And the award goes to...

The Cultural Capital annual film awards pick out the best, worst and most unlikely movie moments of

In recent weeks, voices have been clamouring to know the outcome of 2011 New Statesman Cultural Capital film awards. Admittedly, these voices have been located exclusively inside my own head but, hey, what can you do except keep taking the medication? So here it is at last without further delay: an awards ceremony with no envelopes, tearful speeches, goodie bags or Ricky Gervais -- guaranteed!

Film of the year
A Separation

Honourable mentions
Le quattro volte, Meek's Cutoff, The Portuguese Nun, Bridesmaids, Ballast, Weekend, Neds, Love Like Poison, The Fighter, Sleeping Beauty, Snowtown, Dreams of a Life, Treacle Jr, The Guard, Rango.

Worst Film of the Year
Rowan Joffe's 1960s-set adaptation of Brighton Rock, which rendered unintelligible Graham Greene's fierce, lean novel and subjected it to the kind of wanton assault that Pinkie himself might have performed with a switchblade. Runner-up: Roland Emmerich's laughably dumb Anonymous, a would-be mystery asking whether Shakespeare was the true author of the canon attributed to him. The bigger mystery was how such a dazzling cast (Vanessa Redgrave, Mark Rylance, David Thewlis, Rafe Spall, Derek Jacobi) got mixed up in this tosh.

The "Good Film, Shame about the Ending" Award
The Tree of Life. The reunion of departed souls on a beach wasn't clever when it was used 20 years ago in Longtime Companion, and it hasn't gained poignancy or profundity in the interim. Runner-up: Kill List.

The "Good Sequel, Shame about (most of) the preceding instalments" Award
The stirring and surprising Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

Most Inexplicably Praised Film of the Year
A tie: Midnight in Paris and Drive.

Best Use of the Tomatina festival in a motion picture
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Runner-up: We Need to Talk About Kevin.

The Clockwork Orange/"Singin' in the Rain" Award for Previously Innocuous Song Corrupted For All Time By Its Use in a Disturbing Film
Tiny Tim's "Tiptoe Through the Tulips", as used in the 80% terrifying ghost story Insidious. I didn't like that song before and I don't like it now -- but for entirely different reasons.

The Jackie Brown/"Across 110th St" Award for Reappropriating a Well-Known Song to Inventive Effect.
The Salt of Life, Gianni Di Gregorio's life-affirming comedy, for the inspired use of the Pixies' "Here Comes the Man" in its final montage. Runner-up: "Greensleeves" in Love Like Poison.

Best Use of an Interval
Jihne Mera Dil Luteya. I'm continually astonished by the inventive ways in which Indian cinema exploits the convention of the interval; why don't western filmmakers take advantage of the opportunities it presents for cranking up tension and reinvigorating film structure? The identity of the main candidate for paternity in this fun if overlong "who's the daddy?" comedy-drama appeared to be revealed on the cusp of the interval -- only for that supposed revelation to be turned on its head when the audience returned 10 minutes later clutching tubs of Double Chocolate Chip.

Best Newcomers
Acting: Tom Cullen (Weekend), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Conor McCarron (Neds), Alex Shaffer (Win Win).
Directing: Lance Hammer (Ballast), Justin Kurzel (Snowtown), Julia Leigh (Sleeping Beauty), Will Sharpe & Tom Kingsley (Black Pond).

Most Heartening Comeback
The writer-director Jamie Thraves, whose inquisitive, bittersweet comedy Treacle Jr arrived a full decade after his debut The Low Down (with only the neglected, straight-to-DVD Patricia Highsmith adaptation The Cry of the Owl in between). Runner-up: the actor Chris Langham, returning from disgrace with an unhinged performance in the disquieting comedy Black Pond.

