Jameson Empire Awards 2009

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Minute-By-Minute Blog

Sunday March 29, 2009, 20:54 (GMT)
That's All, Folks

Well, that's all she wrote. The awards themselves are finished and during the last little while that technical issues prevented me from posting this bit, I've gone back through the rest and tried to add a few bits to make it make sense (like, y'know, words and full stops and grammar and stuff). Hope that helps!

The awards themselves flew by here: O Briain was one of the best hosts of recent years, actually getting huge guffaws from a notoriously tough crowd and at one point (not transcribed because my fingers fell off and had to be reattached) making a just-arrived Russell Crowe wait outside because he was still mid-joke and didn't want to introduce him until he was finished. The many different approaches to poetry were also revealing: Crowe clearly likes Lennon, Kipling, Patrick Kavanagh and, er, Boyzone. James McAvoy prefers WH Auden, or at least Four Weddings. Greengrass goes for Tennyson and O Briain, in his closing remarks, plumped for Spike Milligan. "And finally I'd like to say a few words that sum up this event: 'On the Ning Nang Nong, Where the cows go bong...'"

Best geek line of the night goes to McAvoy too, for "I can't believe I just got an award from the CAG". Best skit-bit is the League of Gentlemen's interpretation of professionalism, a la Bale. Best punchline to a speech is probably Russell Crowe, but Best Speech might well be Viggo Mortensen, whose shenanigans with his goody bag onstage had to seen to be believed.

And that's it. I am bleary-eyed from blogging in a dark room and might fall over from sheer awe if Viggo and Sean burst out laughing one more time, so I think I'll hit the bar. This has been the Jameson Empire Awards 2009, and frankly it's been a blast. Watch out tomorrow for videos of the speeches, the red carpet and all the winners, and pick up the next issue for the full report. Yes, even fuller than these interminable blog entries: we don't do things by halves round here.

Sunday March 29, 2009, 19:39 (GMT)
Empire Icon

Empire Icon

Dara: It's the final award of the evening, the Empire Icon, given to a talent who, in the eyes of Empire and its readers, is so much more than a star, they have reached the status of icon. Here to present the award is an actor who has starred alongside tonight's winner and can boast of his own career as a ruggedly handsome leading man in everything from Sharpe, to Troy, to Goldeneye to, of course, the Lord of the Rings. It's Sean Bean.

Bean: It's a real pleasure to be here tonight to present this award to an actor who's a very good friend of mine. The work I did with him will always stay in my heart. Let's see the man in action.

AND THE WINNER IS... VIGGO MORTENSEN (cue some bromance)

Mortensen: Thank you very much. you don't have to stand on ceremony, you can all leave now. Thank you Sean and thank you Jameson. I hope I've had a good time, because I've been given to understand that this award is a gentle nudge to go offstage, to just sort of fade away. I think I'm ready - I think a lot of other people are too. But what have I got to lose at this point? There were a lot of other candidates. For this, you can't send a video, you have to be here. For this (holds up Perspex award) you had to be here. I tried to record a video, and I couldn't make this thing work. I kicked the camera and fired the first director. But the first candidate was Russell Crowe: he was supposed to get the Icon award and I was supposed to get the Actor of All-Time award, but I traded with him because he couldn't stay, he only came for a second. There's a lot of pressure at the top. But in fairness to all those who were maybe a little disappointed that after regalling us with his unfathomable literary aspirations, that he had to go because he had to go to take his Maltesers and his shampoo down to the Great Ormond Street hospital already, because he knows a matter of life and death when he sees it.

Let's talk about Sean Bean instead. Empire was an early and ardent supporter of Lord of the Rings before it even came out. They're trying to make more money from it now, make it Mexican with Guillermo del Toro, who's very talented. Now we're not in the book, but they may try to link that book to the book we were in, they're trying to make it happen. But I was looking at Tolkien's version of the world. In order to do a prequel to Lord of the Rings, I'd have to be changing Boromir's diapers because I live longer or whatever.

