By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com March 25, 2013 at 10:01AM
Thought the awards season was long done? Not quite. Last night saw the 18th annual Jameson Empire Awards, presented annually by the UK film magazine, the biggest in the world, and one of the largest such ceremonies to have their winners voted for by the public. This year, there's been a big push for more recognition for the ceremony, with probably the starriest and glitziest evening in recent memory, and we were there last night to see the winners revealed.
Comic Ed Byrne was on MC duties, and it kicked off with a brace of genre awards; James Watkins' "The Woman In Black" picking up Best Horror, Ian McKellen accepting Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy for "The Hobbit," Norwegian film "Headhunters" a surprise victor in the Best Thriller category, seeing off "Skyfall," and megahit "Ted" picking up Best Comedy, with comedian Johnny Vegas delivering a hilarious, cutting 'acceptance' on behalf of Seth MacFarlane, claiming the writer/director/Oscar host supported slavery, and closing by saying "He had sex with his mum on a regular basis in the graveyard where his dad's buried."
From there, they looked to the future: Philip Askins won the 'Done In 60 Seconds' Award for his minute-long animated recreation of "Blade Runner" (watch it below). Then there were the newcomers awards; "The Impossible" star Tom Holland picking up Best Male Newcomer (thanking Stephen Daldry, who cast Holland in "Billy Elliot" on stage at the start of his career), and "Les Miserables"' Samantha Barks taking the female equivalent.
Then, the first two of the evening's four career-achievement awards. Kevin Spacey, f-words flying, presented the 'Inspiration Award' to his "American Beauty" director Sam Mendes, with the "Skyfall" helmer listing his own inspirations, including Stanley Kubrick, Billy Wilder, Akira Kurosawa, Martin Scorsese, The Coen Brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson, Ingmar Bergman, Bob Fosse and more (watch the whole of his excellent speech here). Then James Watkins was back on stage, giving the 'Hero Award' to his "Woman In Black" star Daniel Radcliffe.
It continued to be a good night for "Skyfall," which took Best Director for Mendes (who gave a shout out to Roger Deakins on stage, saying "it's a crime he hasn't won an Academy Award"), and Best Film, but in the happiest upset of the night, it was beaten to Best British Film by Ben Wheatley's "Sightseers." Seemingly the entire cast and crew took to the stage, a clearly stunned Wheatley saying "I'm completely confused by this... I'm having a meltdown." An otherwise-engaged Jennifer Lawrence took Best Actress (for "The Hunger Games," rather than "Silver Linings Playbook"), while Martin Freeman took Best Actor for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" -- jokingly saying "I always wondered if it was possible to quantify who the best actor was, and now I know it is, and it's me. What a load of old rubbish I was [nominated] with."
Finally, two bona fide icons were awarded. Unsurprisingly, given the year he's had, Danny Boyle picked up the Outstanding Contribution Award from his "Sunshine" star Mark Strong, and highlighted some of the British films he'd featured during the opening ceremony of the Olympics, including "A Matter Of Life and Death," "My Beautiful Launderette," "Don't Look Now," "Kes" and "Chariots Of Fire," saying of them "They're wonders, and they're waiting for you all."
And finally Helen Mirren, who's currently appearing on stage reprising the role of the Queen in "The Audience," picked up the Legend Award, and proved to be the highlight of the night, telling the audience, who were giving her a standing ovation: "Sit down! I feel more like a legover than a legend." Excellently, Mirren also used the occasion to highlight that Mendes' influences he named earlier in the evening were all men. it wasn't an attack on the director, as some have painted it, but more a way to highlight the gender imbalance that still exists within the industry.
All in all, while it was commercially minded by definition, it was still a boozy and unpretentious antidote to awards season, though we still think it might make more sense for it to be held closer to the Oscars. Read the full list of winners below, and you can watch the speeches and more over at Empire.
"The Woman In Black"
Best Sci-Fi Fantasy
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
Best Male Newcomer
Best Female Newcomer
Done In 60 Seconds Award
Philip Askins ("Blade Runner")
The Art Of 3D Award
Best British Film
Sam Mendes - "Skyfall"
Martin Freeman - "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
Jennifer Lawrence - "The Hunger Games"
Empire Inspiration Award
Empire Hero Award
Outstanding Contribution Award
Empire Legend Award
Dame Helen Mirren