Pharmaceutical industry corruption & doomed gay love + sunny L.A. racism top British Academy Award nominations
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts' favorite movies of 2005 mostly consist of dead serious titles. Themes range from corruption, racism, and murder to political oppression, doomed (gay) love, and Jane Austen.
With ten nominations, leading the pack for the British Academy Awards is Fernando Meirelles' mostly British-produced, Kenya-set film version of John le Carré's political thriller The Constant Gardener, which pits Best Actor nominee Ralph Fiennes and Best Actress nominee Rachel Weisz against greedy multinational pharmaceutical companies.
For his portrayal of a low-level British diplomat investigating the brutal murder of his activist wife, Fiennes has deservedly been well remembered this awards season – but only in the U.K.; on the other side of the Atlantic, he has been all but ignored. Weisz has been luckier in the U.S., but as a “supporting” actress. In fact, she has just won a Golden Globe in that category.
'Crash' & 'Brokeback Mountain'
In the British Academy Awards' no. 2 slot are two U.S.-made dramas, each with nine nominations: Ang Lee's tragic gay cowboy romance Brokeback Mountain and Paul Haggis' Los Angeles-set, race-conscious drama Crash. Heath Ledger is up for the Best Actor British Academy Award, but, absurdly, his sheep-poking lover Jake Gyllenhaal has been shortlisted in the Best Supporting Actor category.
Two of Gyllenhaal's competitors are Crash actors Matt Dillon and Don Cheadle. Michelle Williams and Thandie Newton are Best Supporting Actress nominees for playing, respectively, Heath Ledger's cuckolded wife in Brokeback Mountain and a woman who almost dies in a fiery car accident in Crash.
The Constant Gardener, Brokeback Mountain, and Crash are all Best Picture British Academy Award nominees, while The Constant Gardener is also in the running for Best British Film.
Truman Capote & Edward R. Murrow + Jane Austen
The other two nominees for the British Academy Awards' Best Picture are:
- Bennett Miller's Capote, about flamboyant gay author Truman Capote's emotional involvement with one of the two subjects – both convicted murderers sentenced to death – of his book In Cold Blood. Best Actor awards season favorite Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Capote.
- Actor-director-coscreenwriter George Clooney's black-and-white drama Good Night and Good Luck., which focuses on the professional life of 1950s broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow (Best Actor nominee David Strathairn) and his spat with opportunistic right-wing senator Joseph McCarthy.
Mirroring the 2005–2006 awards season trend seen on the western side of the North Atlantic, the British Academy Awards' Best Picture contenders are all relatively “small” productions, four of which are American-financed.
Considering how the British Academy tends to favor British talent whenever possible, it's surprising not to find Jane Austen heroine Keira Knightley in the Best Actress race, even though Joe Wright's Pride & Prejudice did garner six nominations, including Best British Film and Best Supporting Actress for Brenda Blethyn.
Unloved King Kong & Steven Spielberg + idolized George Clooney
Starring Naomi Watts in the old Fay Wray role, Peter Jackson's mammoth King Kong managed only three British Academy Award nominations, all in the technical categories. Faring even worse was Steven Spielberg's Munich; probably as a result of a screener snafu, the political thriller starring Eric Bana as a Mossad agent was completely shut out.
Hollywood star turned serious director George Clooney had no such issues. In addition to Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (with Grant Heslov) nods for Good Night and Good Luck., Clooney is competing against himself as Best Supporting Actor: he's up for both Good Night and Good Luck. and Stephen Gaghan's West Asia-set political thriller Syriana. (Academy Award rules prevent such double nominations from taking place in the acting categories.)
Lastly, Ismaël Ferroukhi's Le Grand voyage was a major surprise in the Best Foreign Language Film shortlist. The relatively little-seen drama depicts the troubled relationship between a reactionary, middle-aged Moroccan Muslim (Mohamed Majd) and his wayward, French-raised son (Nicolas Cazalé) while on a long road pilgrimage from Provence to Mecca.
See list of BAFTA Award nominees & winners.
Jewish ghetto refugee tale is Guldbagge Awards' surprise Best Film
From the British Academy Awards to its Swedish equivalent: writer-director Lena Einhorn's Nina's Journey / Ninas resa was the surprise winner in the Best Film and Best Screenplay categories – its only two nominations – at the 2006 Guldbagge Awards, Sweden's Oscars. (Guldbagge is translated as “Golden Scarab.”)
Shot on digital video, the low-budget World War II-set drama follows a young Jewish woman (Agnieszka Grochowska) as she leaves Warsaw's Jewish ghetto for a new life in Sweden. Nina's Journey was adapted from Einhorn's own book, itself based on her mother's life story.
Björn Runge's Mouth to Mouth / Mun mot mun, which received seven Guldbagge nominations, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor (Peter Andersson), ended up winning only one award, for Best Supporting Actor Magnus Krepper. Mouth to Mouth chronicles the difficult life of a runaway teenager (Sofia Westberg) enmeshed with a middle-aged drug addict (Krepper) who hires her out as a sex worker.
