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UPDATED: 2016 British Independent Film Awards Nominations and Winners

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If it won the Palme d’Or, it should win on its home turf easily…right? (Source)

I’ve profiled the BIFA nominations for 2014 and 2015, and there’s no reason not to continue the tradition. I’ve found their choices to be fairly solid in the past, so let’s see what they’ve got for us this time.

Additional details on the BIFA’s official site.

Best British Independent Film:

  • American Honey
  • Couple in a Hole
  • I, Daniel Blake
  • Notes on Blindness
  • Under the Shadow

Weird to think of Under the Shadow as British since it’s set in Iran and the dialogue is wholly in Farsi, but here it is.

American Honey is a good film (a high *** and my #33 of the year to date), and Under the Shadow is very good (a solid ***½ and my #14). I, Daniel Blake I’m quite looking forward to (and consider it the frontrunner here). The other two I don’t know at all.

Couple in a Hole is a rural-set psychological thriller, and Notes on Blindness is a documentary about academic John Hull, who after going blind made a detailed audio diary of his condition. It’s apparently quite good.

Best International Independent Film:

  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople
  • Manchester By the Sea
  • Moonlight
  • Mustang
  • Toni Erdmann

Good list here. Manchester, Moonlight, and Toni are all among my 10 most anticipated films of the year. And I’ve seen the other two: Hunt is a charming film, a lower ***½ for me but a **** for others, and Mustang (which I count towards last year) is a powerful family drama with an impressive performance from its young lead, and earns a solid ***½.

Any of these could win. It’s a really strong list.

Best Director:

  • Andrea Arnold, American Honey
  • Babak Anvari. Under the Shadow
  • Ken Loach, I, Daniel Blake
  • Peter Middleton & James Spinney, Notes on Blindness
  • Ben Wheatley, Free Fire

Arnold is my #15 (a good job but uneven), and Anvari is my #6 (very solid horror/thriller direction). Loach probably came along with his film (I’m sure his direction is fine, but this seems more like a writing/acting showcase), Middleton and Spinney likely did an excellent job (though I don’t rank documentary direction alongside dramatic direction), and Wheatley has so far impressed me as a director, if less so as a storyteller.

Not sure who wins here.

Best Screenplay:

  • Adult Life Skills
  • American Honey
  • I Am Not a Serial Killer
  • I, Daniel Blake
  • Under the Shadow

American Honey is to a degree let down by its writing, making this nomination a bit of a surprise; it’s my #10 for Original Screenplay, but more because of a lack of competition. Under the Shadow is a good script and my #6, though I’d argue the direction and acting are more impressive.

Adult Life Skills sounds fun; it’s an arrested-development comedy with a female protagonist for a change. I Am Not a Serial Killer is about a morbid teenager on the trail of a local murderer. Could be good.

I have to assume I, Daniel Blake wins this as well. Largely because nothing else feels like a strong choice.

Best Actor:

  • Steve Brandon, My Feral Heart
  • Michael Fassbender, Trespass Against Us
  • Dave Johns, I, Daniel Blake
  • Shia LaBoeuf, American Honey
  • Max Records, I Am Not a Serial Killer

Only performance I’ve seen here is LaBoeuf, and he’s good, but for my money should be considered Supporting (where I rank him 8th).

Brandon plays a young man with Down syndrome adjusting to life in a group home; Fassbender plays a member of a criminal family trying to break free; Johns is Daniel Blake (duh), and Records is not a serial killer. (He was also Max in Where the Wild Things Are, though he hasn’t done a whole lot since.)

Not sure who wins. Either Johns does in a Daniel Blake sweep, or…I don’t know.

Best Actress:

  • Kate Dickie, Couple in a Hole
  • Sasha Lane, American Honey
  • Narges Rashidi, Under the Shadow
  • Hayley Squires, I, Daniel Blake
  • Jodie Whittaker, Adult Life Skills

Lane is quite strong and my #5; Rashidi is also quite strong and is my #6.

Dickie impressed me in The Witch (she’s the mother), Squires is probably the frontrunner based on her film, and Whittaker likely gives a nice comic turn which could be a surprise winner. Who knows!

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Jamie Dornan, Anthropoid
  • Brett Goldstein, Adult Life Skills
  • Sean Harris, Trespass Against Us
  • Arinzé Kene, The Pass
  • Christopher Lloyd, I Am Not a Serial Killer

Yes, they nominated Christian Grey (for a film I considered seeing, no less), for a World War II thriller about assassinating Heydrich.

And they nominated Sean Harris for the third year in a row (previously, somewhat inexplicably, for ’71, and for playing Macduff in the Fassbender/Cotillard Macbeth I still need to see).

The Pass is about a Premier League footballer coming to terms with his homosexuality. Kene plays his friend and teammate who becomes the object of the titular pass.

And yes, that’s the same Christopher Lloyd who played Doc Brown and Judge Doom. Last seen in The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure.

I’ll root for Lloyd for sentimental reasons.

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Gemma Arterton, The Girl With All the Gifts
  • Naomie Harris, Our Kind of Traitor
  • Avin Manshadi, Under the Shadow
  • Terry Pheto, A United Kingdom
  • Shana Swash, My Feral Heart

The Girl With All the Gifts sounds cool – a zombie film about a group of children who are infected with the zombie virus but retain their human intelligence. Arterton plays their teacher.

Harris (who’ll probably get an Oscar nomination for Moonlight) is in a John Le Carré adaptation that got okay reviews but pretty much came and went.

Really, really glad they nominated Manshadi. She’s 6 or 7 and gives a really solid performance. I rank her #10 on my list, but she’s a strong #10.

