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Mike Leigh blasts BAFTA and Oscars

September 17, 2010 |  7:01 pm

Notoriously candid director Mike Leigh really let loose when I sat down with him at the Toronto International Film Festival and asked him what he thought about showbiz awards. He's grateful for the love he gets from Yankee and European kudos, but — yikes — quite upset over being snubbed by the top film awards in his native Britain.

"Let's put it this way," he said. " 'Happy-Go-Lucky.' Sally Hawkins got the Silver Bear for best actress (at the Berlin Film Festival). She got a Golden Globe. We had Oscar nominations and a huge number of critics' awards in the States. We had no nominations in any categories at all in the BAFTAs."

"Why do you think that is?" I asked.

"God only knows and if he existed I would ask him!" Leigh harrumphed. When I pressed him further, he added, "BAFTA genuflects to Hollywood. The result of that is that some kinds of British films get neglected."

And what about the Academy Awards?

"I've been to the Oscars a few times," he replied. "Fascinating experience. We know we're never going to win because the guys from Hollywood do. I don't mind that. It's the name of the game. From the point of view of what actually matters most, which is getting our films in front of audiences, it's a terrific bonus."

Video by Paul Sheehan

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The comments to this entry are closed.


I am not in the Sally Hawkins corner for her work in Happy Go Lucky. I dispised the film and her annoying performance. I found nothing award worthy about it as did the SAG, BAFTA and Oscars. Only the critic's had hard ons for her. I blame that on them being polarzied by WInslet and Streep performances. The film truly stuck in comparison to Leigh's greater works Secrets & Lies and Vera Drake.

Because of all her glowing reviews I TRIED to watch Happy Go Lucky. But I found Sally Hawkins' character so terribly annoying that I had to stop. Maybe she was SUPPOSED to be annoying, but there are enough annoyances in real life that precludes me from voluntarily subjecting myself to 2 hours of it.

Are we really surprised? since when were the Oscars about talent? it's all politics.

Sally Hawkins not getting nominated for that film still annoys me to this day. What Mike Leigh brought out of her and vice versa was phenomenal. Jolie was fine, but nothing compared to Hawkins in Happy-Go-Lucky.

On a side note, I still feel Jonny Greenwood was robbed for TWWB.
Ellen Burstyn(Requiem for a Dream) was robbed too, and Newman (Cool Hand Luke) and I could on....well, at least Hawkins and Leigh are in good company.

Mike Leigh presents British life too truthfully -- like a finely ground mirror that shows warts and acne and such -- which is why he is ignored, and why I have always responded so viscerally to his work. "Naked" should be required viewing for those who think American film ever reached the pinnacle called "naturalism." Compared to Leigh, Casavettes makes formless home movies; Scorsese had a moment with "Mean Streets" and then became more of a formalist. When Mike Leigh speaks, I listen....

Well, Mike, Yanks don't win BAFTAS, so, what's your point?

headline misleads

I love Mike Leigh! The guy has balls. I remember when he ripped a new one Academy for not nominating Sally Hawkins two years ago.



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