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Awards Season Commenceth: British Independent Film Awards Nominations


9 nominations. Not too bad for a first-time director. ()

9 nominations. Not too bad for a feature debut. (Source)

So it begins. And on a good note, too. I approve of most of these categories. I don’t think the BIFAs have a huge impact on other awards (it’s not like Tyrannosaur became widely known), but they appear to have excellent taste, and in any case, I’m ready to get down to business. (Nominees sourced from IndieWire.)

British Independent Film:

  • Calvary
  • The Imitation Game
  • Mr. Turner
  • Pride
  • ’71

Damn good lineup. Calvary, of course, is one of the year’s best films (my #3), and Pride (my #13) is quite a lovely work in its own right. On top of that, I’m very excited to see both Mr. Turner and ’71The Imitation Game feels like Oscar bait to me, and given how the BIFAs went in some of the other categories, I’m not sure why they didn’t just take Frank, which is an awesome film. But on balance, it’s still a really solid little category.


  • Lenny Abrahamson – Frank
  • Yann Demange – ’71
  • Mike Leigh – Mr. Turner
  • John Michael McDonagh – Calvary
  • Matthew Warchus – Pride

So Frank gets the Director nomination over Imitation. So I’m guessing they put Imitation in for Best Film because it’s prestigious, but nominated Frank elsewhere because it was the film they really loved.

Anyway, we’ve got, as of this writing, my #8 (Calvary), #11 (Frank), and #21 (Pride) ranked directing jobs on here, and based on what I’ve seen, Demange and Leigh aren’t too shabby either. So I can live with it.

Douglas Hickox Award for Debut Director:

  • Daniel and Matthew Wolfe – Catch Me Daddy
  • Hong Khaou – Lilting
  • Yann Demange – ’71
  • Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard – 20,000 Days on Earth
  • Morgan Matthews – X+Y

And here’s my #12 film, 20,000 Days on EarthOn top of that, we’ve got three films I previously knew little about:

  • Lilting is a drama about a woman, mourning the death of her son, and her relationship with his gay lover. I don’t know much, but reviews are good.
  • Catch Me Daddy is a thriller about a teenage runaway from a strictly religious family, who’s trying to evade her brother and the men her father has hired for her “honor killing”. It’ll pop up again; I’ll discuss it more there.
  • And X+Y is about a teenage math prodigy, extremely withdrawn, who starts to come out of his shell at a mathematics competition (I think that’s how it shakes out). I’ll also discuss it in more detail later.

Another good lineup. This has actually been a fine year for independent film. I’d probably go with either Forsyth and Pollard or the Wolfes, since Demange and his film are well covered elsewhere.


  • Calvary
  • Frank
  • The Imitation Game
  • Pride
  • ’71

Surprised Mr. Turner didn’t get in, since Mike Leigh is generally renowned for his scripts. But when you’ve got my #2, #6, and #8 (Calvary, Frank, and Pride) original screenplays in one place, I’m not inclined to complain.


  • Asa Butterfield – X+Y
  • Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
  • Brendan Gleeson – Calvary
  • Jack O’Connell – ’71
  • Timothy Spall – Mr. Turner

Gleeson’s my #3, and I’m sure Spall will be close by. O’Connell (who’s having one hell of a year) will probably impress. Cumberbatch was pretty much a given. As for Butterfield, I haven’t been that impressed by him to date (I thought he was quite underwhelming in Hugo, though he was a little better in Ender’s Game), but perhaps he has improved further? Let’s check out the trailer:

Okay, he looks like he does a pretty good job. Still, Domhnall Gleeson in Frank or Ben Whishaw in Lilting would’ve probably been just as good.


  • Sameena Jabeen Ahmed – Catch Me Daddy
  • Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Belle
  • Cheng Pei Pei – Lilting
  • Alicia Vikander – Testament of Youth

I’ve only seen Mbatha-Raw, but she’s great (she’s my #5, but it’s a surprisingly good year for Lead Actress). Ahmed, though, could give her a run for her money, since Catch Me Daddy looks really good and gives her what sounds like a hell of a role:

Looks good, no? I’ll keep an eye out. Pei Pei’s had a pretty cool career–she starred in Come Drink with Me, one of the greatest wuxia films, and had a major supporting role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (and won a Hong Kong Film Award for it). And Vikander (who I’ve liked well enough in what I’ve seen of her) is in a WWI drama about Vera Brittain, who lost her fiancée in the war and later became a pacifist. Could be baity. Could be good.

Still, my vote is for Mbatha-Raw or Ahmed.

Supporting Actor:

  • Michael Fassbender – Frank
  • Sean Harris – ’71
  • Ben Schnetzer – Pride
  • Andrew Scott – Pride
  • Rafe Spall – X+Y

Fuck yeah. Fassbender’s my #3 (and my #1, Joaquin Phoenix in The Immigrant, is arguably a lead). That performance, at this point in his career, was ballsy as hell. So glad he’s getting noticed for it. Schnetzer is really good too; I consider him a lead–he comes in at #26 in that ranking–but it’s such an ensemble piece, I understand his being here. Scott seems like an odd choice, though; he’s fine, but he doesn’t really stand out in the ensemble–Bill Nighy, Dominic West, and George MacKay would’ve all been better choices.

