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12 Years a Slave has won the most prizes at the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards last night.
It was named film of the year, while Chiwetel Ejiofor won actor of the year, and co-star Lupita Nyong’o won best supporting actress.
British director Steve McQueen said he had “felt so much love for this film in this country”.
The awards took place exactly four weeks before the Oscars in Hollywood.
12 Years a Slave is considered the front-runner for best picture, and it has nine nominations in total, including Steve McQueen for best director.
It also has 10 nominations for the Bafta Film Awards, two weeks away on February 16.
The London Critics’ Circle ceremony, at London’s May Fair Hotel on Sunday, began on a somber note as news broke of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death in New York.
When film critic Jason Solomons opened the awards by paying tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman, guests stood in spontaneous appreciation.
Steve McQueen’s film 12 Years A Slave took home film of the year at the Critic’ Circle Film Awards
Philip Seymour Hoffman won a best supporting actor award at last year’s event for his performance as a cult leader in The Master.
Among the stars on the red carpet were Steve Coogan, Naomie Harris, Andy Serkis, John Hurt and Gary Oldman – who was honoured with the Dilys Powell award for excellence in film.
Cate Blanchett was named actress of the year for her performance in Blue Jasmine and Judi Dench won British actress of the year.
Alfonso Cuaron was named director of the year for his 3D space thriller, Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. The film also took the best technical achievement award.
Clio Barnard’s low-budget drama The Selfish Giant, a contemporary English fable about two excluded schoolboys who start working for a dodgy local scrap dealer, was named British film of the year.
Conner Chapman, the teenage star of The Selfish Giant who was plucked from obscurity from his school in Bradford, was named young British performer of the year.
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London Critics’ Circle Film Awards 2014 winners in full:
Film of the Year
12 Years a Slave
Foreign-language Film of the Year
Blue Is the Warmest Color
Documentary of the Year
The Act of Killing
British Film of the Year
The Selfish Giant
Director of the Year
Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity
Screenwriter of the Year
Gary Oldman was presented with the Dilys Powell award for excellence in film
Ethan Coen & Joel Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis
Actor of the Year
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Actress of the Year
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Supporting Actor of the Year
Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips
Supporting Actress of the Year
Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
British Actor of the Year
James McAvoy – Filth / Trance / Welcome to the Punch
British Actress of the Year
Judi Dench – Philomena
Young British Performer of the Year
Conner Chapman – The Selfish Giant
Breakthrough British Filmmaker
Jon S. Baird – Filth
Technical Achievement Award
Gravity – Tim Webber, special effects
Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film
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This year’s Oscar nominations are to be announced later today.
12 Years a Slave, Gravity and American Hustle all expected to be in the running for best picture.
But the rest of the shortlist is up for grabs, amidst one of the most competitive fields in years.
Experts predict a full slate of 10 nominees, with Dallas Buyers Club and Captain Phillips among frontrunners.
Actor Chris Hemsworth and Oscars chief Cheryl Boone Isaacs will reveal the list at 05:38 local time.
The announcement will be streamed live on this page, with coverage starting at 05:30.
12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen’s hard-hitting historical drama, picked up the top honor at the Sunday’s Golden Globes, winning best film drama.
It is also the bookmakers’ favorite to win the Oscar for best picture, but David O. Russell’s crime caper American Hustle is rapidly closing in, after picking up three Globes, including best film in the comedy or musical category.
Its female stars Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence also picked up best actress and supporting actress prizes.
Jennifer Lawrence won the best actress Oscar last February for Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook and is generating a strong buzz this year in the supporting actress category for her scene-stealing role as Rosalyn, the unpredictable wife of conman Irving Rosenfeld, played by Christian Bale.
Gravity, the 3D film about astronauts stranded in space, picked up the prestigious best director Globe for Alfonso Cuaron, making him an Oscar frontrunner alongside Steve McQueen and David O. Russell.
The winners of the golden statuettes will be announced at the 86th Academy Awards on March 2 at the Dolby Theatre
Sandra Bullock is hotly tipped for a best actress nomination, while 12 Years a Slave‘s Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o are all expected to get acting nods.
The best picture category can consist of anything between five and 10 films. For the past two years there have been nine films on the shortlist.
Among the hopefuls are Martin Scorsese’s stockbroker shocker The Wolf of Wall Street, sea piracy thriller Captain Phillips and Nebraska, Alexander Payne’s black and white film about a cantankerous old man on the trail of a dubious lottery win.
Also expected to pick up a nomination is Dallas Buyers Club, the true story of Texas electrician Ron Woodroof, played by Matthew McConaughey, who was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1985 and given 30 days to live.
