Homegrown experimentalism reigned supreme at the London Critics’ Circle awards, which gave its top honours to Jonathan Glazer’s radical Holocaust film, The Zone of Interest – and an equal number to Andrew Haigh’s devastating ghost romance, All of Us Strangers.
The film “The Zone of Interest” won awards for best picture and best director. It tells the story of Hedwig and Rudolph Höss, who lived next door to Auschwitz where Rudolph was the camp commandant, and their idealized domestic life.
Glazer expressed gratitude to his critics, audiences, and colleagues, but he emphasized that his wife played the most vital role in his success.
According to James Wilson, the producer, the film raises a question about “selective empathy.” This refers to our tendency to prioritize the well-being and protection of certain individuals over others. In today’s world, it is clear that this is still an issue.
Wilson reiterated that it should be understood that individuals in both “Ukraine and southern Israel” are equally deserving of empathy, just like those in Gaza, Yemen, or any other location.
The movie also won the award for technical achievement in music and sound. Mica Levi and Johnnie Burn were recognized for their exceptional soundtrack, which aims to portray the hidden horrors within the camp.
Levi addressed the audience and linked the film to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. They expressed that working on the film has been a monumental experience for them and their friends. They acknowledged the importance of the current time and expressed their hope for a ceasefire and positive change.
In the movie All of Us Strangers, Andrew Scott portrays a screenwriter who starts a new romantic relationship while also reconnecting with his deceased parents. The film won the Attenborough award for the best British/Irish film of the year, as well as best actor for Scott’s performance.
Scott told the audience, “This is absolutely fantastic…it has truly elevated our film’s launch and has had a significant impact.”
He acknowledged the film’s success as the highest-grossing movie in the Irish box office, as well as its top spot in the UK. He remarked, “For a romance between two men, it has proven to be significant. Do not underestimate the profitability of such films.”
He proceeded to express gratitude towards his fellow actors Claire Foy and Jamie Bell, calling them “my attractive mother and father,” and also mentioning the “equally attractive” Paul Mescal. He then thanked Haigh for giving him the opportunity to be a part of a film that has evoked such deep emotional responses. He stated, “I have never experienced such sincere and unfiltered reactions from audiences before.”
Scott concluded his speech by emotionally acknowledging his parents, saying, “I have thought of them every single day.”
Upon receiving the award for film of the year, Haigh expressed gratitude towards critics for their “generous reception” and for “forming personal connections” with the film.
In 2023, Mescal received the British/Irish Performer award for his collective projects. He has also been featured in God’s Creatures, Foe, and Carmen in the last year. Mescal expressed gratitude to the voters for supporting films like Strangers that deserve recognition. He specifically mentioned his co-stars, Scott and Haigh, and called working on the film “a tremendous privilege”.
Although The Zone of Interest is being considered for five Academy Awards next month, All of Us Strangers did not receive a single nomination. While both films are also nominated for Baftas, All of Us Strangers received six nominations, but Scott was not recognized, causing a lot of criticism.
Emma Stone was awarded best actress for her role in Poor Things, solidifying her slight advantage over Lily Gladstone from Killers of the Flower Moon in the race for the Oscars. Da’Vine Joy Randolph took home the prize for best supporting actress for The Holdovers, maintaining her winning streak in all previous awards shows this season.
Surprisingly, the award for supporting actor was given to Charles Melton for his role in May December.
The awards received by Glazer and Haigh’s films overshadowed Oppenheimer’s predictions of winning the Oscars, leaving him without any recognition. Similarly, Barbie and Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon also went home empty-handed.
Justine Triet and Arthur Harari were honored with the screenwriting prize for their work on Anatomy of a Fall, while Mstyslav Chernov received the documentary award for 20 Days in Mariupol. In his acceptance speech, Chernov expressed his belief that “film has the ability to shape our understanding of history and influence our choices for the better.”
Celine Song’s Past Lives won the award for foreign-language film of the year, beating out both The Zone of Interest and Anatomy of a Fall. Meanwhile, Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron received the prize for best animated film.
Jeffrey Wright, who received an Oscar nomination, was given the Dilys Powell Award for his outstanding work in film by American Fiction director Cord Jefferson. At the same time, Colman Domingo, who competed against Wright, was honored with the first ever Derek Malcolm Award for his innovative approach, named after the late film critic for The Guardian.
The movie “How to Have Sex” received two awards: one for international breakthrough performance for Mia McKenna-Bruce and another for British/Irish breakthrough film-maker for writer/director Molly Manning Walker, called the Philip French Award.
Lola Campbell was also a winner in the young performer category for her role in Scrapper, while Natalie Cubides-Brady, the director of The Veiled City, took home an award for her short film.
The London Critics’ Circle is the oldest critics’ group in the UK, consisting of 210 members. It is one of the few award shows left before the upcoming Baftas in two weeks. The Oscars for this year will take place three weeks later on March 10.