Feb 26, 2012

The Bloggies: 1st Annual British Film Bloggers Circle Awards Winners

Well, now we can officially bring down the curtain on Award Season 2012.
...What do you mean there are still more ceremonies to come? Shut up, this is the important one.

The British Film Bloggers Circle is a brand new body bringing together the best film bloggers in the UK (and me, apparently their selection procedures were a bit lax) and this is our launch event, the first Bloggies, so, congratulations to all the films and people that won a (currently to my knowledge completely non-existent) prize.

While I did vote in the awards almost none of my picks were nominated, and almost none of my picks from the nominees won, so here are the results with a little entirely personal commentary (not indicative of or endorsed by any of the other members of BFBC) and, after the winners, my personal nominating ballot.

Film: Drive
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Drive was one of the most popularly acclaimed films of 2011, particularly among the online film press, so these awards don't surprise me. Personally though, I was disappointed by Drive when I saw it for a second time, I had really liked it first time round, but on a second look it felt like a largely empty exercise in style over substance to me. Fantastic soundtrack, a few great scenes, but it just didn't hold up.

Actor: Jean Dujardin
Is The Artist quite as good as it's supposed to be? Perhaps not, but it's certainly a great time at the movies and Jean Dujardin is one of the major reasons why. His deft performance captures the acting style of the late silent era when his character is on camera, but gives way to something more subtle when he isn't playing to a gallery (be that a full cinema or his wife). A performance full of detail and nuance, even in its broadest moments.

Actress: Tilda Swinton
Okay, look, like any sane person who loves movies, I adore Tilda Swinton, she's one of the most exciting, most daring and most talented actresses working... BUT, there was probably no critically acclaimed film I enjoyed watching less in 2011 than We Need to Talk About Kevin. Swinton was unquestionably the best thing about it, but even she was far from her hugely impressive best, and frankly I could fill this category twice over with better female performances from the last 12 months. She's not bad - she's likely incapable of being truly bad - but it's a million miles from her best work in a truly irritating film.

Supporting Actor: tie between Ezra Miller and Christian Bale
This is the first category where I really don't get the results. The others, whether I voted for them or not, I can kind of see the arguments, but Ezra Miller's performance was one of the main reasons I so disliked We Need to Talk About Kevin. I hated his nuance free depiction of Kevin, which made the film play - along with Lynne Ramsay's sledgehammer use of symbolism - like a cartoon about a born evil. I preferred Christian Bale's work in The Fighter, but again, it got nowhere near my ballot, and never stuck out as among his best work for me.

Supporting Actress: Berenice Bejo
I would have liked to have found room on my nominating ballot for Bejo, but the sheer amount of great female performances this year left her out in the cold.  Which is not say I have any sort of problem with this winner either as a whole or in this specific category.  Bejo is so warm, so much fun, so expressive and engaging as Peppy Miller that not only do you forget that she's not actually in The Artist all that much, not only do you want more of her, if you're anything like me you find yourself emerging from the cinema wanting to track down Beauty Mark, before remembering that neither it nor Peppy are real.

Best original screenplay: tie between The Artist and Midnight in Paris
Confession time. I haven't seen Midnight in Paris. I know it's supposed to be Allen's best for ages, but people have said that about everything he's made for the past 15 years (except, to be fair, Cassandra's Dream) and the abysmal You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger put me off this one. I'll have to catch it at some point I guess. However, I'm very pleased to see that both the Bloggies and other awards have recognised that a screenplay is more than dialogue, and that The Artist is a beautifully written movie as much as it is a beautifully played one.

Best adapted screenplay: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
I don't have a whole lot to say about this award. Tinker Tailor's screenplay struck me much as the film as a whole did; as something incredibly well crafted, for which I had tremendous respect, but by which I was never particularly engaged. That said, I struggled with my screenplay nominations this year, and really couldn't find more than a handful of scripts I thought were outstanding.

Best film not in the English language: The Skin I Live In
The fact that I haven't discovered Pedro Almodovar (which isn't to say I haven't seen plenty of his films) is one of those things that niggles at me and makes me feel like I'm not a proper film critic. I was hoping The Skin I Live In, as his most genre driven film for years, perhaps ever, would redress the balance, but despite Elena Anaya's excellent performance and the film's stunning visuals, I wasn't convinced by it, finding the structure (which left acres of backstory that I had already guessed to take up the whole of the film's second half) a particular problem. That said, it's an Almodovar I may well revisit at some point, because I think I should like it more, but it was a million miles from being the best foreign language film of 2011, I doubt it would even make my Top 10.

Best British film: Submarine
Erm. Bugger. To be honest, I should have included this on my list of nominations but, in a year in which I struggled to find British films to nominate, I just plain forgot Richard Ayoade's sharp, sensitive, bittersweet and very funny debut. It's a shameful oversight on my part. That said I'd still have voted for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, had it been nominated.

Breakthrough: Jessica Chastain
This time last year I had never even heard her name now she seems to me, both in terms of her astonishing ethereal beauty and of her tremendous versatility as an actress, to be the heir apparent to Sissy Spacek. 2011 was Jessica Chastain's year, she cropped up in what seemed like dozens of films and was utterly different in each. I've not seen The Debt yet but in Tree of Life, Take Shelter, Coriolanus, The Help, Texas Killing Fields and Jolene (which I saw despite it not having come out in the UK yet) she was never less than convincing, never the same twice. If there is justice the world will be at her feet in 2012, she's the most impressive and exciting new talent I've seen for some time, and I can't wait to see what she does next.

In each category my top choice is listed first.

Best Film
Love Like Poison

Best Director
Lars Von Trier: Melancholia
Denis Villeneuve: Incendies
Terence Malick: Tree of Life
Sion Sono: Cold Fish
Celine Sciamma: Tomboy

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Michael Shannon: Take Shelter
Michael Fassbender: Shame
Peyman Moaadi: A Separation
Brad Pitt: Tree of Life
Jean Dujardin: The Artist

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Lubna Azabal: Incendies
Kirsten Dunst: Melancholia
Ariane Labed: Attenberg
Clara Augarde: Love Like Poison
Jessica Chastain: Tree of Life

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
John Hawkes: Martha Marcy May Marlene
Stefano Cassetti: Love Like Poison
Albert Brooks: Drive
Patton Oswalt: Young Adult
Eddie Marsan: Tyrannosaur

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin: Incendies
Jessica Chastain: Take Shelter
Charlotte Gainsbourg: Melancholia
Judy Greer: The Descendants
Malonn Levana: Tomboy

Best Adapted Screenplay
Denis Villeneuve: Incendies
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash: The Descendants

Best Original Screenplay
Celine Sciamma: Tomboy
Katell Quillevere: Love Like Poison
Asghar Farhadi: A Separation

Best Film Not in the English Language
Love Like Poison
Cold Fish

Best British Film
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II
Kill List

Best Breakthrough Performance by an Director/Actor/Actress/Writer
Jessica Chastain: Take Shelter
Ben Wheatly: Kill List
Elizabeth Olsen: Martha Marcy May Marlene

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