Nominations for the 26th annual European Film Awards — the Continent’s answer to the Oscars — will be announced on November 9, with the ceremony to follow on December 7 — but winners in six categories can already start rehearsing their acceptance speeches, as the EFA has changed the voting system for their technical awards. Instead of nominations and winners being announced and elected simultaneously with the top races, a specially appointed jury has instead chosen a single winner in each case.
Further more, two further categories — for Costume Design and Sound Design — have been added to the existing ones for Cinematography, Editing, Composer and Production Design. No reason has been given for the changes, though perhaps it was felt submitting it to a jury vote would yield a more discerning and diverse slate of winners. (Last year, “Shame” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” won all the technical categories between them.)
The biggest name among this year’s winners is Italy’s legendary Ennio Morricone, who takes the European Composer of the Year award for his work on Giuseppe Tornatore’s romantic thriller “The Best Offer.” It’s the 84-year-old’s first competitive EFA win — he was nominated for “Fateless” in 2005 — though he won a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. (He has, of course, never won a competitive Oscar: a five-time nominee, he received an honorary one in 2007.)
In what is surely to be the only one of these wins to overlap with the Oscar race to any extent, Sarah Greenwood took the Production Designer of the Year award for her intricate, folding diorama-like work on Joe Wright’s “Anna Karenina.” (Eligibility dates for the EFAs are highly variable.) Greenwood, you may remember, was Oscar-nominated earlier this year for her efforts, and won the Art Directors’ Guild period category, but ultimately lost to a surprise victor in “Lincoln.”
The EFA’s Cinematographer of the Year choice is inspired, as Asaf Sudry’s highly distinctive experimentation with shallow focus in Israeli marital drama “Fill the Void” — the country’s Oscar submission last year — proved crucial in defining and developing character perspective. Another of last year’s Oscar entries, Spain’s flamenco-inspired Snow White retelling “Blancanieves,” deservedly took the costume design category for Paco Delgado’s high-style black-and-white creations. (Delgado was Oscar-nominated earlier this year for more high-profile work on “Les Misérables” — where, as coincidence would have it, he competed alongside two Hollywood interpretations of Snow White.)
Paolo Sorrentino’s extravagant ode to Roman decadence and decay, “The Great Beauty” took the Editor of the Year award; the film is Italy’s Oscar submission this year. And while I can’t say I specifically recall the sound work in Ulrich Seidl’s “Paradise: Faith,” its citation in that category makes me all the more intrigued to check it out again.
This year’s jury members were: Finnish composer Tuomas Kantelinen (“Mongol”), French editor Hervé Schneid (“Amélie”), Italian director Francesco Ranieri Martinotti, Karlov Vary festival director Karel Och, Spanish producer Simón de Santiago Aréizaga (“Agora”), Swedish cinematographer Marek Wieser and Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanic (“On the Path”).
European Cinematographer of the Year: Asaf Sudry, “Fill the Void”
European Editor of the Year: Cristiano Travaglioli, “The Great Beauty”
European Production Designer of the Year: Sarah Greenwood, “Anna Karenina”
European Costume Designer of the Year: Paco Delgado, “Blancanieves”
European Composer of the Year: Ennio Morricone, “The Best Offer”
European Sound Designer of the Year: Matz Müller and Erik Mischijew, “Paradise: Faith”
As I said, nominations will be announced next week Saturday. Once again, I’ll be attending the EFA ceremony in December, so look out for further coverage.