‘Mad Max: Fury Road,’ ’45 Years’ Triumph at London Film Critics’ Circle Awards

mad max fury road
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

British and Irish talent sweeps the acting categories, but George Miller's action knockout is named Film of the Year.

If key omissions in the BAFTA nominations gave you the idea that Brits had little love for “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “45 Years,” think again. At their annual awards ceremony this evening, the London Film Critics’ Circle fortuitously righted a number of the British Academy’s wrongs — most prominently by handing George Miller’s beautifully deranged action spectacle honors for Film of the Year and Director of the Year.

In doing so, they echoed the verdict of such U.S. groups as the National Board of Review and critics groups from Chicago, San Diego, Kansas City and more, further burnishing the prestige credentials of the 10-time Academy Award nominee, surely the year’s most improbable Oscar success story. “Fury Road” also shared in a third award, as leading man Tom Hardy won British/Irish Actor of the Year for his body of work in 2015, including turns in “Legend,” “The Revenant” and “London Road.”

The night’s other big winner, also taking three awards, sits way at the opposite end of the stylistic spectrum: Andrew Haigh’s exquisite marital drama “45 Years,” for which Charlotte Rampling earned a well-deserved Best Actress Oscar nod earlier this week, was named British/Irish Film of the Year. It also triumphed in the two top acting races: Rampling added Actress of the Year to her collection of U.S. critics’ gongs, but perhaps less expectedly, her delicate duet partner Tom Courtenay took Actor of the Year, beating out Oscar nominees Leonardo DiCaprio and Michael Fassbender. (In case you need reminding, neither Rampling nor Courtenay received a BAFTA nod.)

British and Irish talent swept the acting fields, in fact, as Mark Rylance and surprise Golden Globe champ Kate Winslet won the supporting categories. Saoirse Ronan was named British/Irish Actress of the Year. (Yes, logic dictates that Rampling should win that award too — ditto Courtenay on the actor side — but I’m told the votes simply shook out that way.) “Game of Thrones” star Maisie Williams, meanwhile, took the Young British Performer prize for her leading turn in Carol Morley’s dark high-school drama “The Falling.”

Other winners included “Amy,” which continued its streak of documentary wins; among the films it beat was “The Look of Silence,” which instead took the foreign-language prize. U.S. critics’ favorite “Spotlight” pocketed a screenplay award, while “Carol” — which had led the London critics’ nominations with seven bids — won only the Technical Achievement Award for Ed Lachman’s lensing. “Slow West” director John Maclean beat Alex Garland, among others, to the Breakthrough British/Irish Filmmaker award, while Oscar nominee Benjamin Cleary took the group’s inaugural short film prize for his aching love story “Stutterer.”

Winslet, Williams and Courtenay were among the attending prizewinners at the event, which closed with two British acting titans sharing the stage: Judi Dench presented Kenneth Branagh — her recent director and co-star in a West End revival of “The Winter’s Tale” — with the Circle’s career-achievement Dilys Powell Award.

The full list of winners:

Film of the Year: “Mad Max: Fury Road”

British/Irish Film of the Year: “45 Years”

Foreign Language Film of the Year: “The Look of Silence”

Documentary of the Year: “Amy”

Director of the Year: George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Actor of the Year: Tom Courtenay, “45 Years”

Actress of the Year: Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”

Supporting Actor of the Year: Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”

Supporting Actress of the Year: Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs”

British/Irish Actor of the Year: Tom Hardy, “Legend,” “The Revenant,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “London Road”

British/Irish Actress of the Year: Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”

Screenwriter of the Year: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, “Spotlight”

Philip French Award for Breakthrough British/Irish Filmmaker: John Maclean, “Slow West”

Young British/Irish Performer of the Year: Maisie Williams, “The Falling”

Technical Achievement Award: Ed Lachman, cinematography, “Carol”

British/Irish Short Film of the Year: Benjamin Cleary, “Stutterer”

Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film: Kenneth Branagh

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  1. darthstuey says:

    Mad max for me is the best film of the last twenty years. I have never left the cinema in such a state before. I felt as though all my senses and my mind had taken a complete pounding. It was utterly beautiful and deserves all the praise it gets.

  2. Michael Dearing says:

    45 is a great film. Mad Max? That’s not even a film. Its just murder and mayhem, with a growl thrown in. Unbelievable that trash garners awards.

    • Ramsy says:

      I’m sorry but you do realize that this is one of the most original, incredible, and complex films of this century. It’s fine if it’s not your cup of tea, but please refrain from being so ignorant as to insult something that you obviously are too dense to understand. Film is an art form and believe it or not, critics are experts in the study of film and are much more qualified to make decisions on their merit. So please, stop trying to act as if your ignorant preference is more educated than a professionals.

    • nixatravels says:

      If you cannot understand why Mad Max is important as a work of postmodern cinema perhaps you should read more about it, or even watch it, before insulting it. Most critics think it is deserving of high praise – but surely you know better, right?

      • Joe says:

        So because some critics like it that makes automatically good right? Can anyone of them actually explain why it´s that good , cause all I hear from people who like it diss people who dont just like that with no real argument.. doubt you actually understand what true postmodern cinema really is.. I rather people use their brain that praise blindly just cause some people who you never met in your life, said it is . And I agree with Micheal. It´s mindless action 0 plot.

    • All I hear is “I don’t like this movie other people really like and I’m insecure about that.”

      • Jonathan says:

        If “good story” or even “story” is your primary criterion for a film, then you have some learning to do. Realize that this is not an inherently narrative-based medium and you will be significantly enriched.

      • Daryle says:

        I didn’t like it either, and I’ll tell you exactly why. To me, a film has got to have a good story, and then that good story has to be well-acted. Mad Max did NOT have a good story (note you don’t see any screenplay noms for it from ANYBODY), which didn’t give much opportunity for good acting to shine. As to its merit on the technical side, I’m not qualified to judge, but I don’t think a best picture award ought to go to a film solely on the basis of its technical merit.

  3. Emily Watson says:

    So happy to see some much-deserving love for 45 Years and its formidable leads, Rampling and Courtenay. Shame on the BAFTA voters for ignoring them.

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