But seriously, I would like to dedicate this award to a great actor, Alan Howard. I know this is not the right crowd for that, with a few exceptions. I saw Alan Howard more than a quarter of a century ago in a play of Good, the role I play in the movie that's coming out soon, Good. He was remarkable, mesmerising. I only wish I'd seen him play Henry V, Johann in Scenes From A Marriage. But from what i understand, he's the sort of actor I really aspire to be: meticulous, professional, who was never in danger of being seduced by flattery or prone to grandstand like I'm doing right now. Unlike his peers and contemporaries like Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen, he never made the transition to fame and fortune in the movie business. But I think that his approach to acting is probably going to be more long-lasting and more valuable in some ways that some of his more celebrated colleagues. He was an actor, through and through, no bullshit, and I admire that. Anyway, enough. I thank you, and I thank Empire.

Sunday March 29, 2009, 19:33 (GMT)
Outstanding Contribution To British Film

Outstanding Contribution To British Film

Dara: We're now in the home straight. Here is the Outstanding Contribution to British Film award, or the Best Brit award. Our winner has had a brilliant year with Slumdog Millionaire, but in the past too he has done more than any other director of recent years to redefine the idea of British film as electrifying, genre-breaking and nothing to do with bloody corsets. He has dabbled in all genres and made each uniquely his own. When the winner of this award spoke to Empire recently, he admitted he would rather that Bury FC won the FA Cup than win an Oscar. Sadly, he only won an Oscar, but to present the Award, we have manager Alan Knill, striker Andy Bishop and captain Paul Scott from Bury FC.

Knill: We're from Bury football club. If we seem a little apprehensive, it's because we're not used to crowds like this. We don't have a big crowd of celebrity supporters, but if you're going to have one, let's have the coolest: Danny Boyle!

BOYLE: Thank you very much - to get this from Bury is amazing. In inimitable Bury fashion, we trashed Bournemouth 1-nil. I hate to contradict Michael Sheen, but the best line of the year is "You're Australian. Act Australian" from Tropic Thunder. I've got to thank the screenwriters I've worked with over the years, and my producers. I've also got to thank Empire magazine, who have been incredibly supportive even in less-rosy times. I doubt the readers voted for this one, because they were too busy voting for Mamma Mia for Best Soundtrack. Thank you, and good night!

Sunday March 29, 2009, 19:28 (GMT)
Best Actress

Best Actress

Dara: Here to present is a man who's given us some of the most mesmerising performances of recent years. his Kenneth Williams was spellbinding, his David Frost was blistering and his Tony Blair was so convincing that people doubt whether the real one ever actually existed. His latest film, The Damned United, is further proof that he's one of the most gifted actors of his generation: Michael Sheen.

Michael Sheen: My favourite line from any film this year is "What the fuck is that big dog?" [from Roverfield, one of our Done in Sixty Seconds entries]. It's a pleasure to be here to present Best Actress, because I don't think I've had enough publicity over the past couple of weeks, so let's look at some clips of my work (note: we actually see clips of the actresses nominated).

(Sheen watches the clips and says: I really can play anyone, can't I?)


Bonham Carter: "Thanks so much. This is a real compliment, I'm very chuffed. I did work actually incredibly hard for that role, but I loved every bit of it, and it was so many dreams come true. I always wanted to be in a musical, to sing, to be in something by Steven Sondheim and I always wanted a baby girl. I actually got all that, thanks to Tim Burton. And I know he always wanted to be Best Actress, so this is as much his as mine. Thank you!"

Sunday March 29, 2009, 19:22 (GMT)
Best Actor

Best Actor

Dara: We come now to the award for Best Actor, sponsored by Jameson, and this year it reads like a who's who of cinema's most charismatic leading men.

To present the award is not one, not two but an actual league of gentlemen actors...please welcome Reece Shearsmith and Mark Gatiss.

Shearsmith: (to Gatiss, standing behind him) What are you doing?

Gatiss: I was just trying to see the winner.

Shearsmith: Are you a fucking professional or not? Don't be sorry, don't be coming up here trying to read over my shoulder. You're a fucking amateur. You fucking read this winner out - I am DONE professionally with you!


BALE (on tape from LA): "Thank you so much for this award, I can't say how much it means to me. First of all, thanks to Chris Nolan, because every good performance depends on a good director, I'm so damn lucky to have worked with him. Also to all the readers who voted for me for this, I really appreciate it. Thank you."

