In 1988, when the Berlin Wall still divided the city, a group of prestigious European filmmakers – members of the European Film Academy – joined forces to defend independent European cinema. They created the European Film Awards which each year nominates the best European film, actor, actress, director, etc.
More than 30 years later, the European Film Awards have become part of the cinematic landscape. Here’s a quick look at the main contenders tipped to walk away with the coveted prizes.
The Favourite, Yorgos Lanthimos
Top of the list is The Favourite directed by Greek Yorgos Lanthimos. It’s a British production with a top drawer female cast including Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz. And the extraordinary Olivia Colman as Queen Anne in a role that has already earned her this year’s Oscar for Best Actress. The film is a comedy-drama about the power games between two women locked in a battle to become Queen Anne’s favourite lady-in-waiting.
The Traitor, Marco Bellocchio
The Traitor by one of the last masters of Italian cinema, Marco Bellocchio, has four nominations including Best Film and Best Director. It has also received a Best Actor nomination for Pierfrancesco Favino for his breathtaking performance as Tommaso Buscetta. The Traitor is the true story of the first mobster to break the code of silence surrounding the Cosa Nostra by denouncing his accomplices in the mid-1980s.
J’accuse, Roman Polanski
Roman Polalnski’s _J_‘accuse is hotly tipped to win an award, but looks likely to suffer from the controversy surrounding the director’s rape conviction. Jean Dujardin, who already has an Oscar for The Artist, is one of the favourites for the Best Actor award. The film meticulously returns to the era of the Dreyfus Affair, which divided France at the beginning of the 20th century over the question of anti-Semitism.
Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar
Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory is also a serious contender for a number of awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor for Antonio Banderas. The Spanish actor has already won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival in May. It’s an autobiographical film that looks back at the director’s life, his childhood, his success, his addictions. In short, an Almodóvar who lays himself bare with both modesty and delicacy.
System Crasher, Nora Fingscheidt
System Crasher, the only film directed by a woman, is an outsider in the Best Film category. Nora Fingscheidt is unknown outside Germany but that may soon change. System Crasher is a portrait of a nine-year-old child, Benni, abandoned by her mother who suffers from sudden violent outbursts. It’s an emotionally intense film, thanks mainly to Elena Zengel’s performance as Benni which has won her a nomination for the Best Actress Award.
Les Misérables, Ladj Ly
Another outsider is Ladj Ly’s powerful film Les Misérables, a film that plunges the audience into a Parisian suburb without drawing a moral line between good and evil. One hundred and fifty years after the Victor Hugo classic, poverty is still an issue. The film received the Jury Prize at Cannes and is the favourite to win the Best First Film Award.