When "Chariots of Fire" writer Colin Weiland announced on stage at the 1982 Oscars that "The British are coming!," it went on to live in infamy; the British failed to come, and the U.K. film industry continued on much as it had before. But if David Seidler or Tom Hooper had exclaimed the same at the Academy Awards this February, there might have been less egg on their face -- the victory, and huge box office success of "The King's Speech" has been a precursor to the best year for British film that we can remember.
From dark, literary dramas like "We Need To Talk About Kevin" and "Jane Eyre" to instant genre classics like "Attack the Block" and "Kill List," festivals and arthouses have been lit up with a series of acclaimed British-backed films, and it's converting to box office success as well -- of the three top-grossers in the U.K this year, two, "The King's Speech" and "The Inbetweeners Movie," are independent British films. As such, you'd expect the line-up of nominations for the 14th Moët British Independent Film Awards to be a strong one. And indeed it is.
The field is led by "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," "Shame" and "Tyrannosaur," which all have seven nods a piece, while "We Need To Talk About Kevin" and "Kill List" managed six, and "Submarine" picked up 5. The latter two both missed out on nominations for the top prize, with Asif Kapadia's smash hit documentary "Senna" sneaking in with a nomination for Best British Independent Film, breaking out of the doc ghetto as it's managed to do ever since its unveiling at Sundance in January.
"The Guard," "Coriolanus," "Attack the Block" and "Weekend" all deservedly figured in several categories as well. We've got a couple of quibbles here, most notably that "Weekend," arguably the best, and certainly the most truly independent, eligible film, only picked up two relatively peripheral nods, with Andrea Arnold's masterful (albeit divisive) "Wuthering Heights" shut out altogether, while Dexter Fletcher's winning debut "Wild Bill" only got one nomination.
So what does this mean for the awards race in general? In all likelihood, not a lot. The awards, run by the Raindance Institute, don't figure heavily in the minds of Academy members. What it can do, however, is highlight individuals. With the ceremony taking place on December 4th, an ad saying that "Senna" has won Best Documentary, or Olivia Colman Best Actress might certainly encourage a voter to check out their screener. Similarly, it can help with the sense of momentum -- "The King's Speech" sweeping the board last year was an early victory in a season that eventually saw Hooper's film beat "The Social Network" to the big prize.
It's important to note that from this point on, the awards function more like a festival jury or critic's circle than, say, the BAFTAs -- a panel of filmmakers, actors, and random celebrities, this year including David Thewlis, Ruth Wilson, "The Infidel" helmer Josh Appignanesi and radio DJ Edith Bowman, pick the winners. As such, it's a hard thing to call, but still, check out the full list of nominees, with our commentary, below. The ceremony will be held on December 4th, so we'll be back with the winners then. [indieWire]
Best British Independent Film
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
"We Need To Talk About Kevin"
The nod for "Senna" is a show of the strength of feeling towards the project, a huge hit in the U.K. It won't win, but it's looking like something close to a lock for a Best Documentary nod at the Oscars, although arguably not worthy enough to win. Otherwise, any of the other four are plausible winners, and this list should be a pretty strong mirror of the Best British Film category at the BAFTAs.
Should Win: "Shame"
Will Win: "We Need To Talk about Kevin"
Ben Wheatley -- "Kill List"
Steve McQueen -- "Shame"
Tomas Alfredson -- "TInker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Paddy Considine -- "Tyrannosaur"
Lynne Ramsay -- "We Need To Talk About Kevin"
Great to see Wheatley among the more established, reputable names here; a sign of greater things to come. Another tough category, but despite McQueen's win of the Debut Director prize three years ago for "Hunger," we think Ramsay will edge it, although BAFTA will likely favor 'Tinker Tailor' over 'Kevin,' particularly as Ramsay doesn't have much chance across the pond. We do mourn the absence of "Weekend" director Andrew Haigh here, but that's a recurring theme across the list.
