There was some muttering when Ken Loach’s ‘I, Daniel Blake’ took the Palme d’Or at Cannes last May, but, over the intervening months, the film has engaged with audiences and set in as a critical favourite. Few films in the director’s 50-year career have had such an impact. Now, the Dublin Film Critics Circle has named ‘I, Daniel Blake’ as the best film of 2016. It is the first British film to triumph since the DFCC began awarding prizes in 2006 (unless you stretch the definition to include ‘Gravity’). It was a tight competition. Only a few votes separated the Loach film from Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Arrival’.
There were fears that, after the nation’s extraordinary Oscar run at the start of the year, Irish film would falter in 2016. These concerns proved unfounded. Indeed, a small domestic release, Darren Thornton’s ‘A Date For Mad Mary’, managed to beat John Carney’s ‘Sing Street’ (nominated for a Golden Globe earlier this month) and Lenny Abrahamson’s ‘Room’ (a multiple Oscar nominee) to the DFCC prize for best Irish film. We hold our breath in anticipation of ‘A Date for Mad Mary’’s international unveiling in 2017. Séana Kerslake, who plays the titular tearaway in Thornton’s film, blew away the competition in the best breakthrough category. Nobody came anywhere close. There was further domestic success. Seamus McGarvey, an Armagh man, took best cinematography for Nocturnal Animals. Colm Quinn’s Mattress Men, the story of a Dublin divan flogger, tied with the much celebrated Weiner for best documentary. In no previous DFCC list has there been quite so much Irish interest among the international categories. At least one corner of the future looks bright.
The full winners are revealed below…
BEST FILM – ‘I, Daniel Blake’ BEST DIRECTOR – Denis Villeneuve ‘Arrival’ BEST IRISH FILM – ‘A Date for Mad Mary’ BEST DOCUMENTARY – ‘Weiner’ / ‘Mattress Men’ BEST ACTOR – Dave Johns ‘I, Daniel Blake’ BEST ACTRESS – Amy Adams ‘Arrival’ BEST SCREENPLAY – Eric Heisserer ‘Arrival’ BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – Seamus McGarvey ‘Nocturnal Animals’ BREAK THROUGH – IRISH; Seána Kerslake ‘A Date for Mad Mary’ BREAKTHROUGH – INTERNATIONAL; Hayley Squires ‘I, Daniel Blake’