Hmm, looks like we caught him on a good day.

Sunday March 29, 2009, 19:17 (GMT)
Done In Sixty Seconds

Dara: Now for our special readers' competition. We set the challenge to remake any film of the last 20 years in no more than one minute. The Done in Sixty Seconds award produced some astonishing, imaginative and always entertaining results. Here to present is a director who knows how to work on a budget: Shane Meadows.

Shane Meadows: Perfect height, this mic. Just as I requested it after Russell. I'd like to thank Empire for putting me and my missus up in the Dorchester. I've never seen such tiny bananas. There was a fruit platter, a bottle of champagne and various things that were miniature versions of their proper selves. So here are the nominees for Done in Sixty Seconds...


Stephan Power and Conal O'Meara win the award.

Stephan: "This is amazing. Thanks to Empire and Jameson, and everyone who helped us make this film. Jesus. I don't know what to say. Woooo!"

Conal: "I'm Conal and I directed the film. It's my first film. Thanks to my parents, I know it's cheesey but I have to thank them. It's an amazing honour. Can't help noticing that there's two of us and one award, so we'll have to fight to the death for this, so ONE of us will see you at the after-party."

Dara: I didn't think their speech would be longer than their film! But here's the full thing...

Well done to those winners, probably the most enthused of the night and the most-cheered since Bill Milner and Will Poulter left the stage.

Sunday March 29, 2009, 19:12 (GMT)
Best Film

Best Film

Dara: Now for Best Film. Here to present the award is a previous winner, the genius director of the Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum, Paul Greengrass.

Paul Greengrass: It's the big one, worth perhaps a Shakespearean sonnet or TS Elliot poem or something, but let's hear the nominees (Quite a lot of Crowe poetry jokes now; this may run and run)

AND THE WINNER IS...THE DARK KNIGHT ("a brilliant and brave film" says Greengrass)

Here to accept is Cillian Murphy and Kevin de la Noy. Wait, we're playing the SIXTIES Batman theme to introduce them?

DE LA NOY: "On behalf of Chris and Chuck, thank you to Empire for your support up to and since release. It was an extraordinary film to work on and thank you for this."

MURPHY: "I don't have much to add except that it's been great to be involved in this, and thanks to Empire's readers."

Sunday March 29, 2009, 19:06 (GMT)
Best British Film

Best British Film

Dara: The British film industry is riding the crest of a wave: 11 Oscars, and you've STILL padded out this category with two films I regard as Irish. Here to present is an actor who I've also incorrectly, regarded as Irish because of her performance in The Magdalene Sisters: Anne-Marie Duff.

(The two dance to her intro music as Duff comes onstage - with a certain amount of grace, it has to be said.)

Dara: That entire family makes me feel great. (referring to Duff's husband James McAvoy, fact fans)

Duff: (in an Irish accent)Sure he's out of the room, we might as well... (in her normal voice)And the nominees are....

AND THE WINNER IS...ROCKNROLLA (If it was up to me," says Duff, "I know who'd get the prize. The winner is the very British RocknRolla")

Guy Ritchie: "Thank you very much. I won't say much more because Gerry Butler is the eloquent one among us. But thank you very much for this."

Butler: "This was supposed to be Guy speaking but as usual he dumped it on me. Listen, I want to thank Guy who really wrote all the words and directed all the stuff and did a great job and it's about time he got SOMETHING right..."

Ritchie: (chases Butler away from the mike)"That's quite enough out of you Gerry."

Mark Strong: "It's great that people who know about movies and love movies decided to vote this Best British Film; thank you very much."

Sunday March 29, 2009, 19:01 (GMT)
Heath Ledger Tribute

Heath Ledger Tribute

Dara: We now come to a special award. In the last 12 months there have been many great films and great performances. But it was obvious that there was one role, one astonishing creation, that was the highlight of the year for many readers of Empire. Tragically the actor who delivered that performance, Heath Ledger, is no longer wiht us. His death robbed the film world of a great young talent and his brilliant reimagining of the Joker is left as a testament to his powers and a poignant reminder of the loss. Who knows what great work was still to come? To mark this sad loss, Empire has dedicated a special tribute award to this fine actor, to acknowledge the outstanding work of Heath Ledger."

Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan joined those paying tribute to Ledger in the video tribute to the actor. A big cheer from the room at the end.

Sunday March 29, 2009, 18:57 (GMT)
Best Soundtrack

Best Soundtrack

Dara:Next up is Soundtrack, awarded to a soundtrack, be it song or score, that lifted a film out of the ordinary, and here to present is TV presenter and Radio One in the Afternoon host, a bona fide film fan, Edith Bowman.

Edith Bowman: I hope that by the time I get back to the table the crudites are gone, so Danny Boyle please tuck in to those. Soundtrack for me is often the reason I get into a film, it sets the mood, so let's see the nominees...

AND THE WINNER IS...Mamma Mia! (Tim Burton was dancing to Dancing Queen)

BENNY & BJORN: "We're very honoured to have won this award. it's special because the readers of Empire have voted, and we're delighted that the British public loved this film so much, and delighted that our music still lives on. Thank you very much."

Dara: "Bit unfair there - four movies with music written for them and one that started life as a Greatest Hits album. "

Sunday March 29, 2009, 18:52 (GMT)
Best Sci-Fi / Superhero

Best Sci-Fi / Superhero

Dara: Next up is a category that proves that comic-book lovers don't actually grow up, they just get better and better movies to keep them away from girls. Here to present is a very talented female actor who recently appeared alongside Jason Isaacs in Good, and with here is a man who as Captain Apollo breathed new life into Battlestar Galactica...Jodi Whitaker and Jamie Bamber.

Bamber: "One thing I've learned working in sci-fi TV over the past five years is that you don't often get invited to award shows like this, so these nominees should consider themselves lucky!"


James McAvoy: "Oh my god, I got an award from the CAG! Er, not everyone's going to get that (It's a Battlestar thing, people, you wouldn't understand). I wasn't sure what to say but I was inspired by another winner tonight so I think I'll just say... (adopts deep, serious tones)stop all the clocks... Bullshit is all I have, to take this award away. This was a great year for British cinema, so it's when I chose to leave for the Czech Republic and make an American-funded film about superheroes. But I did learn to bend bullets, and thanks to Timur [Bekmambetov, director] for that."

Sunday March 29, 2009, 18:45 (GMT)
Best Director

Best Director

Dara: I made a point of shaking Russell's hand just so I could see the look of "Who the fuck are you?" on his face. But now, to present Best Director is an actor who's given us many great performances; some recent triumphs include the Harry Potter films, The State Within, The Curse of Steptoe and Good, to name but a few. He's also been a huge part of the Empire awards over the years, so please welcome the fantastic Jason Isaacs.

Jason Isaacs: "I just said to my wife, 'I hope I don't have to follow Russell Crowe.' I want to say a few words about Great Ormond Street - but first i want to say something about Empire, because they're written by and for people who love film, not like us who sometimes love film and sometimes just do it for the paycheque. But in this time of credit crunch Empire has decided to give something back to charity and support Great Ormond Street, which does fantastic work for sick children. So please give some money." (That's the short version, but we were so busy gazing at him that we didn't get the rest)

"I'll tell you something about directors; there's always one on set, I think it's a union thing. They get the best headphones normally. They always arrive late and leave first. On location, they get first pick of the actors to have sex with, and judging by my director friends they're always moaning. If it wasn't for them, there'd be a lot more money to go around, but here are the nominees."

AND THE WINNER IS.... CHRISTOPHER NOLAN ("...who really wanted to be here but couldn't open his front door for gold bullion", says Isaacs)

Nolan: "Sorry I can't be there this evening, I really wish I could. Thank you very much to all the readers of Empire magazine and everyone who voted. When you make a film like Dark Knight you really hope it reaches a lot of people, and Empire and its readers are really a great audience. Thank you very much."

Sunday March 29, 2009, 18:35 (GMT)
A Pause - and Actor of our Lifetime

A Pause - and Actor of our Lifetime

Dara: "Here's a thing: we're in a pause at the moment waiting for a limo to pull up, so I'm going to go through all the shit I didn't put in my introduction. Like, you know those things at the beginning of the DVD where they start saying You wouldn't steal a car... I know I wouldn't! Can you not get together and direct a better one of those? The best things about illegal DVDs are they don't have those adverts."