Should Win: Tomas Alfredson
Will Win: Lynne Ramsay
The Douglas Hickox Award [Best Debut Director]
Joe Cornish -- "Attack The Block"
Ralph Fiennes -- "Coriolanus"
John Michael McDonagh -- "The Guard"
Richard Ayoade -- "Submarine"
Paddy Considine -- "Tyrannosaur"
Interestingly, a crop of names well-established in other fields, even if they weren't directors. Cornish and Ayoade both would be deserving winners, but with a BAFTA win for his short under his belt, Considine has the edge.
Should Win: Richard Ayoade
Will Win: Paddy Considine.
John Michael McDonagh – "The Guard"
Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump – "Kill List"
Abi Morgan, Steve McQueen – "Shame"
Richard Ayoade – "Submarine"
Lynne Ramsay, Rory Kinnear – "We Need To Talk About Kevin"
Only "Shame" and 'Kevin' stand a chance at this prize elsewhere on the awards circuit, although both are arguably outsiders. Everything here would make sense, but we think the colorful dialogue of "The Guard" could play well with the panel.
Should Win: "We Need To Talk About Kevin"
Will Win: "The Guard"
Rebecca Hall -- "The Awakening"
Mia Wasikowska -- "Jane Eyre"
MyAnna Buring -- "Kill List"
Olivia Colman -- "Tyrannosaur"
Tilda Swinton -- "We Need To Talk About Kevin"
The film has its flaws, but we're delighted to see Rebecca Hall sneak in here for "The Awakening" -- as you'll note from our review, she's terrific in the film, even when it gets a bit silly. Also great to see MyAnna Buring in here -- her turn as the Lady Macbethish moll in "Kill List" isn't the showiest, but she's wonderful, and we worried it might be overlooked. Really, though, this category is all about Olivia Colman. A win here would make her close to a front-runner at the BAFTAs, which would help her long-shot chances of an Oscar nod no end. Worth noting that Michelle Williams in "My Week With Marilyn" was eligible, but missed out -- is this the first sign that it's not as locked-in to the Academy Awards as many have assumed?
Should Win: Olivia Colman
Will Win: Olivia Colman
Brendan Gleeson -- "The Guard"
Neil Maskell -- "Kill List"
Michael Fassbender -- "Shame"
Gary Oldman -- "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Peter Mullan -- "Tyrannosaur"
Oldman and Fassbender are both looking likely (if not locked) Oscar candidates, and both should figure into the BAFTAs. We suspect Fassbender has the edge here, although Mullan or Gleeson could be surprise winners.
Should Win: Michael Fassbender
Will Win: Michael Fassbender
Best Supporting Actress
Felicity Jones -- "Albatross"
Vanessa Redgrave -- "Coriolanus"
Carey Mulligan -- "Shame"
Sally Hawkins -- "Submarine"
Kathy Burke -- "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
A slightly odd category, with the mostly-retired-from-acting Burke recognized (not undeservedly) for a one-scene cameo, while we suspect that Jones' nod here is more of a recognition of her "Like Crazy" break-out than anything else. Mulligan could surprise with a win, but in a rare crossover with Oscar, we think Redgrave will inch it.
Should Win: Carey Mulligan
Will Win: Vanessa Redgrave
Best Supporting Actor
Michael Smiley -- "Kill List"
Tom Hardy -- "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Benedict Cumberbatch -- "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Eddie Marsan -- "Tyrannosaur"
Ezra Miller -- "We Need To Talk About Kevin"
A well-earned two-fer for 'Tinker Tailor,' although we're ripping our vests in anguish at the absence of stand-out Mark Strong. Nice to see the erstwhile Tires-from-"Spaced" Michael Smiley pick up a nod too. With the 'Tinker Tailor' vote being split, however, We Need To Talk About Ezra.
Should Win: Benedict Cumberbatch
Will Win: Ezra Miller
Most Promising Newcomer
Jessica Brown-Findlay -- "Albatross"
John Boyega -- "Attack the Block"
Craig Roberts -- "Submarine"
Yasmin Paige -- "Submarine"
Tom Cullen -- "Weekend"
Not a lot to disagree with here; we're especially glad of the first of two nods for Andrew Haigh's superb "Weekend." We'll see plenty more of all five of these names in years to come, so it's tough to make a pick, but, while "Downton Abbey" star and ingenue-of-the-moment Brown-Findlay has a decent chance, the sheer screen presence of the young star of "Attack the Block," now working with Spike Lee, should see him through.
