Barely a week after the announcement that a simpler European Film Awards (EFA) ceremony was to take place on December 11 in Berlin with only nominees, even this compromise has proven too bold. With the EFAs already competing for global attention with the US awards campaigns and year-end lists, this must be a big disappointment to the organizers and nominees. Still, the show – or a virtual version of it – must go on, and as always, given the vast expanse of territories and categories it covers, there is much to be learned from the 34th edition slate. .
The vagaries of the rules for European film nominations mean that the resulting lineup is often an odd mix of shiny new titles and others at the exhausted end of an award string that peaked some time ago.
Emerald Fennell’s “Promising Young Woman”, for example, landed a spot in the Discovery category for early films and an acting name for Carey Mulligan, despite her premiere nearly two long years ago.
Likewise, among the five names in European cinema, the formidable “Quo Vadis, Aida? By Jasmila Žbanić and the heartbreaking “The Father” by Florian Zeller were already at the Oscars in April, while the lovely “Compartment No. 6” by Juho Kuosmanen and the fierce “Titanium” by Julia Ducournau feel fresher, n ‘ not having deserved their stripes – and their great laurels – until Cannes in July. But for a timely advantage, you would be reckless to bet against Paolo Sorrentino’s animated autofiction “The Hand of God”; Not only is the paint barely dry after its 2021 Venice premiere, Sorrentino has also won the EFA’s Best Picture twice.
Another tick in favor of Italian film is Sorrentino’s nomination for director Euro, an award that tends to go hand in hand with best film. Only once in the past 10 years has there been a split (in 2011, Susanne Bier won the Director’s Trophy for “In a Better World” while Lars Von Trier’s “Melancholia” won the best film). This trend makes the outlook for ‘Compartment 6’ a bit bleaker, as the only one of the top five nominees for films not to also score a directorial nod; instead, Radu Jude snuck in for his anarchic Berlin winner “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn”. But with Žbanić and Ducournau both in contention, there is also the possibility of a women’s victory in the category, which would be only the third in history after Bier and Maren Ade (“Toni Erdmann”).
Sometimes it works the other way around. Fewer nominations can lead to a win, because all the eggs in the movie are put in one basket. This may be the case for the actress, in which Renate Reinsve gets one of two nominations (the other being the screenplay) for the highly regarded “The Worst Person in the World”. Joachim Trier’s film is perhaps the most surprising omission from the film and director lists, given that it is highly anticipated for an international Oscar spot.
In the actor, the field is even tighter, with Franz Rogowski gaining ground for his stunning turn in “The Big Freedom,” while Anthony Hopkins could easily add an EFA to the Oscar he has already won for. “The Father,” and Vincent Lindon’s reputation plus a savagely against type performances in “Titanium” could also turn heads. But let’s not denigrate the odds of Yuriy Borisov (opposite Seidi Haarla, also nominee, also awesome) who is simply wonderful in “Compartment # 6” – one of five films that this immensely charismatic newcomer presented in 2021.
Due to this fragmentation, it is unlikely that this edition will see a winner as categorical as “Another Round” last year or “The Favorite”, “Cold War” or “The Square” before that, when all of them won at the minus four major awards. This year, the only titles with the nominations required to replicate this success are “Quo Vadis, Aida? And “Titanium,” neither of which seems likely to perform a sweep, however dignified it may be. Which means that on December 11, we might be considering more open FTAs than we’ve seen recently, even if the ceremony itself ends up being more closed than we had hoped.