"Anyway, he's arrived now. This year marks Empire's 20th birthday, so the big brains at the magazine decided to honour an actor who has delivered some of the finest big-screen performances, who has created some unforgettable movie moments and who has become a favourite of Empire and its readers. Here to present this remarkable award is a singer-songwriter and close personal friend of the winner: it's the brilliant, no-nonsense Billy Bragg."

Billy Bragg: "I've eaten three bags of Maltesers since I came in here I'm so nervous. I first met this guy seven years ago when he asked me to dinner and we ended up in his room playing guitars until all hours of the night. I don't meet many big stars but this one is rather special. Over the last 20 years many great actors have emerged but none have had the impact of this winner. He's got the talent and presence of a De Niro, a Pacino, a Brando. The transformations have been incredible: from LA Confidential to The Insider to Gladiator to this month's State of Play. He is as uncompromising as any director - and throughout his career he has formed bonds with Ron Howard and especially his brother in arms Ridley Scott. I'm proud to present this award to my fellow singer-songwriter Russell Crowe!"

The man himself appears, bounding up to the podium from stage left.

Crowe: "Good evening. Words! (produces notes) 'I am celebrating my love for you with a pint of beer and a new tattoo. Imagine there's no heaven. I don't know if you're loving somebody. To be a poet and not know the trade, to be a lover and repel all women. Twin ironies by which great saints are made, the agonising pincer-jaws of heaven. if you can walk with crowds and keep your virtue, walk with kings but not lose the common touch, if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much;
yours is the earth and everything that's in it and what's more, you'll be a man. It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your breath away.' Thank you for this honour, and the opportunity to read some poetry at a British awards ceremony. It's one of my favourite things to do. Thank you and good night."

Ha! That started off as a weird speech that rather freaked everyone out, but at least Crowe got in a little self-deprecating dig there at the end to his BAFTA appearance of a few years back.

Sunday March 29, 2009, 18:30 (GMT)
Best Thriller

Best Thriller

Dara: Here is a frighteningly good looking person to present Best Thriller, who standing next to me will make me look like a person from the Make A Wish foundation for Ugly People. He's the star of 21 and 50 Dead Men Walking: Jim Sturgess, ladies and gentlemen.


"You're going to love this, you're going to eat your words" says Sturgess to O Briain as he announces the winner, referening O Briain's earlier slagging off of Quantum's plot.

Olga Kurylenko: "Good evening. it's such a pleasure being here tonight and I'm very happy to receive this award. First of all I'd like to thank all the readers of Empire for supporting our film, and I accept this award on behalf of everyone who worked on Quantum of Solace. It was wonderful to work with people from the UK - by now it feels like home to me because I've spent so much time here. i especially want to thank Barbara Broccoli, Michael Wilson, Marc Forster and of course Daniel Craig."

Dara: "I'd just like to say that that introduction for Jim Sturgess was originally written when he was going to be accompanied by a beautiful young actress, so it was supposed to sound less gay."

We can confirm that that was the case. Sadly she couldn't be with us tonight.

Sunday March 29, 2009, 18:25 (GMT)
Best Horror

Best Horror

Dara: "No one can say we're not enjoying a glorious age of top-quality horror; gone are the days when they'd just get a couple of sitcom stars and have them chased by vampires with their tits out... Here to present are two stars from the next word in British indie cool, the upcoming Shifty and with them a delightful woman who will probably slap me for slagging off her husband in the last two intros: Danny Mays and Riz Ahmed and from Gavin & Stacy Joanna Page..."


James Watkins: "I really want to thank my producer Christian, who also worked on Slumdog Millionaire so he made the feelgood film and the most depressing film of the year, and my wife, thank you."

Thomas Turgoose: "I don't know what to say, except thank you to James - it's his first film, and it's great that he's so good at what he does. And great to be here twice in two years."

We've just realised that the very short person we saw wandering about earlier was the in fact very young Turgoose. Let's hope no one lets him near the Jameson or we'll all be in trouble.

