Garfield dethrones Firth at Evening Standard awards

Colin Firth in The King's Speech and Andrew Garfield in The Social Network Firth (l) is up for an Oscar later this month while Garfield (r) is not

Colin Firth's seemingly unstoppable run of success during awards season took a stumble on Monday when he was beaten to a best acting prize by Andrew Garfield.

Garfield was honoured at the Evening Standard film awards for his roles in The Social Network and Never Let Me Go.

Kristin Scott Thomas was named best actress for her role in French film Leaving, while Peter Mullan's Glasgow-set drama Neds won best film.

Actor Stephen Mangan hosted this year's awards, held at the London Film Museum.

Garfield beat both Firth's Oscar-tipped performance in The King's Speech and Riz Ahmed for his role in suicide bomber satire Four Lions.

In The Social Network the 27-year-old plays Facebook's co-creator Eduardo Saverin, while in Never Let Me Go he is the object of both Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley's affections.

Accepting his award in a filmed message, he said: "I really, really appreciate it and intend to let this spur me and provide more fuel for my fire."

The actor is playing Spider-Man in a new film that focuses on the formative years of the comic book superhero, set for release in 2012.

British actresses Joely Richardson, right, and Emily Watson arrive for the Evening Standard British Film Awards Among those presenting the awards were actresses Emily Watson (left) and Joely Richardson

Accepting her award in a video message, Kristin Scott Thomas said: "I always felt a bit guilty about going off and making French films, and getting this tonight has made me feel you're not too cross with me."

In Leaving, she plays a married woman who embarks on an illicit affair with her builder.

Neds, a study of violent youth in 1970s Glasgow, beat Mike Leigh's Another Year and animated movie The Illusionist in the best film category.

Mullan, who both directs and stars in the film, said his nomination alongside Mike Leigh and Jacques Tati made his award "one of the great, great compliments".

Yet its lead actor Conor McCarron missed out on the most promising newcomer prize, which went to director Ben Wheatley for his comic drama Down Terrace.

Start Quote

I always felt a bit guilty about going off and making French films, and getting this tonight has made me feel you're not too cross with me”

End Quote Kristin Scott Thomas

The film, which stars real-life father and son Robert and Robin Hill as patriarchs of a criminal family, mixes brutal murders with gritty humour and is largely set inside a small house in Brighton.

Roger Allam won the Peter Sellers comedy award for his role as a smooth adulterer in Tamara Drewe.

Among others, Allam thanked his co-star Gemma Arterton for dealing with their bedroom scene "with enormous grace".

The Alexander Walker Special Award, named after the London Evening Standard's late film critic, went to Dark Knight and Inception director Christopher Nolan for his contribution to cinema.

The technical achievement award, meanwhile, went to Gareth Edwards for his low-budget movie Monsters.

The British film-maker, whose next project looks set to be a Hollywood remake of Godzilla, created its alien creatures on a computer in his bedroom.

Robert Hill and Robin Hill in Down Terrace Robert and Robin Hill feature in darkly comic crime drama Down Terrace

The best screenplay award was presented to Clio Barnard for The Arbor, an original dramatisation of the late playwright Andrea Dunbar's short life on a housing estate in Bradford.

Barnard accepted the award from actress Lesley Sharp, who made her screen debut in the 1986 film Rita, Sue and Bob Too, written by Dunbar.

Elsewhere the best documentary prize went to director John Krish for A Day in the Life: Four Portraits of Post-War Britain.

The awards were judged by six film critics, including the Evening Standard's Derek Malcolm.

"Despite our admiration for The King's Speech... the jury felt that Peter Mullan's Neds deserved our prize this year," said Malcolm.

"An original drama of great skill, power and human sympathy, the film reflects directly on the present as well as the past in which it is set."

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Film Awards 2011

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