Timothy Spall’s NYFCC win for ‘Mr. Turner’ continues group’s love affair with Mike Leigh

With Timothy Spall‘s Best Actor victory for “Mr. Turner” at Monday’s New York Film Critics Circle announcement, the organization continues its love affair with the films of British director Mike Leigh.

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The love story begins over 20 years ago with Leigh’s third feature film, “Naked.” The film took home the prize for Best Actor in 1993 for David Thewlis, besting eventual Oscar champ Tom Hanks (“Philadelphia”) as well as Anthony Hopkins (“The Remains of the Day”), Daniel Day-Lewis (“In the Name of the Father”), and Liam Neeson (“Schindler’s List”). The film also finished in third place for Best Film and Director, which it lost to “Schindler’s List” and Jane Campion for “The Piano,” respectively.

Their paths would cross again six years later with the film “Topsy-Turvy.” In a big surprise, the film won the group’s 1999 prize for Best Film and Best Director. In Best Film it beat out eventual Best Picture champ “American Beauty” as well as “Being John Malkovich” and “The Straight Story.” Leigh beat out David Lynch (“The Straight Story”) for the directing prize. The film finished as a runner-up in the categories of Best Actor for Jim Broadbent (lost to Richard Farnsworth for “The Straight Story”) and Best Screenplay (lost to “Election”).

Five years later, in 2004, Leigh’s film “Vera Drake” brought Imelda Staunton the NYFCC prize for Best Actress and an eventual Oscar nomination.

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These love birds met again in 2008 with “Happy-Go-Lucky.” Sally Hawkins collected the Best Actress prize from the organization, beating out Melissa Leo (“Frozen River”), Anne Hathaway (“Rachel Getting Married”) and Kate Winslet (“Revolutionary Road”). Leigh also had a shocking win for Best Director, besting both David Fincher (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) and eventual Oscar champ Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”). The film also finished as a runner-up for Best Film (won by “Milk”) and Best Screenplay (won by “Rachel Getting Married”).

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