UPDATE: A strong year for indie British cinema was celebrated tonight at London’s Old Billingstate where actor/writer/director Richard Ayoade hosted the Moët British Independent Film Awards. Going in, Yorgos Lanthimos’ Cannes pic The Lobster led the nominations with seven, but took only one, for Olivia Colman in Supporting Actress. It was Alex Garland’s Ex Machina that scooped the most prizes, including Best British Independent Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Outstanding Achievement in Craft for its Visual Effects, by Andrew Whitehurst.
The Artificial Intelligence drama is prolific screenwriter Garland’s first feature as a director. Released back in January in the UK by UIP, it’s handled by A24 in the U.S. and has grossed about $37M worldwide.
Ex Machina co-star, Domhnall Gleeson spent nearly as much time at the podium as Garland, but not for winning. Rather, he was the go-to guy for absent honorees. He was nominated at Best Supporting Actor for Brooklyn, (whose Saoirse Ronan won Best Actress) but lost out to his father, Brendan Gleeson who won for Suffragette. In a bit that worked even if it was staged, presenter and Domhnall’s Ex Machina co-star Alicia Vikander called Suffragette director Sarah Gavron to the stage to accept on Gleeson the elder’s behalf. But the son elbowed his way in, quipping, “My dad told me I should accept if he beat me.”
Gleeson was later asked to the stage when an absent Tom Hardy was named Best Actor for his dual role as the Kray twins in Legend. “He has decided to make a fool of me,” Gleeson joked. The pair recently worked together in The Revenant.
Ronan, who has been building buzz for her role as an Irish immigrant in Sundance breakout Brooklyn, said the BIFAs were extra special to her because she’d met the film’s producers at the ceremony two years ago. She added that the film’s “journey is close to my heart” given her Irish background. “To have the chance to celebrate that was incredible.”
In one of the night’s biggest surprises, Asif Kapadia’s lauded Amy was shut out with Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance taking the Best Documentary award. There’s consolation elsewhere today as Amy just won the LA Film Critics Award for Best Documentary.
In other key prizes, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room triumphed in the Best International Indie race.
The full list of winners is below:
BEST BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM
Ex Machina, Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich, Alex Garland
Alex Garland, Ex Machina
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Tom Hardy, Legend
DOUGLAS HICKOX AWARD FOR BEST DEBUT DIRECTOR
Stephen Fingleton, The Survivalist
PRODUCER OF THE YEAR
Paul Katis & Andrew De Lotbiniere, Kajaki: The True Story
Alex Garland, Ex Machina
Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story Of Dream Alliance, Judith Dawson, Louise Osmond
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Olivia Colman, The Lobster
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Brendan Gleeson, Suffragette
THE DISCOVERY AWARD
Orion: THe Man Who Would Be King, Jeanie Finlay
BEST INTERNATIONAL INDEPENDENT FILM
Room, Ed Guiney, David Gross, Emma Donoghue, Lenny Abrahamson
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN CRAFT
Andrew Whitehurst, Visual Effects, Ex Machina
BEST BRITISH SHORT FILM
Edmond, Emilie Jouffroy, Nina Gantz
MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER
Abigail Hardingham, Nina Forever