Sunday March 29, 2009, 18:19 (GMT)
Best Comedy

Best Comedy

Dara: "Comedy's come a long way: I remember the old days where they would get a couple of sitcom stars and just let them chase some vampires with their tits out....oh. But here are the fantastically funny stars of The Thick of It, who are now headed to the big screen with In The Loop: it's Peter Capaldi, Armando Ianucci, Chris Addison and Tom Hollander."

Iannucci: You're expecting the funniest 30-seconds ever now, but we've got to hold it back for the clips.

AND THE WINNER IS...Son of Rambow

Garth Jennings, Will Poulter and Bill Milner and Nick Goldsmith make their way to the stage.

Garth: "Thanks very much, thank you Empire for supporting our little film as well, and obviously people that voted, we like you too. Thank you enormously. I want to thank Nick especially, but I have to thank Will and Bill here especially who have never acted before but were extraordinary."

Bill: "Thank you. I'm not really sure what I should say, but this is crazy, thank you very much."

Will: "I want to thank Empire for supporting the film, Nick and Garth for giving us the chance and everyone for having us today, it's amazing."

The whole room is putty in Poulter and Milner's hands - if we weren't all aware that they're adolescents and probably far too cool to put up with it, there'd be "awwwww"s going around. As it is, what sounds like coos at their cuteness are in fact, we hope, acknowledgements that they're talented young actors.

Sunday March 29, 2009, 18:14 (GMT)
Best Newcomer

Best Newcomer

Dara: "Our first award tonight is for best newcomer, which recognises those shiny, hungry and immensely talented new actors who've made a huge impact and who will definitely turn up because they're still new. Hello to the nominees! Here to present is a very talented actor who for me was the real eye-candy in Pirates of the Caribbean: Mackenzie Crook."

Mackenzie Crook: "I was once nominated for this award. Didn't win: I lost out to Martine McCutcheon. And here I am triumphantly back again to present the nominees."

AND THE WINNER IS...Gemma Arterton. Who dances her way to the stage, pausing only to hug Kurylenko again.

Arterton: "I'm completely winging this. I never prepare for anything. Watching that I realise how wonderful all the nominees are, really and truly, especially Toby [Kebbell] who's a good friend of mine. But thank you all very much, it does mean a lot. Have a great night everyone!"

Sunday March 29, 2009, 18:03 (GMT)
The Jameson Empire Awards 2009

Our host, Dara O Briain is onstage - and Terry Gilliam and Peter Capaldi are still standing talking. Tsk tsk.

"For those of you having trouble with the accent, I apologise, I'm from Ireland. Like In Bruges, one of the nominees for Best British Film tonight - but don't get me started on that. There are many gifts that Ireland has given the UK over the years - we basically built the country. Wayne Rooney is the latest one: I know many of you don't think he's Irish but a) he's called Rooney and b) look at the face on him. That's a face from Ireland. You may think he's ugly here, but in Ireland he'd be advertising Gillette Mach 10 already."

"You of the British film industry should be proud of yourselves tonight because you fuckin' OWNED the Oscars - particularly Danny Boyle who I know is in the audience tonight. It's a bit dodgy though, Brits going to India, hiring loads of cheap local labour and coming back with loads of gold statues."

"This is how popular movies are: just today Jacqui Smith's husband got flayed for liking certain movies too much. But who am I to judge? Those of us who live in glass houses should wank in the basement. The really dubious thing about him is not the two porn movies: it's the fact that he watched Ocean's 13 TWICE! Who watched that and decided to rent it again? 'I just really want to get my head around that plot.' Who thinks that? But I've got to tell you, there is a great offer on Sky Movies this week: you can watch a double-bill of Rambo and Juno. Who decided that that would be a good double bill? What weird mood would you have to be in? 'Hmm, do we watch a life-affirming movie about a smart-arsed, pregnant teen into guitar band indie music, or one about a Burmese man getting his head punched clean off? Let's do both!'

"But it was a good year for old men taking their shirts off - like Indiana Jones IV. That's testament to the determination of Hollywood's greatest old-age pensioners to appear naked from the waist up long after it is advisable. That was proof that there was too much money in the economy - like the five-blade razor. What do blades four and five do that blades one, two and three didn't? And the name: it's like they thought of every boy word they could think of and called it that, so it's Gillette Fusion Power Stealth mode. Just before the recession, Kenwood brought out a Stealth kettle. Why would you want a kettle you can't find? Same thing: too much money."

