London Critics’ Circle Film Awards 2020: A chat with the winners and nominees
The London Critics’ Circle Film Awards took place at the May Fair Hotel for its 40th edition. Bong Joon Ho’s dark class-war comedy Parasite came out on top, taking Director of the Year at the awards, voted on by over 150 of the UK’s leading film critics.
Actress and writer Sally Phillips was the host of an evening that also saw The Souvenir take a pair of prizes: Joanna Hogg’s bittersweet 1980s memoir was named British/Irish Film of the Year by the critics, while its 22-year-old leading lady Honor Swinton Byrne received the Young British/Irish Performer award. Another multiple winner was Noah Baumbach’s searing divorce drama Marriage Story, recognised for its screenplay and Laura Dern’s supporting performance.
Joanna Hogg was one of four female directors honoured at the evening, which also saw French auteur Céline Sciamma win Foreign Language Film of the Year for her sensual period romance Portrait of a Lady on Fire, with Syrian journalist-turned-filmmaker Waad Al-Kateab, alongside co-director Edward Watts, taking Documentary of the Year for her shattering Syrian civil war diary For Sama.
Veteran British filmmaker Sally Potter, meanwhile, earned the critics’ highest honour, the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film, for her oeuvre of daring, formally inventive feminist cinema. She was presented with the award by actress Elle Fanning, star of Potter’s films Ginger & Rosa and The Roads Not Taken, which premieres at the Berlinale festival next month.
For only the second time, two honorees were selected for the Dilys Powell Award, which was also presented to legendary costume designer Sandy Powell, 28 years after her trailblazing collaboration with Potter on the film Orlando. A third special presentation, in honour of the awards’ 40th anniversary, was made to beloved British animation studio Aardman.
“I’m thrilled that the critics have recognised the work of so many female filmmakers, and rising talents along with established greats,” said Film Section Chair Anna Smith, who hosts the Girls On Film podcast. “Our members see almost every film released in cinemas, so our awards are a true reflection of the most acclaimed films of the year. If you’re wondering what to watch, look no further than our results.”
American stars swept the top acting categories, with Renée Zellweger named Actress of the Year for her immersive turn as Judy Garland in Judy; her co-star Jessie Buckley was on hand to accept her award. Joaquin Phoenix’s dynamic performance in the title role of Joker earned him Actor of the Year — an award he previously won for The Master. Supporting awards went to Dern and The Irishman‘s Joe Pesci.
In the British/Irish acting races, two stars were honoured for their body of work in 2019. British/Irish Actress of the Year went to Florence Pugh, star of Midsommar, Little Women and Fighting With My Family, and Robert Pattinson was named British/Irish Actor of the Year for his performances in The Lighthouse, High Life and The King.
We were there on the red carpet to catch a few moments with some of the nominees as they arrived.
Mike Beckingham talks about his horror-thriller, The Host, which is out on Amazon Prime now, as well as his optimism for the future of the film industry and hopes for more diverse, inclusive cinema.
Emma Tillinger Koskoff discusses being the Producer of both The Joker and The Irishman. Watching both performances come alive was a “true honour” for her.
Noah Jupe describes being there at the London Critics’ Circle as “nostalgic”. He talks about how working on Honey Boy was rewarding hard work, which he couldn’t have done without his now close friend, Shia LaBeouf.
Nicole Simone (The Host), describes the film as a Hitchcockian thriller, which was one of her favourite films to make.
Zachary Weckstein thinks awards like London Critics’ are crucial. He explains how for him, they aren’t biased and are solely focused on recognising great talent.
Mark Jenkin, who stars in Bait, explains the technical mastery behind how he shot his film and how his faith in British Indie films has recently been restored.
Sally Potter shares the highlights of her career with us and how she is more enthusiastic about filmmaking now than she ever has been before.
Raffey Cassidy summarises how special her filming experience was and her hopes for what she would like to work on in the future.
Finally, we spoke to Sandy Powell, who is thrilled to be nominated for an award for The Irishman. She explains the amount of research she undertook for the role.
The editorial unit
Interviewer: Sarah Bradbury
Video: Marta Starczynowska
Editor: Filippo L’Astorina