Last night’s Oscars have brought an end to an awards season that has recognised a year of excellence in British filmmaking.
Outstanding individual performances from Colin Firth, Helena Bonham-Carter and Christian Bale have been among those recognised over the past few weeks and awards have also been handed to those working behind the scenes such as Roger Deakins and Double Negative.
Highlights of this year’s awards season for British film have included:
- The King’s Speech scooped the Best Film Oscar and BAFTA;
- Colin Firth swept the board, taking home Best Actor gongs at the Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTAs for his role in The King’s Speech;
- Christian Bale will also be clearing some space on the mantelpiece after his performance in The Fighter earned him both the Oscar and the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor;
- Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter added to The King’s Speech’s awards tally by winning the BAFTAs for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively;
- Director Tom Hooper, whose previous credits have included Byker Grove, Prime Suspect and the film The Damned United, took home the Best Director Oscar for The Kings Speech;
- Cinematographer Roger Deakins picked up the BAFTA for his work on the Coen Brothers’ film True Grit;
- Inception won both the Oscar and BAFTA for visual effects, giving British firm Double Negative a double reason to celebrate.
Today, Prime Minister David Cameron said the Best Film Oscar for The King’s Speech marked “a fantastic end to the awards season and an incredible year for British film-making” and congratulated all the British award recipients. Mr Cameron added: “The tremendous success of British film at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and now the Oscars is recognition of the wealth of talent and creativity that makes the British film industry world-class.”
While the awards have celebrated creativity, box office returns have demonstrated the industry’s huge economic value. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows put in a record-breaking opening weekend performance in November while The King’s Speech has earned more than £38 million at the UK box office and more than $230 million worldwide, making it the highest grossing UK independent film of all time.
But The King’s Speech would not have been possible without the support of about £1 million of public money and its success has shown why this support remains critical. It is the reason why the Government has continued this vital funding and decided that the share of money that the arts, including film, gain from lottery proceeds will increase by about 60% by 2014. The tax credit for UK films will also be maintained.
Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey announced in November that responsibility for distributing Lottery money will transfer from the UK Film Council to the British Film Institute (BFI) in April this year. The changes will ensure greater value for public money by combining the functions and expertise of the two organisations in a single body. As the UK Film Council is wound up, the BFI will become the lead strategic film body and will carry out a review with DCMS looking at how to build a more sustainable industry. It will also work with Film London, BAFTA and BBC Worldwide to consider the role the latter two organisations could play to support the distribution of British films abroad.
These measures will help to give the industry the financial certainty it needs and make sure that investment in film is properly targeted and transparent - moves which could mean that more British filmmakers and actors have to write acceptance speeches.