On a snowy night in the city, in a ceremony held at the Mayfair Hotel, the London Critics' Circle expressed their admiration for Michael Haneke's "Amour" by awarding it three prizes: Film of the Year, Actress of the Year for Emmanuelle Riva and Screenwriter of the Year for Haneke. The victories add a nice head of steam to "Amour"'s awards-season campaign, with Riva in particular getting a boost in the run-up to the BAFTAs and Oscars.
"The Master", which had been neck and neck with "Amour" with seven nominations, claimed wins for Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman respectively as Actor of the Year and Supporting Actor of the Year. Neither was on hand to receive their prizes in person, although Phoenix did send an eccentric thank you that was read out by Kate Muir, the film critic for the London Times (it's transcribed in full below, along with the other main acceptance speeches).
Peter Strickland's "Berberian Sound Studio" won The Attenborough Award for British Film of the Year, while the film's star Toby Jones was presented with British Actor of the Year, triumphing over Daniel Day-Lewis for "Lincoln" and Daniel Craig for "Skyfall". British Actress of the Year went to Andrea Riseborough for "Shadow Dancer"; she was home with the flu, nominating last year's winner in the same category, Olivia Colman, to pick up her gong and read out her thank you message.
Ang Lee was honoured with Director of the Year for "Life Of Pi," triumphing over Haneke, Kathryn Bigelow and Paul Thomas Anderson. Lee's film also collected the Technical Achievement Award for visual effects. Supporting Actress of the Year went to Anne Hathaway for "Les Miserables." Producer Debra Hayward accepted the award on Hathaway's behalf, reading out a thank you text from the actress.
Tom Holland was named Young British Performer of the Year for his role in "The Impossible," while Breakthrough British Film-maker was awarded jointly to Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, the stars and co-writers of "Sightseers" (IFC are releasing the black comedy stateside in May). Foreign Language Film of the Year went to Jacques Audiard's "Rust And Bone" and Bart Layton's "The Imposter" received Documentary of the Year.
The London Critics' Circle honourary prize, the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film, was given to Helena Bonham Carter, who joins previous recipients Dirk Bogarde, Judi Dench and Nicolas Roeg. Mike Newell, who directed the actress in last year's "Great Expectations," presented Bonham Carter with her award. "This feels better than a bad review, I can tell you that," said Bonham Carter, who also directed thanks to "the father of my bastards," Tim Burton, sitting in the audience. "I've spent a lot of my life with bad-review depression... Next time I get a bad review, I can stroke this and feel alright."
ACCEPTANCE SPEECH HIGHLIGHTS:
Anne Hathaway – Supporting Actress of the Year, "Les Miserables" (text message):
"It's lovely to receive this award and I wish I could be there in person. Please thank the London Critics' Circle for deeming my performance worthy of distinction… I send thanks to Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan at Working Title for being cool yet passionate yet reasonable yet ever so slightly prone to concern, which in turn inspires courage and a certain degree of awe from collaborators. And finally thank you also to Tom Hooper, our visionary director. Be well and thank you."
Joaquin Phoenix – Actor of the Year, "The Master" (written message):
"I struggle with the idea of winning awards for acting. Stating I'm Best Actor for something as subjective as film seems strange to me. To the uninitiated it implies I'm solely responsible for the creation and implementation of the character. I am not. I suppose that's why we thank our colleagues. There are those who you all know such as Paul Thomas Anderson, to whom I am eternally grateful – a man who has persistently searched for the truth. I am fortunate to have been under his guidance. Philip Seymour Hoffman for his patience and advice. Amy Adams for being angry. Megan Ellison and everyone at Annapurna for their support of the film and ensuring that I was able to cover my mortgage. But there are many others who you do not know by name such as Mike Kenna, who I believe was the grip but he did 20 different jobs so I can't be sure; Adam Somner, the first assistant director; Karen Ramirez in the office; Tommy – I don't know your last name… there are too many to list. The truth is, you cannot separate my work from their's. We were a unit bolstered by the same goal: to do our part in helping Paul to achieve his vision. I view this award as recognition of all of our work. I am very cognisant of the fact that for me this award is an encouragement to continue my lifelong passion of being an actor. I will not squander this high regard. P.S. There's an up-and-coming actor named Daniel who's in a movie called Lincoln. You should check it out."
Michael Haneke – Film of the Year, "Amour" (filmed message):
"How to thank you. I'm taken aback to have been awarded this prize because when we made the film it isn't something we thought about. But it's very flattering and very lovely that it's been so well received by the critics."
Ang Lee – Director of the Year, "Life Of Pi" (written message read out by actor Rafe Spall):
“Thank you. I am truly honoured to receive this award from the London Critics' Circle. You already honoured me for "Brokeback Mountain" and now "Life Of Pi". From cowboys in love to a boy and a tiger on the same boat may seem like a stretch for one director but I am reminded that it is here in England where I first fully stretched myself, leaving my background far behind as I went back in time to Jane Austen's world in "Sense And Sensibility". Every film is a journey to a strange place, with odd fellow travellers, and in the end none more so than "Life Of Pi". It's an incredible story but no story speaks for itself. Stories and films truly come alive when they are shared with an audience. Your generous praise has helped this happen and I am truly grateful and humble."
33rd LONDON CRITICS' CIRCLE FILM AWARDS WINNERS IN FULL: