Large-scale spectacle and fine-tuned intimacy shared the spoils as the UK’s leading film critics unveiled the winners of their annual awards at London’s May Fair Hotel last night. Toward the end of the star-studded black-tie ceremony, hosted by comedian Robin Ince, it was George Miller’s high-octane action extravaganza Mad Max: Fury Road that raced ahead of the competition, taking the awards for Film of the Year and Director of the Year.
Miller’s film also shared in a third trophy, as leading man Tom Hardy was named British/Irish Actor of the Year for his body of work in 2015, also including his performances in Legend, The Revenant and London Road.
Equalling Mad Max’s tally of three wins was Andrew Haigh’s tender marital drama 45 Years, which the critics named British/Irish Film of the Year. It also won the night’s top acting prizes, as veteran stars Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay were named Actress and Actor of the Year.
It was a strong night for British talent, as Kate Winslet was named Supporting Actress of the Year for her work in Steve Jobs, while Mark Rylance took the Supporting Actor honour for Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies.
Adding to its growing list of honours in the US, Asif Kapadia’s homegrown Amy Winehouse portrait Amy took the award for Documentary of the Year. Among the films it beat was The Look of Silence: Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow-up to The Act of Killing was instead named Foreign Language Film of the Year.
Other winners included Brooklyn star Saoirse Ronan, who was named British/Irish Actress of the Year, while 18-year-old Maisie Williams accepted the Young British/Irish Performer award for her challenging lead role in Carol Morley’s adolescent study The Falling. Scottish musician-turned-filmmaker John Maclean won the Philip French Award for Breakthrough British/Irish Filmmaker for his striking revisionist western Slow West. The critics rounded out their British-specific awards with a new category: Oscar nominee Benjamin Cleary claimed the inaugural British/Irish Short Film of the Year award for his unconventional love story Stutterer.
American filmmaker Tom McCarthy and his co-writer Josh Singer were named Screenwriters of the Year for their fact-based script for journalistic drama Spotlight; Todd Haynes’s period romance Carol took the multi-disciplinary Technical Achievement Award for Ed Lachman’s lush 16mm cinematography.
Bringing the ceremony to a rousing close, finally, was a confluence of British acting royalty, as Judi Dench took the stage to present Kenneth Branagh with the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film. Branagh accepted the award from his recent stage partner in A Winter’s Tale, after verbal and visual tributes to his storied career as an actor and filmmaker.
For the fourth year running, the May Fair Hotel hosted the proceedings, with Winslet, Hardy, Courtenay and Williams among the talent in attendance at the red-carpet event. Other key sponsors for the evening included Audi, Cameo Productions, Innerplace, Remy Martin, Sacred, Suqqu, Synchronicity, Voss and Viru.
The full list of winners for the 36th London Critics’ Circle Film Awards:
FILM OF THE YEAR: Mad Max: Fury Road
BRITISH/IRISH FILM OF THE YEAR: 45 Years
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR: The Look of Silence
DOCUMENTARY OF THE YEAR: Amy
ACTOR OF THE YEAR: Tom Courtenay — 45 Years
ACTRESS OF THE YEAR: Charlotte Rampling — 45 Years
SUPPORTING ACTOR OF THE YEAR: Mark Rylance — Bridge of Spies
SUPPORTING ACTRESS OF THE YEAR: Kate Winslet — Steve Jobs
DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR: George Miller — Mad Max: Fury Road
SCREENWRITER OF THE YEAR: Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy — Spotlight
BRITISH/IRISH ACTOR OF THE YEAR: Tom Hardy — Legend, London Road, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant
BRITISH/IRISH ACTRESS OF THE YEAR: Saoirse Ronan — Brooklyn, Lost River
YOUNG BRITISH/IRISH PERFORMER OF THE YEAR: Maisie Williams — The Falling
PHILIP FRENCH AWARD FOR BREAKTHROUGH BRITISH/IRISH FILMMAKER: John Maclean — Slow West
BRITISH/IRISH SHORT FILM OF THE YEAR: Stutterer — Benjamin Cleary
TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Ed Lachman, cinematography — Carol
DILYS POWELL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN FILM: Kenneth Branagh