Nomadland wins three London Critics’ Circle awards as female film-makers triumph

Film, screenwriter and actress of the year for Chloé Zhao’s film as it generates Oscars buzz

Chloé Zhao’s road movie Nomadland took home three awards at the London Critics’ Circle film awards on an evening when female film-makers dominated and Zhao’s film continued to gather momentum as the Oscars approach.

A strong favourite heading into the event, Nomadland won film of the year, while its star, Frances McDormand, was named actress of the year and writer-director Zhao screenwriter of the year.

Zhao’s film began generating awards buzz after it won the Golden Lion for best film at the Venice film festival, and is part of a group of films with female directors that have drawn large numbers of nominations, upending the status quo of poor representation for female film-makers.

The British horror Saint Maud also took three awards, including British or Irish film of the year, with its director, Rose Glass, given breakthrough film-maker, and Morfydd Clark won British/Irish actress of the year.

Sarah Gavron’s London coming-of-age tale, Rocks, scored the second most nominations with six, and on the night it took home two awards: Lucy Pardee won the technical award for her casting and Bukky Bakray won the breakthrough acting award.

There was a posthumous win for Chadwick Boseman, who won best actor for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, while best supporting actor went to Shaun Parkes for his performance as Frank Crichlow, the restaurant owner turned activist, in Mangrove.

Steve McQueen won best director for his five-film Small Axe anthology (which included Mangrove), while Riz Ahmed was named British/Irish actor of the year for his performances in Sound of Metal and Mogul Mowgli. The Long Goodbye, the short film that Ahmed wrote, produced and starred in, also won British/Irish short of the year.

“As always, the critics have spread the love around among a range of films this year, particularly recognising female film-makers and a diverse range of talent both behind and in front of the cameras,” said the film section chair, Rich Cline.

Cline added that the combination of theatrical and streaming releases fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic meant the judges had to watch an unusually large number of films.

Boseman’s award was accepted by his co-star Colman Domingo, and Maria Bakalova also appeared virtually to accept supporting actress of the year for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, with the entire event being streamed on the Critics’ Circle YouTube channel.

The Danish director Thomas Vinterberg won foreign-language film of the year for Another Round, his story about a teacher who turns to alcohol, while Alexander Nanau’s Collective won documentary of the year.

Full list of winners

ilm of the year Nomadland

Foreign-language film of the year Another Round

Documentary of the year Collective

The Attenborough award: British/Irish film of the year Saint Maud

Director of the year Steve McQueen – Small Axe

Screenwriter of the year Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

Actress of the year Frances McDormand – Nomadland

Actor of the year Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Supporting actress of the year Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Supporting actor of the year Shaun Parkes – Mangrove

British/Irish actress of the year (for body of work) Morfydd Clark – Eternal Beauty, Saint Maud

British/Irish actor of the year (for body of work) Riz Ahmed – Mogul Mowgli, Sound of Metal

The Philip French award: Breakthrough British/Irish film-maker Rose Glass – Saint Maud

Young British/Irish performer Bukky Bakray – Rocks

British/Irish short film The Long Goodbye

Technical achievement Rocks – Lucy Pardee, casting


Lanre Bakare Arts and culture correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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