The Kristen Wiig Award For Imminent Superstardom
So named because last December on this site I expressed a wish to see Kristen Wiig receive the role and acclaim she deserved -- only for that wish to be granted tenfold when she co-wrote and starred in the gleeful Bridesmaids. Feeling as giddy as Aladdin after his first encounter with the genie, I'm now going to put forward the British actress Juno Temple, who followed small parts in films including Atonement and Greenberg with a dazzling turn this year in Gregg Araki's apocalyptic horror-comedy Kaboom; as a perky partygoer with confidence and coolness to burn, she stole the show and invited comparison with Judy Holliday (well, from this writer at least). Expect to see her next year in William Friedkin's screen version of Tracy Letts's play Killer Joe.

Most Touching Screen Romance
Make that bromance: Seth Rogen and Jay Chou, in the much-reviled The Green Hornet, were positively twinkle-eyed together. Runner-up: Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the "cancer comedy" 50/50.

Best Aspect Ratio
4:3 aka Academy ratio aka the square frame aka "Hey! Where's the rest of the screen gone? Somebody fetch the projectionist!" As seen in Wuthering Heights, Meek's Cutoff and The Artist. It's what all the coolest cinema screens are wearing this year.

Best Score
Last year it was Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's score for David Fincher's The Social Network. This year it's Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's score for David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Most Unlikely Showdown
Tom Hollander vs Eric Bana in Hanna. That's right: it's Rev opening a can of whup-ass on the Hulk!

Best Twist
The Skin I Live In. You mean he was... so she is... and that's why... wooaahh!

 

 

 

Ryan Gilbey is the New Statesman's film critic. He is also the author of It Don't Worry Me (Faber), about 1970s US cinema, and a study of Groundhog Day in the "Modern Classics" series (BFI Publishing). He was named reviewer of the year in the 2007 Press Gazette awards.

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I didn't expect to have to choose between a boyfriend and Judi Dench - but it happened

He told me I'd spoiled the cruise by not paying him enough attention. But what was I to do when Dame Judi Dench asked for a chat?

This happened around 20 years ago, in the days when a new boyfriend was staying at my house. One quite memorable mid-morning, the phone rang while we were in bed and it was the editor of the Times; then it rang again (when we were still in bed) and it was Dame Judi Dench. Yes, Judi Dench.

I was as surprised as anyone would be. True, I had recently written a radio monologue for her (about a wistful limpet stuck on a rock), but I hadn’t attended the recording, so I had never met her, or expected ever to hear her say, “Hello, is that Lynne Truss?” in that fabulous Dame Judi voice that only she possesses.

She said that she and her husband, Michael, were often invited to perform public readings; could I help by writing something? Stunned, I said that I would love to. She gave me her number. I hung up.

I can’t remember why I didn’t jump straight out of bed to start work on the Dame Judi project. But what I do remember is that when the phone rang yet again, we ignored it, on the grounds that, post-Judi, it could only be a disappointment.

A few months later, I was invited on a winter cruise, sailing from Colombo in Sri Lanka to Singapore. I took the boyfriend. It was only when we were changing planes at 3am that I spotted, among the other dog-tired passengers, Dame Judi with a group of friends.

Nervously, I went and said hello, what a coincidence. She said that we must talk. Then the holiday began and the boyfriend and I had a wonderful time. We met nice people and enjoyed the ship, although we consistently failed to identify our allotted muster station.

At the end of ten days, we were sitting on deck at Singapore, when I said, “Well, wasn’t that lovely?”

The boyfriend took me aback by saying, “Actually, glad you asked. No, it wasn’t.” I had spoiled the whole experience, he said, by continually talking to other people when I should have been talking to him.

I was very upset. All this time, he’d been unhappy? Casting my mind back, I realised it was true that I had made friends on board (and he hadn’t); also, at dinner, I had openly talked to the person sitting beside me, because I thought you were supposed to.

And now I stood accused of cruise-ruining! “I’ll get us some tea,” I said. “Oh, yes?” he fumed. “You’ll be gone for an hour, as usual.” And I said “No, I won’t. I promise.”

And so I went inside, wiping away my tears, and someone started chatting to me and I squeaked, “Can’t stop.” After that, I just slalomed through the throng with my head down.

Then, as I re-emerged into the sunlight with a prompt, relationship-saving cup and saucer in each hand, there was Judi Dench, and she said, “Shall we have our little chat now?” 

This article first appeared in the 26 May 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit odd squad