Another notable 2006 Guldbagge Award recipient is veteran Anita Björk, best remembered as the heroine in Alf Sjöberg's 1951 Palme d'Or co-winning* film adaption of August Strindberg's Miss Julie / Fröken Julie, opposite Ulf Palme.
Beginning in 1942, Björk was seen in three dozen features, among them:
- Gustaf Molander's Woman Without a Face / Kvinna utan ansikte (1947), from a screenplay by Molander and Ingmar Bergman, and featuring Alf Kjellin and Gunn Wållgren.
- Ingmar Bergman's Waiting Women / Kvinnors väntan (1952), with Eva Dahlbeck, Maj-Britt Nilsson, and Aino Taube.
- In a supporting role, Bo Widerberg's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar-nominated political drama Adalen 31 / Ådalen 31 (1969), toplining Peter Schildt.
- In another supporting role, Bille August's The Best Intentions / Den goda viljan (1992), from a screenplay by Ingmar Bergman, and featuring Pernilla August and Max von Sydow.
A major name in Swedish cinema, Anita Björk might also have enjoyed a Hollywood career had she been cast in Alfred Hitchcock's 1953 suspense drama I Confess; against the director's will, the role ultimately went to Anne Baxter.
Björk's sole U.S.-produced movie turned out to be Nunnally Johnson's post-war-Berlin-set political/spy drama Night People (1954), a largely forgotten effort starring Gregory Peck and Broderick Crawford.
Veteran Marthe Keller among Swiss Film Award winners
Michael Steiner's Swiss-German comedy Rascals on the Road / My Name is Eugen / Mein Name ist Eugen, adapted by Steiner, Christopher Frey, and Michael Sauter from pastor and politician Klaus Schädelin's 1955 children's novel, was named Best Film at the 2006 Swiss Film Awards, announced at the Solothurn Film Festival. (Solothurn is located about halfway between Bern and Basel, in northwestern Switzerland.)
Starring Manuel Häberli as the titular character, Rascals on the Road follows four teenagers in their quest for mythical hidden treasures in the Swiss countryside's Alpine mountains and lakes. The movie has been a major box office hit in Switzerland's German-speaking cantons.
Carlos Leal was chosen Best Lead Performer for Iraqi-born director Samir's Snow White, which features lots of drugs and rap music but no sneezing dwarves, while veteran Marthe Keller (And Now My Love, Marathon Man) topped the Best Supporting Performance category for her suicidal, Alzheimer's-stricken mother in Laurent Nègre's feature film debut Fragile.
Bavarian + Hong Kong film awards
At the 2006 Bavarian Film Awards, bestowed by the state government of Bavaria at a ceremony held in Munich, the top winner was Marc Rothemund's Nazi Germany-set drama Sophie Scholl: The Final Days / Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage, starring Julia Jentsch as the titular anti-Nazi fighter who was executed at age 21 in 1943.
Best Actor Oscar winner Maximilian Schell (Judgment at Nuremberg, 1961) was the recipient of the Honorary Award. Schell's extensive list of movie credits includes Jules Dassin's heist comedy Topkapi (1964); Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee The Pedestrian (1973), which he also directed; and Norbert Kückelmann's political thriller Morgen in Alabama (1984).
From Central Europe to East Asia: the Hong Kong Film Critics Society selected Johnnie To's Election as the best film of 2005, calling it “a ripe masterpiece in the Hong Kong-style mobster film genre.” To was named Best Director.
Tony Leung Ka-fai was Best Actor for conveying “the tirelessness of an obsessional crush” in Everlasting Regret, while Zhou Xun was Best Actress for her “fine eye expressions and rich body language” in Perhaps Love.
Andrzej Wajda & Ian McKellen Honorary Golden Bears
One of Poland's best-known filmmakers, Andrzej Wajda has had several of his films in competition in Berlin, including Pan Tadeusz: The Last Foray in Lithuania, Miss Nobody, and Holy Week. Among his 40 or so features, most of which are highly politicized, are A Generation, Kanal, Ashes and Diamonds, Man of Marble, and Man of Iron. In 2000, Jane Fonda handed Wajda an Honorary Oscar.
Wajda will receive his Honorary Golden Bear on Feb. 15. At the director's request, following the ceremony his film Pilate and Others (1972) will be screened in the original German version.
Among stage and screen star Ian McKellen's movie credits are Bill Condon's Gods and Monsters, which earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination; the X-Men films, as Magneto; Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, as Gandalf; and David MacKenzie's Asylum, screened at last year's Berlinale.
One of the rare openly gay film stars around, Ian McKellen will be given his Honorary Golden Bear on Feb. 11. Richard Loncraine's 1995 film version of Richard III, with McKellen in the title role, will be screened after the ceremony.
See below the list of winners of the Guldbagge Awards, Swiss Film Awards, Bavarian Film Awards, and the Hong Kong Film Critics Society, plus the Evening Standard British Film Awards and the Online Film Critics Society's top picks.
