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
Film 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