Described as ‘the first UK film awards of the year’, the 2014 UK Regional Critics’ Film Awards purport to be a reliable indicator of the BAFTAs, that is, the awards given by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. This is to say the awards were for the most part split between three films – 12 YEARS A SLAVE, GRAVITY and PHILOMENA. Sponsored by the Film Distributors Association and hosted by Miquita Oliver, a personality I am reliably informed is no relation, unless I have an illegitimate daughter taken from me from my time at the convent, it offered invited guests the opportunity to kick back and try and drink as much alcohol as Jacqueline Bisset did at this year’s Golden Globes.
It was a privilege to go to a film awards ceremony as a guest. No goodie bags, I’m afraid, unless you count a 2014 Movie Network desk calendar. There was the opportunity to win some movie-related merchandise – a WORLD’S END dartboard and a propeller from GI JOE. I shouted the correct answers out both times to no avail; Martin Freeman played Oliver in THE WORLD’S END, Joel Kinnaman is the star of TV’s THE KILLING who will soon be seen as ROBOCOP. Acoustics were worse than the Globe. That’s also what I said at the National.
This being the sort of film awards that I could get into there were, of course, no celebrities. Prizes were accepted by representatives from film distributors, who occasionally read out speeches, although the guy from Entertainment Film Distributors was surrounded by quotes from movie critics and didn’t make much of a visual impression. (Check out their posters.) There were three nominated films in each category, which made for fewer disappointed losers. The exception was six individuals nominated for Blogger of the Year, voted for by the UK public – I guess I still have to break into that market.
And so to the winners!
Beating off formidable competition from Connor Chapman (THE SELFISH GIANT) and Jack Huston (KILL YOUR DARLINGS), the British Breakthrough Award went to George MacKay, star of SUNSHINE ON LEITH, FOR THOSE IN PERIL and HOW I LIVE NOW; basically he was the go-to Scot of the year. He represented the argument for retaining the union with the United Kingdom. So when the population of Scotland votes in September, they should bear that in mind – that and the ailing fortunes of Rangers football club. There is a voice from the corner telling me to wind it up...
The Screenwriter of the Year was named as Spike Jonze for HER, putting PHILOMENA in the shade. The gentleman from Entertainment Film Distributors picked up that award too.
Cate Blanchett was named as Best Actress for BLUE JASMINE, triumphing over Emma Thompson in SAVING MR BANKS and Judi Dench in PHILOMENA.
Chiwetel Ejiofor claimed the coveted Best Actor award for 12 YEARS A SLAVE, ripping it from the grasp of Tom Hanks (CAPTAIN PHILLIPS).
Almost inevitably, the award for Best Visual Effects went to GRAVITY.
FROZEN was named Best Animated Film of the Year, the highest grossing film directed by a woman.
A special award for On Screen Duo was given to Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks in SAVING MR BANKS, though surely Joaquin Phoenix and his pocket computer should have been nominated.
PHILOMENA was named British Film of the Year; nominations included GRAVITY, for reasons which escape me.
So to the Awards that matter.
Alfonso Cuarón was named Best Director for GRAVITY and prepared a speech which was read by Warner Bros Head of Publicity Jane Trotman. ‘I’m so glad I turned down WORLD WAR Z.’
‘Yes, it is true that I have made more films here in the United Kingdom than in my native Mexico. Here, you have the best technicians, the best sound stages and well, maybe not the most bankable stars in the world. I would like to thank Sandra Bullock – Clooney has his own movie, he’s a big boy, he can take care of himself.’
For the record, Mr Cuarón’s speech was nothing like that.
Finally, 12 YEARS A SLAVE was named Best Film. A speech was read out from the producers. ‘We are so glad that you recognise 12 YEARS as a film; it’s what some people call in Hollywood development hell. We would like to thank the United States for having the best technicians, the best locations, maybe not the most bankable stars. Did anyone see OBLIVION?’
For the record, the speech was nothing like that.
Finally a speech I can render verbatim. The Blogger of the Year was named as Ryan Lambie of Den of Geek: ‘Thanks,’ he said, clearing his throat.
Well, you don’t get paid by the word for acceptance speeches.
It only remains for me to note the trailers of upcoming films we were treated to: NOAH, CALVARY, MALEFICENT, JUPITER ASCENDING but not PUDSEY THE DOG MOVIE. What’s the matter with them?
I would like to thank the Film Distributors Association, ShowFilmFirst.com, Café de Paris and house band Jigsaw who played us out with ‘forget about the price tag’...