Lars Von Trier's 'Melancholia' Wins Best Film at European Film Awards
"The Artist" and "The King's Speech" also among the winners.
BERLIN -- Lars von Trier's apocalyptic drama Melancholia blew them away at the 24th European Film Awards, Europe's version of the Oscars, taking home three trophies, including best film.
"I don't have a message from Lars for you because he has stopped making public statements. I can't imagine why," said one of Melancholia's producers as she accepted the honor on von Trier's behalf, making reference to the director's infamous pro-Hitler quips in Cannes this year.
Melancholia's cameraman Manuel Alberto Claro got the best cinematography nod for his hypnotic lensing of earth's final days and production designer Jette Lehmann won the EFA for her opulent sets.
Melancholia was the odds-on favorite to take the top prize at this year's EFA's. The host of the 24th European Film Awards, German comedienne Anke Engelke, acknowledged the film's frontrunner status when she started the show, making her entrance on stage in a wedding dress walking in slow-mo, aping Dunst's character in the von Trier drama.
But Von Trier was beat out in the best director race by fellow Dane Susanne Bier for her Foreign Language Oscar winner In a Better World. And the European Film Academy preferred Tilda Swinton's gripping performance as the mother of a murderer in We Need to Talk About Kevin to Kirsten Dunst's depressed bride in Melancholia, giving Swinton the best actress nod. Colin Firth added an EFA best actor trophy to his Oscar with what will likely be his last honor for The King's Speech. Neither Firth nor Swinton made it to the EFA ceremony, which was somewhat low-wattage in terms of star power.
The King's Speech's award haul also included the best editing honor for Tariq Anwar and the People's Choice Award voted on by European cinema goers.
Oscar favorite The Artist won one EFA for best composer nod for Ludovic Bource's classic score. Bource singled out the film's canine star for "inspiring all the music" in Michel Hazanavicius' film.
Another strong Oscar contender, the 3D dance film Pina from Wim Wenders won best European documentary.
Belgium brothers Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne took the best screenplay honor for their script to The Kid with a Bike. Belgium's other big win of the night was for Oxygen, from first-timer Hans Van Nuffel, won the European Discovery prize for best debut feature.
In one of the biggest surprises of the evening, French acting legend Michel Piccoli, who was nominated in the best actor category for playing the Pope in Habemus Papam, was hauled on stage to recieve a lifetime achievement award from actor Bruno Ganz and director Volker Schlondorff.
But the biggest laughs of the evening came thanks to Stellan Skarsgard and his tribute to Mads Mikkelsen, winner of the award for achievement in European cinema. Skarsgard turned the speech about his old friend into a mini-roast.
"I don't admire you for your looks, because you're not good looking," Skarsgard riffed. "You have an 'interesting' face. I know you've been voted sexiest man in Denmark like 6 times but those are by people who don't know you. And we have to remember, Denmark is a very small place."
But Skarsgard ended on a sweet note. "Mads, everything you do has a clarity to it. There's nothing fuzzy about what you do. You're acting is clean, graceful and very poetic."
The biggest applause of the night was for veteran British director Stephen Frears, who received a lifetime achivement honor.
"Actually, I'm everything you don't," Frears said to the audience of European film professionals. "I'm not an auteur and I make cheerful films because I can't stand the misery anymore. I'm just a bloke who makes films and hopes the audience likes them. And I'll try to do better next time."
Full list of European Film Award winners:
EUROPEAN FILM 2011
Melancholia Dir. Lars von Trier
EUROPEAN DIRECTOR 2011
Susanne Bier for In a Better World
EUROPEAN ACTRESS 2011
Tilda Swinton in We Need To Talk About Kevin
EUROPEAN ACTOR 2011
Colin Firth in The King's Speech
EUROPEAN SCREENWRITER 2011
Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne for The Kid with a Bike
CARLO DI PALMA EUROPEAN CINEMATOGRAPHER AWARD 2011
Manuel Alberto Claro for Melancholia
EUROPEAN DOCUMENTARY 2011
Pina Dir. Wim Wenders
EUROPEAN ACHIEVEMENT IN WORLD CINEMA 2011
EFA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
EUROPEAN CO-PRODUCTION AWARD - PRIX EURIMAGES
EUROPEAN ANIMATED FEATURE FILM 2011
Chico & Rita Dir. Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal & Fernando Trueba
EUROPEAN EDITOR 2011
Tariq Anwar for The King's Speech
EUROPEAN PRODUCTION DESIGN
Jette Lehmann for Melancholia
Ludovic Bource for The Artist
EUROPEAN DISCOVERY - PRIX FIPRESCI
Oxygen (Belgium/Netherlands) Dir. Hans Van Nuffel
PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD
The King's Speech
EFA SHORT FILM AWARD
The Wholly Family