"But the movie industry is being very savvy about this. I recently saw a very glossy Virgin Atlantic advert; it was called Quantum of Solace. I mean, I know how product placement works: I recently watched a Jessica Alba movie and at the end of it I wanted Jessica Alba. But seriously, Quantum of Solace made no sense from beginning to end - which is how a Bond movie should be. That hotel at the end: who designed that hotel? A hotel that explodes if you fart in its general direction. What architect came up with that? 'We've built a hotel of the three most explosive things known to man: liquid nitrogen, dynamite and Christian Bale's eyeline!'"

That was FUNNY! I hope it's funny to read, but O Briain delivering it was proper good.

Sunday March 29, 2009, 17:55 (GMT)
Still Not Quite Started

For those of you who don't intend to remain glued to this blog all evening (and why not?!), Sam and Chris are running around the hall making nuisances of themselves and interviewing everyone who's anyone: those videos will be online tomorrow morning.

The In The Loop crew are here: you haven't seen it yet but it's awesome. Peter Capaldi from that cast is looking dapper this evening, which is a nice change from the film where he plays an incredibly foul-mouthed spin doctor. Gemma Arterton is here, looking gorgeous (natch) and hugging Olga Kurylenko (a sight that's causing most of the men around them to wimper): I'd heard a rumour that they didn't get along but that's clearly rubbish.

Danny Boyle and Paul Greengrass are still talking, presumably comparing levels of aceness and finding that there's not much in it. They've put on a video of clips from the last year and dimmed the lights, so people are finally sitting down. Prepare! The Awards are about to begin!

Sunday March 29, 2009, 17:50 (GMT)
Who Knows Who

Viggo Mortensen is hanging with Mark Strong, Terry Gilliam's talking to Mackenzie Crook. We're trying to figure out what Mortensen and Strong are talking about. Possibly how many men they've killed (onscreen), judging by the gestures. Gerard Butler's here: THIS! IS! AWESOME!

Tim Burton and Paul Greengrass have been knocking back pink cocktails together - perhaps they're planning some collaboration that will be simultaneously hyper-real and handheld and hyper-fantastical. Well, we can dream.

Jamie Bamber's chatting to Anne-Marie Duff and someone who inconsiderately for you, the readers, has his back to me. Now Paul Greengrass is hanging with Danny Boyle - he's a friend slut! Poor Tim Burton, abandoned with only everyone else to talk to.

John's just informed me that Elliot didn't trip Burton as reported in the last instalment; he pushed him. Elliot will now be fired, at once.

Sunday March 29, 2009, 17:42 (GMT)
Finally, Everyone Listens To God

The Voice of God PA system once again reiterated that it really is time to take seats, and this time people seem to be listening. There's Guy Ritchie, the League of Gentlemen*, Terry Gilliam (with ponytail - SUCH a dude), Joanna Page from Gavin & Stacy, Jason Isaacs (note to self: stalk later). I'm still trying to spot a few people. The rumour is that both Jamie Bamber and Dominic West are turning up, so I'm thinking we can have a live fistfight to decide once and for all which is better: Battlestar Galactica or The Wire.

Our designer Elliott tripped up Tim Burton and is beating himself up about it - as well he might. "He's one of my heros!" claims Elliott. Not sure we believe him: you don't trip Tim Burton if he's your hero. Speaking of Burton, he's just walked in. Judging by his hair, he slept on his left-hand side last night.

*How you know you're a comic-book geek: you keep wanting to insert an "Extraordinary" in there.

Sunday March 29, 2009, 17:33 (GMT)
Someone Move That Pillar

How irritating: there's a thoughtlessly placed pillar preventing me from seeing who Martin Freeman is chatting to. I'm amusing myself instead by imagining a scenario where half the guests unexpectedly turn into orcs and Sean and Viggo have to defend us all. The Voice of God says the awars are about to begin, so expect things to get underway in, ooooh, 30 to 40 minutes. Wrangling celebrities, after all, ranks somewhere between shushing toddlers and herding cats in terms of difficulty.

