All of Us Strangers, Andrew Haigh’s revolutionary romance starring Andrew Scott as a screenwriter grappling with the death of his parents when he was a child, has taken best picture, best director and best screenplay at the British Independent Film Awards.
The film had already taken four prizes at the craft division of the Bifas last month, for editing, cinematography, music supervision and screenplay; it added three more at the ceremony at Old Billingsgate in London on Sunday. As well as the wins for Haigh, Paul Mescal took best supporting actor for his performance as a younger man who begins a relationship with Scott’s character.
The sweep gives a considerable boost to the awards momentum of a film that is emerging as Haigh’s mainstream breakthrough, following plaudits for previous films including Weekend (2012) and 45 Years (2015). At the Gotham awards – broadly the US counterpart to the Bifas – last month, All of Us Strangers, which is released in the UK in January, went home empty-handed despite four nominations.
Meanwhile, Molly Manning Walker’s debut feature, How to Have Sex, won best lead performance for Mia McKenna-Bruce, who plays a 16-year-old navigating a wild and complicated summer holiday in Malia, while Shaun Thomas was – with Mescal – the joint winner of best supporting performance for his turn as an empathetic young man. The film had already taken best casting at the craft awards.
Anatomy of a Fall, Justine Trier’s tense courtroom drama, which took the Palme d’Or at Cannes in May, won best international feature; the film took the same prize, as well as best screenplay, at the Gothams.
Savanah Leaf, a former Olympic volleyball player, took best debut director for her drama about a pregnant single mother, Earth Mama, while Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and George MacKay were presented with the best joint lead performance for Femme, about a drag queen and his closeted attacker. At the craft awards, Femme took costume design and hair and makeup.
The winner of the debut screenwriter prize was Nida Manzoor for her tale of two sisters, Polite Society. Charlotte Regan’s Scrapper took breakthrough producer and Vivian Oparah best breakthrough performance for her turn in romcom Rye Lane, which also took best original music.
Biker yarn If the Streets Were on Fire won best documentary, while The Taste of Mango’s Chloe Abrahams took best debut documentary director.
The Bifas were founded 25 years ago to celebrate British productions not bankrolled by a major studio. Bifa patron Ray Winstone opened the proceedings on Sunday night, while Lolly Adefope and Kiell Smith-Bynoe hosted, and stars including Fiona Shaw, Zawe Ashton, Asa Butterfield and Theo James presented awards.
Jodie Comer presented Stephen Graham with the Richard Harris award for outstanding contribution to British film. The special jury prize went to We Are Parable, a grassroots company that aims to promote and further audience interaction with Black cinema.
Awards campaigning has gone into overdrive over the past month since the end of the actors’ strike on 9 November. Stars are making up for lost time by energetically promoting movies that they hope may be in line for key trophies in 2024.
Key contenders in a notably strong year include, as well as All of Us Strangers, another film by a British director: Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest, about the idyllic life Rudolf and Helga Hoss built for themselves and their children just outside the wall of Auschwitz, where he was camp commander.
Martin Scorsese’s indigenous epic Killers of the Flower Moon is also likely to fare well, as is The Holdovers, Alexander Payne’s 1970-set comedy/drama, which reunites him with Sideways star Paul Giamatti.
Celine Song’s Past Lives, billed as a Brief Encounter for the new century, dominated the Gothams and is tipped for considerable silverware; other hopefuls include Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein biopic, Maestro, Poor Things, Yorgos Lanthimos’s boisterous fantasy starring Emma Stone as a lustful reincarnated woman, and Cord Jefferson’s publishing satire American Fiction.
Two films that premiered just before the strike began are also expected to figure: Barbie and Oppenheimer. The nominations for the Golden Globe awards are announced on 11 December ahead of the ceremony on 7 January. Bafta nominations come on 18 January, and the ceremony follows a month later.
The Oscars shortlist follows on 23 February, and the ceremony – hosted once more by Jimmy Kimmel – will take place on 10 March.