The winners of the 2007 London Film Critics' Circle Awards were announced this evening at a ceremony held in aid of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children at the Dorchester Hotel.
London Film Critics' Awards chair Marianne Gray stated that The Queen – winner of the best British film, best British director (Stephen Frears), best British actress (Helen Mirren), and best screenplay (Peter Morgan) awards – “symbolizes everything that is right with the British film industry at the moment and it is great to see that it can compete with the best that Hollywood can offer.”
The Queen was also in the running for the Film of the Year award, but despite its symbolizing “everything that is right with the British film industry” the royal drama lost out to United 93.
The most intriguing aspect of the London critics' top-film pick is that United 93 also happens to be a British production – even if set aboard an American plane. Paul Greengrass, Tim Bevan, and Eric Fellner were, in fact, voted best British producers of the year – even though their film failed to win a place among the nominees for best British film of 2006. Go figure.
Greengrass was also voted best director, while American performers Forest Whitaker (in the British-made The Last King of Scotland) and Meryl Streep (in The Devil Wears Prada) were chosen best actor and best actress.
Helen Mirren, invincible on this side of the Atlantic, has fared considerably less well in Britain. Besides losing out to Meryl Streep, Mirren has also lost best actress awards to Judi Dench (for Notes on a Scandal) at the Evening Standard British Film Awards, and to Kate Dickie (for Red Road) at the British Independent Film Awards. (In Britain, they have fewer film honors than in the U.S. That I'm aware of, there's no award-giving Cornwall Film Critics Society or Manchester Film Critics Association.)
Michael Caine (for a minor role in The Prestige) and Emily Blunt (for her popular scenery-chewing in The Devil Wears Prada) were voted best British supporting players. (There's no “best [international] supporting player” category.)
Penélope Cruz in Volver
In addition to Streep's well-deserved recognition – even though hers is in fact a supporting performance – the other good news from the London Critics was the choice of Pedro Almodóvar's Volver as best foreign language film of the year.
Volver, which has just won the Spanish Academy's Goya Awards for best film and best director, has done excellent business in Britain.
Now, the London critics clearly love Hollywood fare. Since its inception in 1980, only eight Film of the Year awards have gone to non-American productions, five of which were British. Of the other three, Babe, The Piano, and Paris, Texas, one (Babe) had some American financing while another was set in the United States (Paris, Texas). No production in a language other than English has thus far been chosen Film of the Year.
A few 2005 American releases that arrived in Britain only last year made the London Film Critics' nominations cut, among them Good Night and Good Luck., Capote, and The Squid and the Whale. But since we're now in 2007, they were apparently deemed passé. Even Philip Seymour Hoffman's Capote, the favorite among the favorites of 2005, lost the best actor award to this year's favorite among favorites, Forest Whitaker.
In fact, the new and the newsworthy received the bulk of the London critics' attention. With the exception of Infamous (best British actor Toby Jones) and Red Road (best British newcomer Andrea Arnold), every winning film at the London critics' ceremony is up for some Academy Award or other.