The British Independent Film Awards are known for surprises, and true to form, they sprung a last-minute one at tonight’s ceremony. As I’d anticipated, Peter Strickland’s critically beloved horror homage “Berberian Sound Studio” enjoyed a great haul, taking Best Director, Best Actor for Toby Jones and two extra prizes for production and technical achievement. But just as it seemed set to take the night, they swung left, handing the top prize to “Broken,” the debut feature from acclaimed theater director Rufus Norris — an unexpected choice both because it received mixed reviews upon its Cannes premiere, and won’t be released until the spring in the UK. The film won in only one other category, for Best Supporting Actor.
“The Imposter” team will also be celebrating tonight, as the Oscar-shortlisted doc inevitably won the Best Documentary award, but also Best Debut Director for Bart Layton (beating, among others, Rufus Norris). Entirely shut out of the awards, despite five nominations, was “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” — seems the BIFA jury might have heard the complaints of critics who felt the mainstream smash hit wasn’t sufficiently “indie” to compete.
“Best Exotic” even lost what appeared to be its best bet, Best Supporting Actress: Maggie Smith had to make way for a different kind of national treasure, as Olivia Colman took the prize for her droll turn as the Queen Mother in “Hyde Park on Hudson.” (Hey, remember when people expected that to be an Oscar player?)It’s Colman’s second straight BIFA win, incidentally — she won Best Actress last year for her staggering turn in “Tyrannosaur.” Could the BIFA win lead to a BAFTA nod this time, after last year’s controversial snub? I think it could.
Andrea Riseborough, meanwhile, won Best Actress for strong work in IRA thriller “Shadow Dancer,” beating out some stiff competition — including Oscar-winner Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady.” Can’t win ’em all, eh?
Full list of winners below:
Best British Independent Film: “Broken”
Best Director: Peter Strickland, “Berberian Sound Studio”
Best Actor: Toby Jones, “Berberian Sound Studio”
Best Actress: Andrea Riseborough, “Shadow Dancer”
Best Supporting Actor: Rory Kinnear, “Broken”
Best Supporting Actress: Olivia Colman, “Hyde Park on Hudson”
Best Screenplay: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram and Amy Jump, “Sightseers”
Best International Independent Film: “The Hunt”
Best Documentary: “The Imposter”
Best Technical Achievement: Joakim Sundstrom and Stevie Haywood (sound design), “Berberian Sound Studio”
Best Debut Director: Bart Layton, “The Imposter”
Most Promising Newcomer: James Floyd, “My Brother the Devil”
Best Achievement in Production: “Berberian Sound Studio”
Raindance Award: “Strings”
Best British Short: “Volume”
Variety Award: Jude Law
Richard Harris Award: Michael Gambon
Special Jury Award: Sandra Hebron
As always, keep track of all the ups and downs of the 2012-2013 season via The Circuit.