awards.
This year’s shortlists include a diverse line-up of talent, following an outcry last year when voters only nominated white actors.
This time, 16 of the 24 acting contenders come from minority ethnic backgrounds.
Two films lead the overall field with seven nominations each – Rocks and Nomadland, which stars Frances McDormand as a US woman living a nomadic life in a van after the financial crash.
While the nominees will all appear remotely on Sunday, stars including Hugh Grant, Tom Hiddleston, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Phoebe Dynevor will be at the London venue to announce the winners.
They will be joined by fellow award presenters Chiwetel Ejiofor, Cynthia Erivo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Richard E Grant, Felicity Jones, Asim Chaudhry, James McAvoy, David Oyelowo, Pedro Pascal and Jonathan Pryce.
Rose Byrne, Andra Day, Anna Kendrick and Renee Zellweger will announce some winners from Los Angeles.
Sunday’s ceremony will be hosted by Edith Bowman and Dermot O’Leary, and will be broadcast on BBC One from 19.00-21.00 BST.
Following the lack of diversity last year, a seven-month review led Bafta to introduce more than 120 changes to its voting, membership and campaigning processes.
They included the introduction of a new longlist round of voting, the expansion of the outstanding British film field to 10 nominations, and increasing all four acting categories and best director to six nominees in an attempt to ensure greater diversity.
This year’s Baftas were delayed by two months because of the pandemic, and come two weeks before the awards season reaches its climax with the Oscars.
Unlike the Baftas, the Oscars organisers want nominees to appear in person, and will have a London venue for the first time for UK-based contenders.