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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Former MP Bob Marshall-Andrews: Why I’m leaving Labour and joining the Lib Dems

A former political ally of Jeremy Corbyn explains why he is leaving Labour after nearly 50 years.

I’m leaving home. It’s a very hard thing to do. All of my natural allegiances have been to Labour, and never had I contemplated leaving the party – not even in the gloomy years, when we were fighting Iraq and the battles over civil liberties. I have always taken the view that it’s far better to stay within it. But it has just gone too far. There has been a total failure to identify the major issues of our age.

The related problems of the environment, globalisation and the migration of impoverished people are almost ignored in favour of the renationalisation of the railways and mantras about the National Health Service. The assertion that Labour could run the NHS better than the Tories may be true, but it is not the battle hymn of a modern republic. It is at best well-meaning, at worst threadbare. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life talking about renationalising the railways while millions of people move across the world because of famine, war and climate change.

The centre left in British politics is in retreat, and the demise of the Labour Party has the grim inevitability of a Shakespearean tragedy. Ironically, history will show that Labour’s fatal flaw lay in its spectacular success.

Labour is, in essence, a party of the 20th century, and in those 100 years it did more to advance the freedom and well-being of working people and the disadvantaged than any other political movement in history. The aspirations of the founding fathers – access to education, health and welfare; equality before the law; collective organisation; universal franchise – have all to a large extent been achieved. The party’s record of racial and religious tolerance has been a beacon in a century of repression. These achievements have been enshrined in the fabric of British society and reproduced across the world.

The success brought deserved, unprecedented power and created political fortresses across the industrial heartlands of Britain. But with power, the party became increasingly moribund and corrupt. The manipulation of the union block vote at party conferences became a national disgrace. The Labour heartlands, particularly Scotland, were treated like rotten boroughs, and were too often represented by union placemen.

Instead of seeking a new radicalism appropriate to the challenges of the age, New Labour sought to ambush the Tories on the management of market capital and to outflank them on law and order: a fool’s errand. It inevitably succumbed to another form of corruption based on hubris and deceit, resulting in attacks on civil liberty, financial disaster and catastrophic war.

The reaction has been to lurch back to the status quo. The extraordinary fall from a massive majority of 179 in 1997 to a political basket case has been blamed on the false dichotomy between Blairism and the old, unionised Labour. Both have contributed to the disaster in equal measure.

I believe desperately in the politics of the 21st century, and Labour is at best paying lip service to it – epitomised in its failure to engage in the Brexit debate, which I was horrified by. The Liberal Democrats are far from perfect, but they have been consistent on Europe, as they were in their opposition to the Iraq War and on civil liberties. They deserve support.

But it’s a serious wrench. I’m leaving friends, and it hurts. Jeremy Corbyn was a political ally of mine on a number of serious issues. We made common cause on Tony Blair’s assaults on civil liberty and the Iraq War, and we went to Gaza together. He has many of the right ideas, but he simply has not moved into addressing the major problems.

To be blunt, I don’t think Corbyn is leadership material, but that is aside from politics. You need skills as a leader, and I don’t think he’s got them, but I was prepared to stick it out to see what happened. It has been a great, gradual disappointment, and Brexit has brought it all to the fore.

Frankly, I was surprised that he announced he was a Remainer, because I know that his natural sympathies have lain with a small cadre within Labour – an old-fashioned cadre that holds that any form of trade bloc among relatively wealthy nations is an abhorrence. It’s not: it’s the way forward. Yet there are people who believe that, and I know he has always been sympathetic to them.

But by signing up and then doing nothing, you sell the pass. Labour was uniquely qualified to confront the deliberate falsehoods trumpeted about the NHS – the absurd claims of massive financial dividends to offset the loss of doctors
and nurses already packing their bags – and it failed. Throughout that campaign, the Labour leadership was invisible, or worse.

At present, there is a huge vacuum on the centre left, represented in substantial part by an angry 48 per cent of the electorate who rejected Brexit and the lies on which it was based. Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. There is no sign from Labour that the issue is even to be addressed, let alone actively campaigned on. The Labour leadership has signed up to Brexit and, in doing so, rejected the principles of international co-operation that Europe has fostered for half a century. That is not a place I want to be.

The failure to work with, or even acknowledge, other political parties is doctrinaire lunacy. And it will end very badly, I think. The centre left has an obligation to coalesce, and to renege on that obligation is reneging on responsibility. Not to sit on the same platform as other parties during the Brexit debate is an absurd statement of political purity, which has no place at all in modern politics.

The Liberal Democrats have grasped the political challenges of the 21st century as surely as their predecessors in the Liberal Party failed to comprehend those that faced the world a century ago. For that reason, I will sign up and do my best to lend support in my political dotage. After nearly 50 years as a Labour man, I do so with a heavy heart – but at least with some radical hope for my grandchildren.

Bob Marshall-Andrews was the Labour MP for Medway from 1997 to 2010.

As told to Anoosh Chakelian.

This article first appeared in the 27 April 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Cool Britannia 20 Years On

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