Should Win: John Boyega
Will Win: John Boyega
Best Achievement In Production
A tricky category, that rewards ingenuity and resourcefulness in low-budget filmmaking, this was picked up last year by Gareth Edwards' "Monsters," about as solid-gold an achievement in the category as you could ask for. This year, it sees the only award that David Mackenzie's weak rom-com "You Instead" will ever be nominated for, but strictly speaking, it's the most deserving winner -- it was shot in only a few days, at a major Scottish music festival, which is pretty impressive. The more well-liked "Weekend" will likely take it, though.
Should Win: "You Instead"
Will Win: "Weekend"
Best Technical Achivement
Chris King, Gregers Sall -- Editing -- "Senna"
Sean Bobbitt -- Cinematography -- "Shame"
Joe Walker -- Editing -- "Shame"
Maria Djurkovic -- Production Design -- "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Seamus McGarvey -- Cinematography -- "We Need To Talk About Kevin"
Combining most of the technical crafts into one category is always going to make it more competitive, but this is about as packed a line-up as we can ever remember here; each one of the nominees could have won in a previous year. This honestly could go to anyone, but we're feeling a good year for 'Kevin' in general, and the blood-red images of McGarvey's compositions should linger in the jury's mind.
Should Win -- Maria Djurkovic -- "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Will Win -- Seamus McGarvey -- "We Need To Talk About Kevin"
"Hell and Back Again"
"Life in A Day"
"TT3D: Closer To The Edge"
A slightly disappointing, populist line-up here, as far as we're concerned, but then we're in the minority that found "Senna" a decent sports documentary, but not much more. That film should have it locked down, however. This is a category that could be replicated at the Oscars -- "Project Nim" has a good chance at a nod there, and "Hell and Back Again," as a war doc, fits that category's voters mindset well (although we're not sure if it's Oscar-eligible.
Should Win: "Project Nim"
Will Win: "Senna"
Best British Short
"Love At First Sight"
Well, who knows. "0507" is a brisk, funny little number from the Blaine Brothers about a man trying to remember his girlfriend's birthday. "Chalk," directed by BAFTA-winner Martina Amati, premiered in Berlin this year, and follows two rival gymnasts. The retirement-home set "Love at First Sight" is a tender romance, with a big-name cast -- John Hurt and Phyllida Law. "Rite" has a BAFTA nomination already, so could either be a front-runner, or seen as already rewarded, while the 30 minute made-for-TV "Rough Skin" stars BAFTA winner Vicky McClure ("This is England '86").
Should Win: ?
Will Win: "Chalk"
Best Foreign Independent Film
"The Skin I Live In"
An interesting, diverse mix, even if an oddity of eligibility sees "Animal Kingdom" crop up two years after its Sundance premiere. Bearing in mind than an English-language film hasn't won in a decade, we're going to say that "A Separation," arguably the Foreign Language Oscar front-runner, stands a pretty good chance here.
Should Win: "A Separation"
Will Win: "A Separation"
The Raindance Award
"Acts of Godfrey"
"A Thousand Kisses Deep"
A celebration of genuinely skin-of-the-teeth low-budget films, generally the area of films that barely get a theatrical release in the UK, let alone anywhere else, the most high-profile past winner was "Kill List" director Ben Wheatley's debut "Down Terrace." Here, we've got the Simon Callow-starring "Acts of Godfrey," performed entirely in rhyming couplets, "Black Pond," which marked the comeback of disgraced UK comic Chris Langham ("The Thick of It"), haunted-tree horror "Hollow," Iraq-set drama "Leaving Baghdad" and thriller "A Thousand Kisses Deep," with a high-profile cast including Dougray Scott, Jodie Whittaker and David Warner. Considering how well it went down at parent company the Raindance Film Festival, we think "Black Pond" is a likely winner, but that's sight unseen, it should be noted.
Should Win: ?
Will Win: "Black Pond"