Although completely shut out of last week’s BAFTA nominations, Dallas Buyers Club is likely to fare better with the Academy’s 6,000 voters.
Matthew McConaughey was named best actor in a drama at the Globes while his co-star Jared Leto won the best supporting actor prize for his depiction of a transgender woman.
Bookies say Matthew McConaughey is closing in on Chiwetel Ejiofor in the race for the best actor Oscar.
Other names tipped to make the final cut are Robert Redford (All is Lost), Leonardo Di Caprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Bruce Dern (Nebraska) and Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips).
Tom Hanks, already a double Oscar winner, might get two acting nominations this year, the second for playing Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks, a film about Disney’s attempts to turn Mary Poppins into a movie in the 1960s.
Cate Blanchett appears hard to beat for the best actress Oscar and is 1/8 favorite to pick up the award for her role as a New York socialite fallen on hard times in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.
The best director shortlist could include Paul Greengrass and Steve McQueen.
The winners of the golden statuettes will be announced at the 86th Academy Awards on Sunday, March 2 at the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles. This year’s event is hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.
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Gravity movie leads this year’s BAFTAs, scoring 11 nominations including best film and best British film.
Sandra Bullock is up for best actress, while Alfonso Cuaron is nominated for best director.
Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave had 10 nods, with five in the main categories including best film, best director and best actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o also landed supporting nominations.
American Hustle equaled 12 Years a Slave‘s tally, with nominations in all the acting categories for its stars Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.
The 1970s drama, about two con artists who get entangled with the FBI, is also up for best film, with David O. Russell nominated for best director and original screenplay.
Chiwetel Ejiofor will compete for his award against Christian Bale, Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips, Bruce Dern for Nebraska and Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street.
The best actress category will see Sandra Bullock challenge Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine, Emma Thompson for Saving Mr. Banks and Judi Dench for Philomena.
The nominations saw Judi Dench set a BAFTA record, with her 15th acting nomination.
That puts her one ahead of Meryl Streep, who was overlooked in the best actress category for August: Osage County.
BAFTA 2014 winners will be announced at a ceremony at London’s Royal Opera House on February 16
Other movies competing for best film include Captain Phillips and Philomena, while the latter is also nominated for best British film alongside Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Saving Mr. Banks, The Selfish Giant and Rush.
Gravity, Saving Mr. Banks and Rush all qualified for the British film category because they were either filmed in the UK, utilized British effects companies or employed other British talent, from writers to producers.
The rules are set out by the BFI’s cultural test, which determines which films are eligible for UK tax relief.
The best director category mirrored that of the Directors Guild of America – which announced its film nominations on Tuesday. Both bodies shortlisted Steve McQueen, Alfonso Cuaron and David O. Russell alongside Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips and Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street.
Notable snubs in the acting categories included Robert Redford for sea drama All is Lost and Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club – both of whom have been tipped for Oscar consideration this year.
Winners will be announced at a ceremony at London’s Royal Opera House on February 16.
BAFTA 2014: Most nominated films
Gravity – 11
American Hustle – 10
12 Years a Slave – 10
Captain Phillips – 9
Behind the Candelabra – 5
Saving Mr. Banks – 5
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Italian film distributor BiM Distribuzione has apologized after releasing unauthorized posters which promoted white actors over black actors in Twelve Years A Slave.
Unofficial posters for the film gave prominence to white stars Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt over the film’s leading man, Chiwetel Ejiofor.
BiM Distribuzione apologized for the “inappropriate” promotional material.
“We are very proud of the film and regret any distraction this incident may have caused,” a statement said.
“We apologize for creating and releasing unauthorized posters for 12 Years A Slave in Italy featuring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender in a manner inconsistent with approved advertising materials,” said BiM on Friday.
BiM Distribuzione has apologized after releasing unauthorized posters which promoted white actors over black actors in Twelve Years A Slave
“All inappropriate materials have now been withdrawn.”
12 Years A Slave tells the true story of New Yorker Solomon Northup who was kidnapped and sold into the slave trade in 1841.
Protagonist Solomon Northup is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, earning him a Golden Globe nomination earlier this month.
Michael Fassbender, who has attracted strong notices for his supporting role, plays a sadistic plantation owner, while Brad Pitt – who is a producer on the film – has a minor role as a laborer.
The posters, which appeared across Italy earlier this week, prompted a widespread criticism on social media, for their focus on Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt.
Responding to criticism, sales agent Lionsgate’s Summit said, earlier in the week, that the posters in Italy were not authorized or approved by the producers of the film.
A statement said the company was “investigating and taking immediate action to stop the distribution of any unauthorized posters and to have those posters currently in the marketplace recalled”.
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