Guldbagge Award winners
Best Film: Nina's Journey / Ninas resa, prod.: Kaska Krosny.
Best Foreign Language Film: The Child / L'Enfant, dir.: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Belgium).
Best Director: Ulf Malmros, God Save the King / Tjenare Kungen.
Best Actor: Krister Henriksson, Sex, Hope & Love / Sex, hopp och kärlek.
Best Actress: Maria Lundqvist, Mother of Mine / Den bästa av mödrar.
Best Supporting Actor: Magnus Krepper, Mouth to Mouth / Mun mot mun.
Best Supporting Actress: Ghita Nørby, Four Weeks in June / Fyra veckor i juni.
Best Screenplay: Lena Einhorn, Nina's Journey.
Best Cinematography: Aril Wretblad, Zozo.
Best Documentary Film: Prostitution Behind the Veil / Prostitution bakom slöjan, dir.: Nahid Persson.
Best Short Film: A Night Story / En nattsaga, dir.: Maja Lindström.
Best Achievement in Editing, Set Design, Costume Design, Make-Up, Special Effects, or Animation: Costume Designer Jaana Fomin, God Save the King.
Best Achievement in Sound Design, Sound Mix, or Musical Score: Adam Nordén for the music in Zozo.
Honorary Guldbagge: Anita Björk.
Ingmar Bergman Award: Åse Kleveland.
Outstanding Achievement in Children's Films: Director of animation Per Åhlin.
Swiss Film Award winners
Best Film: Rascals on the Road / Mein Name ist Eugen.
Best Lead Performer: Carlos Leal, Snow White.
Best Supporting Performer: Marthe Keller, Fragile.
Best Documentary: Exit, the Right to Die, dir.: Fernand Melgar.
Best Short Film: Terra Incognita, dir.: Peter Volkhart.
Special Jury Prize: Filmkollectiv Zürich, for producing Beatrice Michel Leuthold & Hans Stürms documentary Klingenhof.
Bavarian Film Award winners
Best Production: Sophie Scholl: The Final Days / Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage, prod.: Sven Burgemeister, Christoph Müller, Marc Rothemund & Fred Breinersdorfer.
Best Director: Andreas Dresen, Summer in Berlin / Sommer vorm Balkon.
Best Actor: Ulrich Mühe, The Lives of Others / Das Leben der Anderen.
Best Actress: Nina Hoss, The White Massai / Die Weiße Massai.
Best Young Actor: Max Riemelt, The Red Cockatoo / Der Rote Kakadu.
Best Young Actress: Sandra Hüller, Requiem.
Best Young Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others.
Best Screenplay: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others.
Best Cinematography: Hans-Günther Bücking, Snowland / Schneeland.
Best Documentary: Into Great Silence / Die Große Stille, dir.: Philip Gröning.
Best Family Film:A Christmoose Carol / Es ist ein Elch entsprungen, dir.: Ben Verbong.
Special Award: Warchild, dir.: Christian Wagner.
Best New Producer: The Lives of Others, Wiedemann & Berg Filmproduktion.
Honorary Award: Maximilian Schell.
Hong Kong Film Critics winners
Best Film: Election.
Best Director: Johnnie To, Election.
Best Actor: Tony Leung Ka-fai, Everlasting Regret.
Best Actress: Zhou Xun, Perhaps Love.
Best Screenwriter: Wong Jing, Color of the Loyalty.
London 'Evening Standard' British Film Award winners
Best Film: The Constant Gardener.
Best Actor: Ralph Fiennes, The Constant Gardener.
Best Actress: Natasha Richardson, Asylum.
Best Screenplay: Mark O'Halloran, Adam and Paul.
Technical Achievement: Director Neil Marshall, The Descent.
Most Promising Newcomer: Director Saul Dibb, Bullet Boy.
Comedy Performance: Tom Hollander, Pride & Prejudice.
Contribution to British Film: Nick Park, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
Online Film Critics winners
Best Film: A History of Violence.
Best Foreign Language Film: Downfall, dir.: Oliver Hirschbiegel.
Best Director: David Cronenberg, A History of Violence.
Best Supporting Actress: Maria Bello, A History of Violence.
Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote.
Best Supporting Actor: Mickey Rourke, Sin City.
Best Original Screenplay: George Clooney & Grant Heslov, Good Night, and Good Luck.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain.
Best Documentary: Grizzly Man, dir.: Werner Herzog.
Best Animated Feature: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
Best Cinematography: Robert Rodriguez, Sin City.
Best Editing: Robert Rodriguez, Sin City.
Best Score: Gustavo Santaolalla, Brokeback Mountain.
Breakthrough Filmmaker: Paul Haggis, Crash.
Breakthrough Performer: Owen Kline, The Squid and the Whale.
British Academy Awards website.
Swedish Film Institute website.
Image of Ralph Fiennes in the British Academy Award nominee The Constant Gardener: Focus Features.
Agnieszka Grochowska Nina's Journey image: Svensk Filmindustri.
“British Academy: Corruption & Racism + Doomed Gay Love Top Nominations” last updated in December 2018.