'Best Exotic,' 'The Imposter' among British Independent Film Award nominees

Posted by · 6:25 am · November 5th, 2012

Last year, the British Independent Film Awards — the UK industry’s answer to the Spirit Awards, though the chasm between independent and studio product here is a narrower one — made the most of a banner year for British cinema, with citations aplenty for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” “Shame,” “Tyrannosaur,” “Weekend,” “Kill List” and the like.

2012 has been a bit less bountiful, and that’s reflected in a slate of BIFA nods that reads a tad repetitively, with a small handful of films dominating the list. “Broken,” a debut feature from acclaimed theater director Rufus Norris that was rather indifferently received at Cannes in the spring, leads the field with eight nominations, while “Berberian Sound Studio,” “Sightseers” and “The Imposter” are close behind with seven apiece. Lest that field strike some as a little too niche, meanwhile, crossover smash “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” holds up the more mainstream end of the independent spectrum, nabbing five nominations, including Best Film — a showing that bodes well for its BAFTA chances in a few months’ time.

“Best Exotic” also got a trio of acting nods, for Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith — who had to be content with just the one mention, as fellow bluehair-bait item “Quartet” received a solitary nomination for Billy Connolly. (Completing the run of old-skewing comedies, “Song for Marion” got three mentions, including ones for Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave.) 

Balancing out the veteran contingent is “Ginger & Rosa,” which earned Elle Fanning her first Best Actress nomination of the season, as well as a supporting bid for her young co-star Alice Englert (Jane Campion’s daughter, incidentally) and a well-deserved technical nod for genius cinematographer Robbie Ryan. Fanning isn’t the only Yank in the Brits’ midst, as Meryl Streep also landed in the Best Actress field for “The Iron Lady” — a surprising call, given that the Margaret Thatcher biopic opened in the UK before several titles that qualified for last year’s BIFA Awards.

If the list seems a little thin this year, however, that’s not to say a number of the films that made the cut aren’t outstanding. I’m particularly delighted by the robust showing for “Berberian Sound Studio,” an eerie, technically dazzling homage to 1970s Italian ‘giallo’ horror cinema that was a UK critical favorite in the summer — you can read my Variety rave here — but is unlikely to be on BAFTA’s radar. And it’s gratifying to see that Bart Layton’s audacious, inventive “The Imposter” — the year’s top-grossing doc in the UK — hasn’t been confined to the documentary ghetto; like “Senna” last year, it’s been admitted to the top categories, and deservedly so.

It’ll be interesting to see if this genre-melding piece impresses the Academy’s notoriously sticky documentary branch. Meanwhile, one of its most high-profile competitors for doc honors this season, “Searching for Sugar Man,” cropped up in a diverse Best International Independent Film category, alongside “Amour,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Rust and Bone” and “The Hunt.”

The winners will be determined by a 16-person jury that includes such luminaries as actor Tom Hiddleston and Oscar-winning “King’s Speech” producer Iain Canning, and presented at a ceremony in London in December 9. The full list of nominees is as follows: 

Best British Independent Film
“Berberian Sound Studio”
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
“The Imposter”

Best Director
Peter Strickland, “Berberian Sound Studio”
John Madden, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
Rufus Norris, “Broken”
Bart Layton, “The Imposter”
Ben Wheatley, “Sightseers”

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed, “Ill Manors”
Toby Jones, “Berberian Sound Studio”
Steve Oram, “Sightseers”
Tim Roth, “Broken”
Terence Stamp, “Song for Marion”

Best Actress
Judi Dench, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
Elle Fanning, “Ginger & Rosa”
Alice Lowe, “Sightseers”
Andrea Riseborough, “Shadow Dancer”
Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”

Best Supporting Actor
Billy Connolly, “Quartet”
Domnhall Gleeson, “Shadow Dancer”
Rory Kinnear, “Broken”
Cillian Murphy, “Broken”
Tom Wilkinson, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

Best Supporting Actress
Olivia Colman, “Hyde Park on Hudson”
Eileen Davies, “Sightseers”
Alice Englert, “Ginger & Rosa”
Vanessa Redgrave, “Song for Marion”
Maggie Smith, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

Best Screenplay
Peter Strickland, “Berberian Sound Studio”
Mark O’Rowe, “Broken”
Abi Morgan, “The Iron Lady”
Alice Lowe, Steve Oram and Amy Jump, “Sightseers”
Paul Andrew Williams, “Song for Marion”  

Best International Independent Film
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“The Hunt”
“Rust and Bone”
“Searching for Sugar Man”

Best Documentary
“Dreams of a Life”
“The Imposter”
“London: The Modern Babylon”
“Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir”

Best Technical Achievement
Nic Knowland (cinematography), “Berberian Sound Studio”
Joakim Sundstrom and Stevie Haywood (sound design), “Berberian Sound Studio”
Electric Wave Bureau (music), “Broken”
Robbie Ryan (cinematography), “Ginger & Rosa”
Andrew Hulme (editing), “The Imposter”

Best Debut Director (Douglas Hickox Award)
Ben Drew, “Ill Manors”
Sally El Hosaini, “My Brother the Devil”
Bart Layton, “The Imposter”
Rufus Norris, “Broken”
Rowan Athale, “Wasteland”

Most Promising Newcomer
Zawe Ashton, “Dreams of a Life”
Paul Brannigan, “The Angels’ Share”
James Floyd, “My Brother the Devil”
Eloise Laurence, “Broken”
Elliott Tittensor, “Spike Island”

Best Achievement in Production
“Berberian Sound Studio”
“Ill Manors”
“The Imposter”
“The Sweeney”

Raindance Award
“City Slacker”
“Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet”
“Love Tomorrow”

Best Short Film

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