The day started on Sunday morning as I looked out the window to see snow falling. It's been a snowy week in London, with the usual travel chaos any change in the weather brings. But we were in motion, and couldn't be stopped. I headed from home via replacement bus (my Tube line was helpfully closed) to the May Fair Hotel in Mayfair, where the production team ran through the show in the theatre at noon. Then there were fine-tuning adjustments, printing up the winners cards for the envelopes, collating the speeches from those who couldn't be there to accept their award, and of course changing into our finery for the show. The critics who were presenting awards arrived at 5pm to run through their parts of the presentation with our host Richard Herring (who has blogged brilliantly about his experience).
By 5.30pm the first attendees were assembling on the red carpet and facing the press line. The cameramen of course latched on to the glamorous women, including Helena Bonham Carter (recipient of our top honour, the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film), Emily Blunt (nominee for British Actress), Samantha Barks (nominee for Young Performer) and Olivia Colman (last year's British Actress winner, who generously came to help me present the award this year).
There was a warm acceptance video from Bill Westenhofer, who won Technical Achievement for the visual effects in Life of Pi. And Michael Haneke sent two thank-you videos - accepting his awards for Screenplay and Film of the Year for Amour. He's in Madrid at the moment staging a version of Cosi Fan Tutte.
The highlight of the evening was Mike Newell presenting the Dilys to Helena Bonham Carter: "She's like a kaleidoscope, she is able to deliver these wonderful, vivid characters again and again. They're all full of variety, full of wit and energy and I think people long to see what she's going to try next. She's become an institution. Working with her is always surprising, always harmonious. Not one tiny little bit of foot-stamping or tantrum-throwing."
Her speech was hilariously witty, warm and honest, and she later told the press: "It feels like a rash. It suddenly seems like I've got a contagion of diseases - I mean awards! But it's nice, it's a nice feeling. It's so weird, because I'm only 46. A lifetime achievement award - it feels like 'I'm not over yet'. I hope they're not trying to say it's time to stop. I'm only just getting the gist of it." She clearly had a great evening, and she and Tim Burton were among the last to leave, happily chatting to everyone throughout the after party. I left shortly after them, sharing a cab through the snowy streets to North London with fellow critic and awards committee member Pauline McLeod (that's us below).
I didn't open my goody bag until this morning - quite a haul! I need to thank our charity partner Missing People and our amazing sponsors for making this happen. And now I feel like I need a holiday before I start thinking about 2014....
Critics' Circle Film Section - top 10 films of 2012:
- The Master
- Life of Pi
- Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Zero Dark Thirty
- Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
- Django Unchained
- Rust and Bone