A United Kingdom is Amma Asante’s new film, a true story about a prince from what would become Botswana (David Oyelowo) who marries an Englishwoman (Rosamund Pike), and the ensuing controversy. The cast alone makes this appealing. (Pheto plays Oyelowo’s sister.)

One question: where the hell is Riley Keough for American Honey? She gave the best performance in the whole damn film!

Outstanding Achievement in Craft:

  • Shaheen Baig, Free Fire – Casting
  • Seb Barker, The Girl With All the Gifts – Special Effects
  • Paul Monaghan & Mat Whitecross, Supersonic – Editing
  • Robbie Ryan, American Honey – Cinematography
  • Joakim Sundström, Notes on Blindness – Sound

Rooting for Ryan all the way. His work is a close #2 on my list (and was #1 until I saw Certain Women last night).

Most Promising Newcomer:

  • Steve Brandon, My Feral Heart
  • Dave Johns, I, Daniel Blake
  • Sennia Nanua, The Girl With All the Gifts
  • Hayley Squires, I, Daniel Blake
  • Letitia Wright, Urban Hymn

I’m assuming Nanua has all the gifts.

Figuring Johns wins this.

Urban Hymn sounds interesting; it’s about a young woman trying to rise above the violence of the 2011 riots (which were rooted in racial tensions) via her singing abilities. Wright is the protagonist, of course.

Douglas Hickox Award for Debut Director:

  • Babak Anvari, Under the Shadow
  • Alice Lowe, Prevenge
  • Pete Middleton & James Spinney, Notes on Blindness
  • Adam Smith, Trespass Against Us
  • Rachel Tunnard, Adult Life Skills

Gotta figure Anvari or Middleton & Spinney win this, since they got nominated for Best Director as well.

Prevenge, by the way, sounds awesome: a pregnant woman goes on a killing spree, supposedly at the command of her unborn child. Lowe wrote, directed, and starred in it…whilst pregnant.

I’m rooting for her on general principle.

Best Debut Screenwriter:

  • John Cairns & Michael McCartney, A Patch of Fog
  • Hope Dickson Leach, The Levelling
  • Simon Farnaby & Julian Barratt, Mindhorn
  • Ed Talfan, The Passing/Yr Ymadawiad
  • Rachel Tunnard, Adult Life Skills

Nothing much to say about these. The Passing sounds kind of interesting.

I’d assume Adult Life Skills wins this because it’s been nominated elsewhere.

Breakthrough Producer:

  • Michael Berliner, Adult Life Skills
  • Mike Brett, Jo-Jo Ellison & Steve Jamison, Notes on Blindness
  • Paul Fegan, Where You’re Meant to Be
  • Camille Gatin, The Girl With All the Gifts
  • Dionne Walker, The Hard Stop

Best British Short:

  • Jacked
  • Mother
  • Over
  • Rate Me
  • The Wrong End of the Stick

Jacked has the most interesting story. Over sounds like it has the most interesting technique.

The Discovery Award (Presented by Raindance):

  • Black Mountain Poets
  • The Darkest Universe
  • The Ghoul
  • Gozo
  • The Greasy Strangler

Oh, my God.

I’m just going to talk about The Greasy Strangler, because holy fuck.

It’s something, all right. About an old man who gives fraudulent disco walking tours with his put-upon son, and who slathers himself in grease every night and strangles those who have upset him.

And I’ve only just scratched the surface of how fucking strange this film is. It really does evoke the spirit of vintage John Waters, for good and ill.

It’s not a great film. It’s a solid ***, but it tends to repeat itself (if you don’t think the phrase “bullshit artist” is inherently funny, you’re in for a long ride) and the ending doesn’t really work. That said, it’s really fucking funny when it’s funny, and it’s so intensely dedicated to its grotesque aesthetic that I have to respect it.

And major props to Michael St. Michaels, who plays the father; he really throws himself into the role and is a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

I don’t know if this will win, but I’m really fucking glad it got nominated. Just because it exists.

I don’t think there’ll much to announce until the start of December, when the awards will start coming thick and fast. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll start to have some idea of where the Academy will go.

WINNERS:

Best British Independent Film: American Honey

Strange they went with the least British option.

Best International Independent Film: Moonlight

No surprise there.

Best Director: Andrea Arnold, American Honey

It’s a solid job of directing. I can see it.

Best Screenplay: Under the Shadow

Glad they didn’t go with American Honey, since I wasn’t all that fond of the writing there, but…eh? I don’t get why I, Daniel Blake didn’t win this in a landslide.

Best Actor: Dave Johns, I, Daniel Blake

Makes sense.

Best Actress: Sasha Lane, American Honey

They went all in on it. Makes sense. And she is good.

Best Supporting Actor: Brett Goldstein, Adult Life Skills

Fine.

Best Supporting Actress: Avin Manshadi, Under the Shadow

She does a really strong job. Definitely deserved (especially since they overlooked Riley Keough).

Outstanding Achievement in Craft: Robbie Ryan, American Honey – Cinematography

Absolutely deserved. He did a hell of a job.

Most Promising Newcomer: Hayley Squires, I, Daniel Blake

Since Lane was going to win Actress, I’m guessing this was at least partially a way to honor both her and Johns.

Douglas Hickox Award for Debut Director: Babak Anvari, Under the Shadow

I can get behind it.

Best Debut Screenwriter: Rachel Tunnard, Adult Life Skills

I figured she’d win since the film got a bunch of other nods.

Breakthrough Producer: Camille Gatin, The Girl With All the Gifts

Cool. I still want to see that film.

Best Documentary: Notes on Blindness

I actually forgot to cover this category when I wrote up these awards. But this was clearly going to win.

Best British Short: Jacked

It sounded like the most interesting one story-wise. So this works for me.

The Discovery Award: The Greasy Strangler

Oh, FUCK YEAH!

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