Oscars: U.K. Industry Touts Nomination Success


Director: Stephen Frears
Cast: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan
In Competition

Philomena is a narrative of human love and loss that ultimately celebrates life.

The film units of the BBC and Channel 4 trumpet success with Steve McQueen's "12 Years A Slave" and "Philomena," while the BFI says it was "fantastic to see the Academy putting the U.K.’s vibrant and thriving film industry firmly in the international spotlight."

LONDON – The British film industry has a reputation for finding that every silver lining has a cloud, but  this year's list of U.K. Oscar nominations drew positive comments here on Thursday.

While there were high-profile snubs for Emma Thompson for her turn in Saving Mr. Banks, the film's scribe Kelly Marcel and director Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), there was plenty for the local industry to trumpet.

Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave and Stephen Frears' Philomena led the British presence on the list of the Academy Awards contenders.

Broadcaster Channel Four's film unit Film4 celebrated adding Oscar nomination success to its BAFTA nominations earlier this month having helped bring McQueen's movie to the screen.

Film4's third collaboration with the filmmaker following Hunger and Shame picked up no less than nine Oscar nominations in categories including best director for McQueen and best picture to go with the unit's 12 nomination slots for its output from British Academy voters.

Tessa Ross, controller of film and drama at Channel 4, said: "This is a very exciting day – Steve [McQueen] is already acclaimed as one of the worlds’ leading contemporary visual artists and is now being recognized as a truly visionary feature film-maker on the international stage."

Ross was also quick to laud British creatives' role across the lineup of Oscar nominees by saying that it was "wonderful to see such a range of British talent being recognized in today's nominations."

Across town, BBC Films, the movie-making unit of the public broadcaster, was also left with a warm glow after Oscar voters heralded movies from its project slate with six nominations.

Philomena picked up four Oscar nominations, including best picture ,while Ralph Fiennes' sophomore directorial outing The Invisible Woman and Saving Mr. Banks picked up one apiece for costume design and music – original score, respectively.

BBC Films chief Christine Langan said her operation's six nominations were thrilling in "such a strong year."

Said Langan: "The recognition for Philomena is a mark of the enduring quality and appeal of British independent filmmaking and is a thrilling testament to Philomena’s amazing story and the filmmakers' ingenuity and humanity in the telling of it. BBC Films is very proud of having put Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope together, such talented writers of immense skill."

The British Film Institute's film fund, now the U.K.'s largest public investor in film, summed up the general delight here.

Having pumped a small but significant sum of cash into Philomena, the BFI was also quick to applaud Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, a movie made here in the British capital, which garnered a slew of Oscar nominations.

BFI CEO Amanda Nevill said: “It’s fantastic to see the Academy putting the U.K.’s vibrant and thriving film industry firmly in the international spotlight. Britain’s world-leading studios and VFX facilities take center stage in the spectacular Gravity, and the ability of our visionary directors to bring true stories to life with extraordinary effect is seen so vividly in Stephen Frears’ BFI and BBC Films-supported Philomena and Steve McQueen’s Film4-backed 12 Years a Slave.

Nevill noted that Oscar recognition "for on- and off-screen British talent across so many categories help remind us that the U.K.’s film industry is something we can all be hugely proud of."