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London Critics' Circle opts for Vera Drake



Story by: Jack Foley

MIKE Leigh's Vera Drake was the toast of the London Critics' Circle after being rewarded with no less than five prizes at their annual prize-giving ceremony on February 12, 2005.

The abortion drama, which focuses on a backstreet abortionist, was crowned British film of the year, while its star, Imelda Staunton, took the best actress accolade.

Leigh, himself, was named best British director and British screenwriter of the year, while Phil Davis took the best British supporting actor prize.

Indeed, Vera Drake proved the night's biggest winner and is now seen as a front-runner for Bafta success at Saturday's showpiece ceremony.

Of the other notable awards on the night, Oscar favourite, Martin Scorsese, was named best director for The Aviator, while endearing road comedy, Sideways, took the coveted best film prize.

Jamie Foxx was named actor of the year for Ray, while Daniel Craig won best British actor for his performance in acclaimed British thriller, Enduring Love.

And Eva Birthistle and Kate Winslet shared the British actress of the year award for Ae Fond Kiss and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind respectively.

After announcing The Aviator as best film, awards chairman, William Russell, described the film as 'the work of a master film-maker who has handled the epic story of Howard Hughes quite brilliantly'.

Scorsese responded to the compliment by acknowledging the role the British press had played in supporting his films, frequently before American journalists.

He also confessed to having been inspired by British film-making at an early stage in his career.

Other key prizes were awarded to The Motorcycle Diaries, for best foreign language film of the year, and Romola Garai, for best British supporting actress of the year, for Inside I'm Dancing.

The British newcomer of the year was named as Natalie Press, for My Summer of Love, while veteran director, Ken Loach received a special award in recognition of his 40-year career.

Proceeds from the ceremony, which took place at London's Dorchester Hotel, went to the NSPCC.

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