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‘Drake’ takes U.K. cake

Leigh's 'Vera' sets the Standard

LONDON — “Vera Drake” drew kudos for picture and actress Imelda Staunton as Blighty’s industry turned out in force at the Savoy Hotel Sunday to celebrate the Evening Standard British Film Awards.

Mike Leigh’s story of an illegal abortionist was nominated for the top prize alongside Shane Meadow’s “Dead Man’s Shoes” and Paul Pavlikovsky’s “My Summer of Love.”

Pavlikovsky’s poetic teen drama took screenplay kudos although, by Pavlikovsky’s own admission, it “didn’t have much of a screenplay in the first place” and the script developed throughout the shoot. “Summer’s” lead actresses, Nathalie Press and Emily Blunt, were voted the newcomer nod by the jury, comprised of Blighty’s leading film critics.

Paddy Considine drew the actor prize for his brooding, intense perf in “Dead Man’s Shoes,” a dark tale of revenge.

The Peter Sellers Award for comedy went to writer-comedian-actor Simon Pegg for zombie romantic comedy “Shaun of the Dead.”

Technical achievement nod went to veteran d.p. Roger Deakins for his work on “The Ladykillers” and “The Village.”

Proving once again that Renee Zellweger has captured British hearts with her portrayal of Blighty’s most famous singleton, the Evening Standard Readers’ Award was presented to “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.” The film’s producers, Working Title’s Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan, received the Alexander Walker Award for their contribution to Blighty’s film industry.

Those attending the ceremony included Terry Gilliam, Judi Dench, Miranda Richardson, Emilia Fox, Nik Powell, Kim Cattrall, Colin Firth and Patrick Stewart.

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