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.

Photo: Tashphotography / Stockimo / Alamy
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The Negroni fools no one – it’s easy to make and contains nothing but booze

It is the colour of danger, a red rag to anyone jaded by cocktail-world bull.

The cocktail is designed to lie about its origins; no wonder it reached its apogee during Prohibition, which forced everyone with an unrepentant thirst to lie about their cravings. Even today, when only extreme youth, religious belief or personal inclination prevents a person from draining the bar dry, the cocktail continues its career of dishonesty. It hides ingredients or methods. It provides a front for poor-quality booze. And it often dissolves, within its inscrutable depths, mountains of sugar, enabling drinkers to pose as sophisticates while downing something that tastes like a soft drink – to get drunk without leaving the playpen.

This is why I love the Negroni, which fools no one. It is easy to make and contains nothing but pure booze. Despite being a third sweet vermouth, it isn’t saccharine: the other two thirds, equal measures of gin and Campari, may have something to do with this. And it is the colour of danger, a red rag to anyone jaded by cocktail-world bull.

They say it was invented in Florence at the request of a Count Negroni, who wanted a drink unsullied by club soda – a drink stiff enough to get a man back on a bucking horse, perhaps, since this Count may have been a rodeo rider. I prefer to believe that the Count, if Count he was, came in, tossed down enough strong liquor to start telling stories about his American adventures, and, when he finally staggered out into the night, the exasperated bartender poured three straight shots into a single glass and baptised this wondrous reviver in grateful homage to the fabulist who had inspired it.

In a former glue factory a very long way from Florence or America, the East London Liquor Company now makes very good gin – Batches One and Two, the former tannic with Darjeeling as well as cassia bark, pink grapefruit peel, and coriander seeds; the latter redolent of savoury, bay, thyme and lavender. Transforming these plants into excellent alcohol seems an improvement on boiling down horses for adhesive, and the company also makes superb Negronis from Batch Two.

We sit outside, in a carpark made marginally more glamorous by border boxes of Batch Two botanicals, and marvel at the transformation of this grimy part of East London, next door to a park intended to give Victorian working men brief respite from lives all too lacking in myth or fantasy. It is a reincarnation at least as miraculous as the transformation of three strong and entirely unalike spirits into the delectable harmony of the Negroni. The sun shines; a fountain plashes. Nuts and charcuterie arrive. All is right with the world.

I leave my herbaceous bower and dangerously pleasing drink for a peek at the large copper distillery behind the bar, walking in past the fountain, a whimsical stone construction that pours vermilion liquid into two, tiered basins topped by a chubby putto clutching a rather reluctant fish.

And then I stop. And double back. Vermilion liquid? It is, indeed, a Negroni fountain. There are even slices of orange floating in the basin. I dip a finger: the taste is slightly metallic but still undeniably that potent mixture of booze, botanicals, bitterness, and just a hint of sweetness. A streak of citrus from the orange slices. It turns out that the world’s most straightforward cocktail lends itself to a decadent neo-Renaissance fantasy. There’s a message here, one forthright as a temperance tract: without imagination, we would have no lies – but no Negronis, either.

Nina Caplan is the 2014 Fortnum & Mason Drink Writer of the Year and 2014 Louis Roederer International Wine Columnist of the Year for her columns on drink in the New Statesman. She tweets as @NinaCaplan.

This article first appeared in the 20 July 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The new world disorder