Sunday March 29, 2009, 17:28 (GMT)
Young, Hot And Right Here

Jodie Whitaker, her from Venus, is greeting her Good co-star Mortensen and there's a whole lot of air-kissing going on. James McAvoy and his missus, Anne-Marie Duff, are chatting away and looking all luvey-dovey as ever: news that will break some hearts out there, I fear.

Sunday March 29, 2009, 17:25 (GMT)
Things Heat Up

Hayley Atwell's wandering around the room now, looking very glamorous in black with sparkly bits, but never mind that: Viggo Mortensen and Sean Bean are right there, looking quite delectably good and causing us to have intense Lord of the Rings flashbacks that could prove rather problematic to this blog. I mean, Bean actually has long-ish hair and a beard, and Viggo's grown his out too, so they look just like Boromir and Aragorn. Gosh. Might need a minute. The Voice of God has just announced that it's ten minutes to showtime, so let's see if anyone pays any heed...

Sunday March 29, 2009, 17:08 (GMT)
I Know Something You Don't Know

Ooooooh, exciting. Someone just gave me a running order, all the better to organise my thoughts for this blog, and a copy of some of our host Dara O Briain's planned remarks. Good news: they're funny! Bad news: in a few spots, the script just reads "assorted jokes here" so I can't just tell you the whole thing.

I can reveal, however, that there's a very good Lesbian Vampire Killers joke in there. Which is more than there was in that film - oh zing! And apologies for that - I actually quite like James Corden and Matthew Horne, and after last year's appalling Keira Knightley monologue that James did, he'll always hold a special place in our hearts here.

By the way, if you've ever wondered what the backstage area at a show like this is like, it's full of people with radio mikes clipped to their belts, button-thingies in their ear and an air of controlled panic hanging around them as they skitter from place to place for no discernable reason. At least in this case they're all in black tie rather than the usual jeans-and-fleece that completes such an outfit.

First celeb into the room: Mackenzie Crook is just being talked through his presenting duties. Everyone else is still downing the whiskey cocktails outside. The first guests have taken their seats and started rooting through the goodie bags for the good stuff. In theory, we start in 15 minutes. In practice, I'm not so sure that will happen.

Sunday March 29, 2009, 16:42 (GMT)
T- Minus About An Hour And A Half

What are we, NASA? You think you're going to get exact times here? Sorry, not going to happen. But in any case, welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Jameson Empire Awards 2009, perhaps the most exciting event on the movie calendar, especially for those of us who work for Empire and therefore get to attend.

That said, it's not massively exciting at the moment. Let me explain: I'm at the back of the empty ballroom on Park Lane where the awards are being held, but all the exciting and interesting people are either still adjusting their thousand-pound outfits, slowly making their way past the adoring fans lining the red carpet, or hobnobbing with the stars (ie each other) and a few slightly giggly Empireites outside in the drinks reception. But because my dedication to you guys knows no bounds, I'm in here blogging. Where I can see some waiters going around the tables opening bottles, lighting candles and applying ice to the alcohol.

On the more exciting side, however, I just glimpsed Empire favourite Jason Isaacs through the door! This is very exciting because a) it wouldn't be the Empire awards if he didn't come and b) we all seem to have girl / man crushes on him. At one point late on last year, the ENTIRE Empire staff were gathered around him gazing adoringly as he regalled us with anecdotes unfit to print about co-stars through the years. Really unfit to print: it involved a hospital scene and a VERY big star and the young Isaacs.

I've just spotted the Son of Rambow kids through the door as well: it's starspotting at a distance! Here in the ballroom they're playing rather lovely but ever-so-slightly depressing Irish music, probably in tribute to tonight's host, Dara O'Briain, our tonight's sponson, Jameson Whiskey (note the 'e' - that's how you know it's Irish not Scottish) or, I like to think, possibly in tribute to me.

Friday March 27, 2009, 16:47 (GMT)
Coming Soon...

Join us here from about 5.30pm, when we'll start blogging the arrivals and gossip from the Jameson Empire Awards live as it happens. We'll bring you the winners, their speeches and all the shenanigans that are fit to print throughout the course of the evening.

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