These nominations “feel much less political and reflect very real critics’ choices”, commented Jeremy Irvine, who alongside Phoebe Fox, announced the nominations of the 35th annual London Critics’ Circle awards. He went on to add that as a direct result of the less politicized nature of the awards, the nominations feature more “indie movies and less mainstream films” – a fair comment given that American independents Whiplash and Nightcrawler received Film of the Year Nominations, alongside big mainstream hits like The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood. In total however, Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner led the way in nominations winning a total of seven nods, including Film of the Year, followed closely by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s satire Birdman which garnered six nominations, including Film of the Year, Director of the Year and Actor of the Year (Michael Keaton).
In a rare feat, Julianne Moore competes against herself in the Actress of the Year category, being recognized for her work in David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars and Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s Still Alice.
Essie Davis also won a nomination in the same category for her work in Jennifer Kent’s horror The Babadook. Fox picked out her performance as one she admired, especially given her own experience in dipping into the genre for The Woman in Black: Angel of Death. “Women are quite emotional, and it’s a nice element to add to a horror film. The character has an emotional past that she’s driven by. Hopefully we’ll start to have more women in horror,” she said. Irvine picked out having strong female leads as a recent trend in Hollywood, citing big franchises such as The Hunger Games and Divergent as examples. Complimenting Fox’s work, he added: “Strong female actresses – they have this strength. If a male actor was to do that it would seem ingenuine.”
Like Julianne Moore, Timothy Spall (Mr Turner), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) also won double mentions, being nominated in the Actor of the Year and British Actor of the Year categories. “I think I’m going to jump on the Eddie Redmayne bandwagon,” stated Jeremy Irvine, going on to call Redmayne’s performance in The Theory of Everything a “risky choice” that displayed “brave acting”.
This year has seen a far greater overlap between nominations in British categories and those in the general ones.
When asked if this trend suggested that it was now easier for British talent to get into Hollywood, Fox commented: “I think definitely for English men. Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston have paved the way for many young British actors.” “They fancy us,” interrupted Irvine to a number of laughs, but qualified his statement by adding that British actors are “very much in fashion”, citing British presences in teen blockbusters as an example. However, Irvine asserted that drama schools in the UK play a role in the transferability of British talent as well: “You start with Shakespeare, then you can do modern theatre, and then you’re told you can move on to acting for film and television” which “gives them [British actors] a grounded quality.” However, the actors stressed that the reverse is very much true, too: “American actors want to work here,” said Fox, with Irvine also stating, “British people bring a wonderful subtlety to filmmaking.”
Critics have until 4th January to make their decisions, and it will be interesting to see if Irvine’s assessment of the political nature of the Critics’ Circle holds true and either of the independent films secure wins over huge mainstream successes in key categories. The overlap between nominations in British categories and general ones also proves that this has been an outstanding year for British cinema, and time will tell whether or not the awards reflect this success. Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, winners of 2012’s Breakthrough British Filmmakers award for their screenplay Sightseers, will announce the results at a black-tie ceremony to be held on 18th January at the May Fair Hotel.
A full list of nominees is provided here.