'Skyfall' wins big at Empire Awards as Helen Mirren sticks up for the ladies

Posted by · 4:38 am · March 25th, 2013

There was a time, not too long ago, when the Oscars would have taken place on this past weekend. With the season having been mercifully shortened, however, it’s left to Britain’s Empire Awards, as voted by readers of the eponymous movie magazine, to put a bow on things — and with Jameson as their chief sponsor, they make more of a party of it than most.

As you’d expect with a public-voted awards ceremony, it was the biggest hit in UK box office history that emerged victorious, as “Skyfall” took the Best Film prize, as well as Best Director for Sam Mendes. Mendes, who recently ruled himself out of directing the next James Bond entry, was also, perhaps somewhat superfluously, rewarded with an honorary Empire Inspiration Award, which he accepted by paying tribute to his own filmmaking inspirations, including Paul Thomas Anderson, Ingmar Bergman and Martin Scorsese.

Still, not everyone at the ceremony was lavishing Mendes with praise. Helen Mirren, who was there to accept another career achievement honor, the Empire Legend Award, offered some pointed remarks in her speech about Mendes’s all-male list of heroes:

“I don”t want to unduly pick on Sam Mendes, but when he spoke about his inspirations earlier this evening, I”m afraid not a single one of the people he mentioned was a woman … Hopefully in five or ten years, when Sam”s successor is collecting their Inspiration Award, the list will be slightly more balanced in terms of its sexual make-up. In the meantime, this one is for the girls.”

Some might say that’s a bit rich coming from an actress who has made only one film with a female director — Julie Taymor’s “The Tempest” — in 15 years, but the sentiment seems to have been appreciated. The Empire Awards themselves have a tendency to celebrate male-driven blockbusters, so she chose a canny place to make this statement. 

There certainly aren’t a lot of women in the film that fell just behind “Skyfall” as the night’s most celebrated. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” took the Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film award, but more surprising was Martin Freeman’s Best Actor win — in a field that included Daniel Day-Lewis, no less. Jennifer Lawrence, meanwhile, scooped another win for Best Actress — but for “The Hunger Games,” not “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Full list of winners below: 

Best Film: “Skyfall”

Best Director: Sam Mendes, “Skyfall”

Best Actor: Martin Freeman, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, “The Hunger Games”

Best British Film: “Sightseers”

Best Male Newcomer: Tom Holland, “The Impossible”

Best Female Newcomer: Samantha Barks, “Les Misérables” 

Art of 3D Award: “Dredd 3D”

Best Comedy: “Ted”

Best Thriller: “Headhunters”

Best Horror Film: “The Woman in Black”

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”

Empire Legend Award: Helen Mirren

Empire Inspiration Award: Sam Mendes

Empire Hero Award: Daniel Radcliffe

Outstanding Contribution Award: Danny Boyle

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