Spall is Butterfield’s teacher/mentor, who’s battling MS; could be a good showcase. (Part of the reason I wish Domhnall Gleeson had gotten a nomination is so two sets of fathers and sons could’ve been in competition.) And Harris…I’m not exactly sure what part he plays in the narrative, but he sounds like the crazy motherfucker of the film. So that’s cool.

Still, Fassbender should win this by a mile.

Supporting Actress:

  • Dorothy Atkinson – Mr. Turner
  • Sienna Guillory – The Goob
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal – Frank
  • Sally Hawkins – X+Y
  • Imelda Staunton – Pride

I’m so glad they nominated Gyllenhaal; not so much because she should win (she’s my #15), but because it shows support for a great movie. Staunton is also a good choice (my #14), but I’m not set on her as a winner (it’s the kind of film where no one dominates enough to really give a win-worthy performance).

Hawkins plays Butterfield’s mother in X+Y; it appears she does a fine job. Guillory’s in a film I’ve never even heard of: “A long hot summer in rural Norfolk and a rough coming of age for Goob Taylor, fighting with brutal,womanizing stock car racer Gene Womack for his mother’s attention, and falling for the exotic charms of a pretty foreign field worker.” (IMDb) Guillory, it would appear, plays the mother. So she’s pretty much an unknown quantity. (I didn’t see a trailer online, just a festival reel that wasn’t especially illuminating.)

But everything I’ve read about Mr. Turner suggests Atkinson is the one to beat, playing Turner’s housekeeper and the object of his prurient attentions. Potentially quite a heartbreaking performance. Just swap out Guillory or Hawkins for Sarah Gadon in Belle (who was incredible), and we’re golden.

Most Promising Newcomer:

  • Sameena Jabeen Ahmed – Catch Me Daddy
  • Cara Delevingne – The Face of an Angel
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Belle
  • Ben Schnetzer – Pride
  • Liam Walpole – The Goob

Walpole is the titular Goob. The Face of an Angel is a thriller by Michael Winterbottom (a fascinating director, Winterbottom) which is based on a real-life murder case. Not sure who Delevingne plays. Anyhow, if I was voting, I’d probably go with Ahmed or Schnetzer, and give Mbatha-Raw Best Actress.

Achievement in Production:

  • Catch Me Daddy
  • The Goob
  • Lilting
  • ’71
  • 20,000 Days on Earth

Not sure what this award specifically honors, but this seems like a good lineup. (They loved ’71, which is a good sign.)

Technical Achievement:

  • Dick Pope – Cinematography, Mr. Turner
  • Tat Radcliffe – Cinematography, ’71
  • Stephen Rennicks – Music, Frank
  • Robbie Ryan – Cinematography, Catch Me Daddy
  • Chris Wyatt – Editing, ’71

Not sure why they don’t have separate categories for each, but anyway. I’m leaning towards recognizing Frank‘s awesome music, but really, any of the others would be a fair choice.


  • Next Goal Wins
  • Night Will Fall
  • The Possibilities Are Endless
  • 20,000 Days on Earth
  • Virunga

Virunga is about the crises facing conservation efforts in the Congo, and sounds really good. Next Goal Wins is a bout the soccer team of American Samoa. Night Will Fall is about the documentaries made by the Allies of Nazi concentration camps after the war. The Possibilities Are Endless is about singer Edwyn Collins’ recovery from a stroke.

20,000 Days is awesome, but I’m leaning more towards Virunga.

International Independent Film:

  • The Babadook
  • Blue Ruin
  • Boyhood
  • Fruitvale Station
  • Ida

I’m stoked for The Babadook, and I’ve heard some pretty good things about Blue RuinBoyhood and Fruitvale Station are both good, but overrated–which leaves Ida, my #4 film of the year to date.

The Raindance Award:

  • The Beat Beneath My Feet¹
  • Film: The Movie…
  • Gregor
  • Keeping Rosy
  • Luna

This award apparently honors films that originate from the Raindance Festival and/or film school. I won’t detail all of these–you can read more about them on the Raindance website–but out of these, Luna sounds the most compelling.

So overall, the BIFAs seem to have done pretty well–there’s a good choice in every category, and a great choice in most. I’ll be excited to see who they honor on December 7.

¹The source article said The Earth Beneath My Feet, but as no film of that title was listed in the Raindance lineup, I must assume this is the film they meant.


3 thoughts on “Awards Season Commenceth: British Independent Film Awards Nominations

  1. Pingback: Awards upon Awards! Boston, Los Angeles, Boston Online, New York Online, plus Washington D.C. nominations and British Independent Winners | If you want the gravy...

  2. Pingback: British Independent Film Awards Nominees (2015) | If you want the gravy...

  3. Pingback: 2016 British Independent Film Awards Nominations | If you want the gravy...

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