Oscar-tipped drama Nomadland has been crowned the big winner at the London Critics’ Circle film awards, picking up three main prizes.
Starring Frances McDormand as a woman travelling in a van on a journey through the American West, it was named film of the year at the ceremony, which was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Two-time Academy Award winner McDormand was also named actress of the year, while director Chloe Zhao picked up the gong for best screenwriter.
British horror film Saint Maud, which stars Morfydd Clark as a palliative care nurse and convert to high Catholicism, also collected three prizes at the London Critics’ Circle event – for British/Irish film of the year, British/Irish actress of the year, and breakthrough British/Irish filmmaker for writer-director Rose Glass.
The late Chadwick Boseman was named actor of the year posthumously for his role in blues drama Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Also starring Viola Davis, the film was released in November, three months after the 43-year-old actor’s death from cancer.
Steve McQueen was named director of the year for Small Axe, an anthology of five films centred around London’s West Indian community from the late 1960s to the early ’80s, while Shaun Parkes, who starred in the first instalment, Mangrove, won the prize for supporting actor of the year.
Maria Bakalova won the prize for supporting actress of the year for her role as Borat’s daughter alongside Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, while Riz Ahmed was named British/Irish actor of the year for his work in Sound Of Metal and Mogul Mowgli.
Ahmed also won another prize for The Long Goodbye, a short film he wrote, produced and starred in, which was named British/Irish short film of the year.
Rich Cline, chair of the film section of the London Critics’ Circle, said that while the ceremony was virtual, he was hopeful of being able to “holding a party in-person” whenever COVID-19 restrictions have eased sufficiently to do so.
“As always, the critics have spread the love around among a range of films this year, particularly recognising female filmmakers and a diverse range of talent both behind and in front of the cameras,” he said.
“This year, our 160 members watched an unusually large number of films, both theatrical and streaming releases, and they’ve sifted out the best of the best for our awards.
“We look forward to holding a party in-person, and of course getting back into cinemas, as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
Other winners included Sarah Gavron’s coming of age story Rocks, which took home two prizes – young British/Irish performer of the year for actress Bukky Bakray, and the technical achievement award for casting for Lucy Pardee.
Collective, which follows journalists working to uncover healthcare fraud in the wake of a deadly nightclub fire in Romania, was named documentary of the year, while black comedy Another Round was named foreign-language film of the year.
Despite a delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, film awards season is now well under way, with the nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Awards also announced earlier in February.
The nominations for the Oscars and the BAFTAs are due to be announced in March, with the ceremonies set for April.