British Independent Film Award Nominations: 2017

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Really a hell of a poster.

It’s BIFA time again!

I’ve covered the BIFA nominations the last three years, and this year will be only a partial exception; serious limitations on my time prevent me from doing so in as much detail as before, so I’ll switch things up a bit. I’ll post a link to the full list of nominees, and discuss in detail three films which dominated this year’s awards, two of which are among my most anticipated films of the coming months.

Here are the nominations in full.

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“I don’t know how you can run and plot at the same time.”

The Death of Stalin (13 Nominations): British Independent Film, Director, Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Simon Russell Beale), Supporting Actor (Steve Buscemi), Supporting Actress (Andrea Riseborough), Casting, Editing, Production Design, Costume Design, Make-Up & Hair Design, Music, Effects

I was profoundly disappointed to learn that The Death of Stalin will likely not make its American debut until next year, given my profound excitement for it; the combination of the director/co-writer of my beloved In the Loop, a great ensemble cast, and one of the most turbulent periods of Soviet history is just about irresistible.

As for the nominations, many of them seem quite fitting. Screenplay goes without saying, as does Casting; the nominations for Beale, Buscemi, and Riseborough are hardly surprising (they’d probably have nominated more if they could’ve); the Director nod is a nice testimony to Iannucci’s brisk, sharp helming; the Editing nomination suggests the various threads of the story are well-balanced, as they were in In the Loop.

Production and Costume Design are fitting, given the period setting, and I can’t see too much issue with the Make-Up nod. The Music nom is a little surprising, but maybe it has a nice score. The only one that really caught me off guard was the nomination for “Effects”; maybe CGI was used to help create the appearance of 50s Moscow? Or maybe there are ambitious set-pieces the trailers never hinted at? Who knows.

And of course, there’s the nomination for Best British Independent Film, which I can only assume is wholly merited. Can’t wait to see this.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (11 nominations): British Independent Film, Director, Screenplay, Actress (Frances McDormand), Supporting Actor (Woody Harrelson), Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell), Casting, Cinematography, Editing, Music, Sound

This, on the other hand, will definitely be opening this year, is quite possibly an Oscar front-runner, and will absolutely be devoured by myself.

The nominations mostly make perfect sense. A Martin McDonagh film not being nominated for its writing would be noteworthy (and concerning). McDormand is apparently amazing, as is Rockwell (Harrelson is also apparently good, but I’ve read that he’s in less of the film than the trailer would lead you to believe). It’s got a great cast. I’m sure it’s technically quite proficient. It might even have a good score!

The real question for me is how many of these nominations will be duplicated at my own awards. Hopefully quite a few.

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Lady Macbeth (15 nominations): British Independent Film, Director, Screenplay, Actress (Florence Pugh), Supporting Actress (Naomi Ackle), Casting, Cinematography, Production Design, Costume Design, Make-Up & Hair Design, Breakthrough Producer, Douglas Hickox Award for Debut Director, Debut Screenwriter, Most Promising Newcomer (Naomi Ackle), Most Promising Newcomer (Cosmo Jarvis)

You’ll note that 5 of those 15 nominations are in “Breakthrough”/”Debut” categories; without them, it still manages an impressive 10 nominations, but I suspect it will sweep the Breakthrough categories and win fairly few regular awards (a big reason I don’t include such categories in my own awards).

I probably should’ve seen this film during its theatrical run over the summer; I heard mostly good things about it, and especially about Florence Pugh’s performance, and the trailer didn’t look too bad, but I just wasn’t getting to that many movies…and frankly, the title put me off of it a bit. Maybe the film justifies it, but it seemed to me like a heavy-handed attempt to lend it weight.

Of course, I just did a little bit of research and discovered it was based on the novel Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, so, in the words of Col. Nathan R. Jessup, “Don’t I feel like the fucking asshole?”

I will be watching it before too long, though, either via streaming or physical rental. I can certainly see how the nominations for Cinematography, Production and Costume Design, and Make-Up & Hair Design are merited; it’s just a question of those nominations for Film, Director, and especially Screenplay. But I’m certainly eager to find out.

Other nominations of note:

  • The gay romance God’s Own Country earned nods for Film, Director, Screenplay, Actor (twice), and Supporting Actor, among others.
  • The film I Am Not a Witch, about a young Zambian girl accused of practicing witchcraft and sequestered in a “travelling witch camp”, is up for Film, Director, Screenplay, Actress, and several technical awards, among others.
  • All five nominees for Best British Independent Film are also nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay. I don’t know if that’s ever happened before.
  • A major surprise: Annette Bening, who was presumably a shoo-in for Best Actress for her turn as Gloria Grahame in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, fails to make the cut, despite the film’s nominations for Best Actor (Jamie Bell), Supporting Actress (Julie Walters), and Casting.
  • Despite respectable box-office on both sides of the Atlantic and good reviews, Their Finest, about the production of propaganda films during the Blitz, only manages two nominations: Best Effects and Debut Screenwriter.
  • Andy Serkis’ much-anticipated but poorly-received Breathe only gets nominated for Make-Up & Hair Design and Sound; Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy are shut out of the acting categories.
  • The nominees for Best International Independent Film are The Florida Project, Get Out, I Am Not Your Negro, Loveless, and The Square.
  • Goodbye Christopher Robin, another prestigious under-performer, gets only one nomination: Supporting Actress for Kelly Macdonald.

And that’s all, until the winners are announced on December 10.

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