London Critics' Circle honors Nicolas Roeg

Posted by · 8:08 am · December 2nd, 2011

This is news I’ve been excited to report for some time. This year, I was on the London Film Critics’ Circle awards committee to determine who would receive the group’s annual Dilys Powell Award for contribution to British cinema, which wasn’t the most simple of tasks. Many worthy names were bandied about, but the final choice is one no one could take issue with: venerable London-born director and former cinematographer Nicolas Roeg.

It’s hard to think of someone more deserving of career recognition: in addition to helming such offbeat classics as “Performance,” “Don’t Look Now” and “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” Roeg brought equal formal vigor to his lensing of “Far From the Madding Crowd” and “Petulia,” among others. The choice strikes a chord with me personally, given that “The Witches” was something of a formative film for my seven year-old self. Indeed, Roeg’s was the first director’s name I ever took note of.

Roeg has been honored by the London critics before, winning their Best Director prize in 1980 for his masterful puzzle picture “Bad Timing.” Having seen it for the first time earlier this year, I can only wish more awards groups had taken their lead. The Academy, needless to say, has never acknowledged his peculiar genius.

This career-achievement award is well-timed, coming in a year when the director was the subject of a major retrospective at the British Film Institute and when “Don’t Look Now” was named the greatest British film of all time in a Time Out poll. (The results of the poll, in which I was one of the participants, are here.) The award will be presented at the Circle’s awards ceremony on 19 January.

Full press release as follows:

Britain”s leading film critics have bestowed their highest honour, the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film to veteran film maker Nicolas Roeg, joining the illustrious company of Dirk Bogarde, Richard Attenborough, Julie Walters, Judi Dench, Quentin Tarantino and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Director of films including Performance, Don’t Look Now and The Witches, Roeg has attained legendary status in British film circles, as well as lasting international recognition. Working with Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Julie Christie, Anjelica Houston, Oliver Reed amongst others, his mix of sexual and psychedelic imagery established him as a supreme visual artist, creating films that have been experimental and provocative yet always accessible and unforgettable. In addition Roeg has excelled in all areas of film making, from cinematography to screenwriting, directing, editing and composing. He remains a lasting testament to innovation and individuality in cinema, a director whose films define an era of British cinema yet never seem to go out of style.

Roeg said of the honour: “This award has truly amazed me and certainly caught me a bit leftfooted. I’m sure the critics will understand when I say: on looking through and reading some of my old reviews, I’m torn between thanking you and forgiving you. But having slept on it, I’ll go with the positive and thank you all and hope that in the countdown for the decision of the ‘Critics’ Circle’ to give me a tribute, some old mathematical rule applied where two negatives can sometimes make a positive.”

Chairman of The Critics” Circle Film Section, Jason Solomons, added: “Nic Roeg’s films stand out as one of the most distinctive and influential bodies of work of any British film maker. I am thrilled that he can now join the list of illustrious honorees of the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Cinema – he adds mischief, daring and brilliance to it, as well as the sort of maverick artistic spirit that only cinema can liberate.”

The award will be presented to Nicolas Roeg at the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards in partnership with Virgin Atlantic on Thursday 19 January at BFI Southbank, where the Critics” Circle will also reveal its full list of annual award winners at the glittering ceremony. Nominations for all other award categories will be announced on Tuesday 20 December.

The 32 nd annual edition of the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards will again be in aid of their charity partner, the BFI National Archive, to help with the preservation and restoration of British film, in particular Hitchcock’s nine silent features, as part of the BFI’s landmark ‘Rescue the Hitchcock 9″ campaign.

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