"12 Years" Tops London Critics' Nominations

"12 Years" Tops London Critics' Nominations
Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor in "12 Years A Slave"
(© 2013 Fox Searchlight Pictures)

It may be more a symbolic fillip than a material one, but “12 Years a Slave”’s dominance of the London Critics Circle Film Awards nominations (listed below) can only boost its chances of achieving major success at the Academy Awards. As reported in Screen DailySteve McQueen’s grueling drama of plantation servitude received nine nods.

“Blue Jasmine,” “Filth,” “Gravity,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” were each nominated in four categories. “American Hustle,” “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” “Captain Phillips,” “Frances Ha,” “The Great Beauty,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Nebraska,” and “The Selfish Giant” were each nominated three times.

 

There are anomalies — on paper, at least. “American Hustle,” which along with “Gravity” could pose the stiffest competition for “12 Years” at the Oscars, was omitted from the 10 pictures nominated by the Londoners as Film of the Year. Similarly, its director, David O. Russell, was omitted from the five Director of the Year nominations.

Could it be the London critics don’t “get” Russell’s neo-Runyonesque screwball comedy, or is its comparative snubbing indicative of a more general backlash typified by Peter Debruge’s put-down in Variety this week?

The London scribes appear to have no difficulty with the off-kilter young New York sensibility of Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha,” which has pleased them more than it has most American critics’ groups. It was nominated for Film of the Year, Best Actress (Greta Gerwig), and the Technical Achievement Award (Sam Levy, cinematography). Never underestimate the Gerwig effect on the Brits.

Despite its quartet of nominations, Jon S. Baird’s scabrous Irvine Welsh adaptation “Filth” (not yet released in the US) does not figure among the 10 Film of the Year choices. At the other end of the scale, Spike Jonze’s “Her” was nominated for Film of the Year and Screenwriter of the Year (Jonze), but nothing else.

Since “Behind the Candelabra” was released theatrically in the UK, Michael Douglas’s portrayal of Liberace will allow him to compete for Actor of the Year with Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), Bruce Dern (“Nebraska”), and Tom Hanks (“Captain Phillips”).

The Actress of the Year category is, to use soccer parlance, “the group of death.” Oscar cert Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”) will not have an easy run against local favorite Judi Dench, whose moving performance in “Philomena” garnered enormous good will in the UK. Gerwig or Sandra Bullock (“Gravity”) are unlikely to be crowned here, but the outstanding 20-year-old French actress Adèle Exarchopoulos could spring a surprise. Either her Palme d'Or-winning succès de scandale, “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” or “The Great Beauty” will win Foreign-Language Film of the Year.

Because the London critics honor British Actor and Actress of the Year as well as Actor and Actress of the Year, four actors have been nominated twice: Ejiofor has also been nominated as British Actor, Dench also as British Actor, Michael Fassbender (“12 Years”) as Supporting Actor and British Actor, and Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”) as Supporting Actor and British Actor.

The nominees for British Film of the Year include “Rush,” directed in an aggressive Hollywood style by an American, Ron Howard. The others are “Filth,” Stephen Frears’s “Philomena,” Ben Wheatley’s “A Field in England,” and Clio Barnard’s “The Selfish Giant.” “A Field in England” is the most innovative of these films; “The Selfish Giant,” as heartbreaking as “Philomena” but less sentimental, is one of the most trenchant movies about the plight of socially deprived British children since Ken Loach’s “Kes” (1969). One of them deserves to win this category.

Named for the distinguished critic Dilys Powell (1901-95), the Award for Excellence in Film will be presented to the actor Gary Oldman, a laurel that needs no explanation.

The 34th London Critics Circle Film Awards will be held on February 2. Here are the nominations in full: 

FILM OF THE YEAR
Blue Is the Warmest Color
Blue Jasmine
Frances Ha
Gravity
The Great Beauty
Her
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR
Blue Is the Warmest Color
Caesar Must Die
Gloria
The Great Beauty
A Hijacking

BRITISH FILM OF THE YEAR
A Field in England
Filth
Philomena
Rush
The Selfish Giant

DOCUMENTARY OF THE YEAR
The Act of Killing
Beware of Mr Baker
Leviathan
Stories We Tell
We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks

ACTOR OF THE YEAR
Bruce Dern - Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street
Michael Douglas - Behind the Candelabra
Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks - Captain Phillips

ACTRESS OF THE YEAR
Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock - Gravity
Judi Dench - Philomena
Adèle Exarchopoulos - Blue Is the Warmest Color
Greta Gerwig - Frances Ha

SUPPORTING ACTOR OF THE YEAR
Barkhad Abdi - Captain Phillips
Michael Fassbender - 12 Years a Slave
James Gandolfini - Enough Said
Tom Hanks - Saving Mr Banks
Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club

SUPPORTING ACTRESS OF THE YEAR
Naomie Harris - Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o - 12 Years a Slave
June Squibb - Nebraska

BRITISH ACTOR OF THE YEAR
Christian Bale - American Hustle / Out of the Furnace
Steve Coogan - Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa / The Look of Love / Philomena / What Maisie Knew
Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave
Michael Fassbender - The Counsellor / 12 Years a Slave
James McAvoy - Filth / Trance / Welcome to the Punch

BRITISH ACTRESS OF THE YEAR
Judi Dench - Philomena
Lindsay Duncan - About Time / Last Passenger / Le Week-end
Naomie Harris - Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine
Emma Thompson - Beautiful Creatures / Saving Mr Banks

YOUNG BRITISH PERFORMER OF THE YEAR
Conner Chapman - The Selfish Giant
Saoirse Ronan - Byzantium / The Host / How I Live Now
Eloise Laurence - Broken
George MacKay - Breakfast With Jonny Wilkinson / For Those in Peril / How I Live Now / Sunshine on Leith
Shaun Thomas - The Selfish Giant

DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
Alfonso Cuarón - Gravity
Paul Greengrass - Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave
Paolo Sorrentino - The Great Beauty
Martin Scorsese - The Wolf of Wall Street

SCREENWRITER OF THE YEAR
Ethan Coen & Joel Coen - Inside Llewyn Davis
Spike Jonze - Her
Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope - Philomena
John Ridley - 12 Years a Slave
Terence Winter - The Wolf of Wall Street

BREAKTHROUGH BRITISH FILMMAKER
Jon S Baird - Filth
Scott Graham - Shell
Marcus Markou - Papadopoulos & Sons
Rufus Norris - Broken
Paul Wright - For Those in Peril

TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
American Hustle - Judy Becker, production design
Behind the Candelabra - Howard Cummings, production design
Filth - Mark Eckersley, editing
Frances Ha - Sam Levy, cinematography
Gravity - Tim Webber, visual effects
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Trish Summerville, costumes
Inside Llewyn Davis - T Bone Burnett, music
Stoker - Kurt Swanson & Bart Mueller, costumes
12 Years a Slave - Sean Bobbitt, cinematography
Upstream Colour - Johnny Marshall, sound design

DILYS POWELL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN FILM
Gary Oldman