BIFA Nominations Look To The Future

Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp are both BIFA nominated – but Song For Marion doesn’t open until next February.

Award nominations?  Surely those don’t start until the New Year?  True.  And false.  And don’t call me Shirley.

The British Independent Film Awards are always a step ahead of the pack, with their nominations in November and awards ceremony the following month.  Coming early, they certainly don’t follow any trends for the year’s films.  Whether they set any is open to question, although last year’s winners did include the documentary Senna and Paddy Considine’s directorial debut, Tyrannosaur, both of which went on to pick up BAFTAs.  So there’s a good chance of them being ahead of the game this year – in more senses than one.

Looking at the nominees list, I began to wonder if the BIFA jury are able to see into the future.  There’s a clutch of nominations for films that don’t actually go on general release in the UK until January or February next year.  Billy Connolly is up for Best Supporting Actor for Quartet, which opens on 4 January.  Olivia Colman is in contention for Best Supporting Actress for Hyde Park On Hudson, scheduled to open on 1 February.  And Vanessa Redgrave is in the Best Supporting Actress category and Terence Stamp has a Best Actor nod, both for Song For Marion, which opens on 8 February.

They all qualify for nominations by virtue of having been screened at the London Film Festival (full rules are available on the BIFA website).  But it does mean that, come 9 December, there could be winners accepting awards whose work isn’t due to be seen for at least a month or two.  And if any of them do win, presumably the audience at Old Billingsgate will be applauding the person and not their performance, because they are unlikely to have seen it.

This year’s short list is a mixed bag, containing some well-deserved nominations and a surprise or two.  Rufus Norris’ Broken leads the pack with a total of nine nominations, followed by Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio and Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers, each with seven and Bart Layton’s documentary, The Imposter, with six.  Interestingly, and somewhat surprisingly, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel sneaks in with five nods.

Andrea Riseborough is in contention for Best Actress for her excellent turn in the thriller, Shadow Dancer, while the under-rated Toby Jones is up for Best Actor for his role in the scary Berberian Sound Studio.  And, indeed, Olivia Colman gets a nod for her beautifully brittle Queen Elizabeth in Hyde Park On Hudson.

But there are some glaring omissions too.  Why no Shadow Dancer in the Best Film or Best Director categories?  This was a gripping, tense thriller that deserves more recognition – and the same can be said of Brid Brennan, who hasn’t made the short list for Best Supporting Actress.  Billy Connolly’s nominated for Quartet but, for my money, the best performance in the film belonged to Pauline Collins, and she’s nowhere to be seen on the Best Supporting Actress list.  And while I don’t quibble about Olivia Colman’s nomination for Hyde Park On Hudson, surely Sam West as her on-screen husband should have got a look-in as well?  Together, they very nearly steal the film right from under Bill Murray’s nose.

The BIFAs will be presented on Sunday, 9 December at a ceremony hosted by James Nesbitt (no repeat of last year’s performance from Chris O’Dowd, thankfully).  The full list of nominees can be found at And The Coops Review will check out the winners next month.


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