2013 European Film Awards winners
As I anticipated, "The Great Beauty," Paolo Sorrentino's visually extravagant, Fellini-referencing reflection on contemporary Rome, emerged the big winner at tonight's European Film Awards in Berlin, taking four prizes for European Film of the Year, European Director of the Year, European Actor of the Year for Toni Servillo and European Editor of the Year for Cristiano Travaglioli. The film, a critics' pet since Cannes, is Italy's entry for the foreign-language Oscar; and this haul lends a handy boost to its campaign across the pond.
The one award "Beauty" managed to lose was European Screenwriter of the Year, which went -- rightly, in my opinion -- to Francois Ozon for his tangled black comedy "In the House." Belgium's Veerle Baetens was a deserving but unsurprising Best Actress winner for "The Broken Circle Breakdown." (Surprises were few to none; all but one of my predictions panned out, and that sort of thing never happens.)
You can read how the evening -- which included typically spaced-out hosting for German comedienne Anke Engelke, and a musical number by Carice Van Houten (!) -- panned out in my live blog below.
European Composer of the Year
Ennio Morricone, "The Best Offer"
We're beginning with one of the previously announced technical winners -- I kind of miss having nominees in these categories, as they often came in from left field. Anyway, Volker Schlondorff presents to the 85-year-old Italian legend for his latest collaboration with Giuseppe Tornatore. I haven't seen the film, and am told the score is much as you'd expect, but... hey, it's Morricone. I think most would agree that he can't be overrewarded -- unless you're the Academy, of course.
European Achievement in World Cinema
Noomi Rapace begins the presentation, which throws a lot of people in the press room -- Almodovar loves actresses, sure, but what's the connection here? Then she throws to the "I'm So Excited!" ensemble, who do a bit of a routine, complete with acapella Pointer Sisters, which makes a bit more sense. Almodovar's speech is lengthy -- it's the first one he's prepared, he says -- and unexpectedly political, with a pointed rejoinder to Spain's negligent Ministry of Culture. Good stuff, if not typically Pedro. (He could be up on stage later for Best European Comedy -- maybe he's saving the zaniness for then.)
European Discovery Award
Jan Ole Gerster, "Oh Boy!"
As predicted, the only Film of the Year nominee in the field triumphed in this category for debut filmmakers. Still, Gerster certainly doesn't look prepared: "The first two winners tonight are Ennio Morricone and Pedro Almodovar, and I'm number three," he says, looking flustered. "That's normal." Anyway, I'm pleased for the young German: it's an appealing little film -- kind of a Euro male "Frances Ha," if that makes sense -- and was kind of slighted by Germany's Oscar selection committee.
European Short Film
Tom van Avermaet, "Death of a Shadow"
This stylish Belgian steampunk fantasy, starring Matthias Schoenaerts, was nominated for the Oscar earlier this year -- I thought it should have won. It didn't, but this should come as some consolation.
European Comedy of the Year
"Love is All You Need," Susanne Bier
Who would be your first choice to present the EFA's inaugural comedy award? Wow, I was totally thinking of Berlinale artistic director Dieter Kosslick too. Great minds. Anyway, it's an ironically appropriate choice, since the winner -- Susanne Bier's cancer romp, otherwise known as "Mamma Mia Without the Songs" -- isn't all that funny either. Still, it's better than "I'm So Excited." Bier isn't present; Trine Dyrholm, whose performance is the film's strongest element, accepts for her.
European Documentary of the Year
"The Act of Killing," Joshua Oppenheimer
Well, of course. This isn't the first award Oppenheimer has won for his daring reflection on Indonesian genocide, and it certainly won't be the last. This critics 'favorite made the Academy's 15-film documentary shortlist earlier this week, and there will be uproar if it isn't nominated. Still, it's not exactly that branch's usual bag. Agnieszka Holland presents to a visibly moved Oppenheimer, who pays tribute to his Indonesian crew and thanks his husband.
European Animated Film of the Year
"The Congress," Ari Folman
No surprise there -- Folman is a major name, and this live-action/animation hybrid, starring a fierce Robin Wright as a Hollywood actress who has herself digitally cloned for work purposes, is a divisive but thrillingly delirious creative achievement. (Check out my Cannes review here.) I wonder if the Academy will deem it eligible for next year's animated Oscar -- the category would be a lot more interesting with it around.