Are you a fan of In Contention?
Sign up to get the latest updates instantly.
Unfortunately, after attending the Evening Standard Film Awards ceremony last year, I wasn't able to repeat this year -- a disappointment for me, since it's probably the chattiest and most unbuttoned stop on the UK precursor awards circuit.
I have happy memories of last year's event at London's tucked-away Cinema Museum, where Peter Mullan's sobering (and largely unawarded) youth drama "Neds" won top honors and I had a nice talk with director Asif Kapadia, who had a baby strapped to his stomach and was rather excited about a little film he had just premiered in Sundance called "Senna." One year later, he turns out to be a winner at tonight's event -- funny how these things work out.
The Evening Standard Awards, limited to British talent and determined by a jury of top London print critics including The Times's Kate Muir, The Telegraph's Tim Robey and, of course, The Standard's Derek Malcolm, pride themselves on their independent-mindedness -- last year, in addition to Mullan's unexpected triumph, they were also the only ceremony to reward Kristin Scott Thomas for the French drama "Leaving." This year, they still sit thoroughly left of BAFTA in their British film tastes, but have had their thunder slightly stolen by last month's London Critics' Circle Awards, which coincidentally pre-empted many of the Standard jury's choices (which are made in December, though kept secret until the ceremony).
After winning Best British Film from the London critics, Lynne Ramsay's "We Need to Talk About Kevin" pleasingly followed up with the Best Film award here. Similarly, the London critics' Best British Actor and Actress winners, Michael Fassbender and Olivia Colman, also repeated here -- though alongside his BAFTA-nominated turn in "Shame," it's nice to see Fassbender additionally cited by the Standard jury for his fine work in "Jane Eyre."
Colman, meanwhile, adds another British trophy to her mantel for her stunning breakout performance in "Tyrannosaur": with this, the British Independent Film Award and the London Critics' prize essentially amounting to the major pre-BAFTA trinity, the lack of a nomination from the British Academy is all the more glaring. Shame on them.
The list of winners is very much after my own heart, with Andrew Haigh's "Weekend" -- my #1 film of 2011, in case I've forgotten to mention that before -- taking a well-deserved prize for Best Screenplay. It's the first time, as far as I'm aware, that the exquisite gay romance has been specifically recognized for the perceptive everyday poetry of its writing.
I'm also delighted to see yet another of my Top 10 films from last year, "Wuthering Heights," rewarded for Robbie Ryan's staggering cinematography -- over a formidable field of technical nominees that also included "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" production designer Maria Djurkovic and the remarkable sound design of "Kevin." (Also nominated in the top race, "Tinker, Tailor" left empty-handed -- though I'm sure it'll receive its due at the BAFTAs this weekend.)
"Senna," of course, racked up another documentary win, previewing an inevitable BAFTA victory, while John Martin McDonagh's "The Guard" received the jury's award for comic achievement. All in all, a good spread of winners -- kudos, once more, to the Standard panel.
The full list of winners is below; remind yourselves of the nominees here.
Best Film: "We Need to Talk About Kevin"
Best Actor: Michael Fassbender, "Jane Eyre" and "Shame"
Best Actress: Olivia Colman, "Tyrannosaur"
Best Screenplay: Andrew Haigh, "Weekend"
Best Documentary: "Senna"
Technical Achievement Award: Robbie Ryan, "Wuthering Heights"
Peter Sellers Award for Comedy: "The Guard"
Most Promising Newcomer: Tom Kingsley and Will Sharpe, "Black Pond"
Remember to keep track of the ups and downs of the 2011-2012 film awards season via The Circuit.
For more views on movies, awards season and other pursuits, follow @GuyLodge on Twitter.
Everything: Academy Awards
Latest news, photos, reviews, interviews, videos and more.