Mr. Nobody (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jaco Van Dormael|
|Produced by||Philippe Godeau|
|Written by||Jaco Van Dormael|
|Music by||Pierre Van Dormael|
|Edited by||Matyas Veress
|Distributed by||Wild Bunch|
|Running time||141 minutes
157 minutes (Director's cut)
Mr. Nobody is a 2009 science fiction drama film. It was written and directed by Jaco Van Dormael, produced by Philippe Godeau, and starring Jared Leto, Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger, Linh Dan Pham, Rhys Ifans, Natasha Little, Toby Regbo and Juno Temple. The film tells the life story of Nemo Nobody, a 118 year-old man who is the last mortal on Earth after the human race has achieved quasi-immortality. Nemo, memory fading, refers to his three main loves and to his parents' divorce and subsequent hardships endured at three critical junctions in his life: at age nine, fifteen, and thirty-four. Alternate life paths branching out from each of those critical junctions are examined. The speculative narrative often changes course with the flick of a different possible decision at each of those ages. The film uses nonlinear narrative and the many-worlds interpretation style.
Mr. Nobody had its world premiere at the 66th Venice International Film Festival where it received the Golden Osella and the Biografilm Lancia Award. Critical response was generally strong and the film was nominated for seven Magritte Awards, winning six, including Best Film and Best Director for Van Dormael. The film was mostly funded through European financiers and was released in Belgium on 13 January 2010. Since its original release, Mr. Nobody has become a cult film, noted for its philosophy and cinematography, personal characters and Pierre Van Dormael's soundtrack.
In the year 2092, Nemo Nobody is a 118-year-old man, the last mortal on Earth. Humanity has conquered mortality through the endless renewal of cells, living in a shining future accompanied by their stem cell compatible pigs. The world watches in fascination as Mr. Nobody edges towards death, curious to know of life before quasi-immortality. Nemo says that he remembers nothing about his past and a psychiatrist, Dr. Feldheim, tries to make him recall memories through hypnosis while other memories are told to a journalist. Nemo spits out contradictory pieces as he is prodded, and no one is sure what happened and what didn't. He is an enigma, often thinking that he is only 34 years old with no traceable record of his life. He recounts his life at three primary points: at age nine when his parents divorce, at age fifteen when he fell in love, and at age thirty-four as an adult. All three unfold into their many possible outcomes.
It is explained that before birth, children remember everything that will happen in their lives, but at the moment of conception, the Angels of Oblivion make them forget everything. The Angels, however, by either deliberate or accidental oversight, pass over Nemo and thereby allow him to "remember" different possible futures for himself. But first he must choose his parents from a variety of candidate couples. Then at age 9, his second choice occurs after their divorce when he has to decide with whom he will live. At a railway station he is forced to choose as his mother leaves on a train while his father stands on the platform. In one case he runs to reach the train and his mother manages to pull him in while in another he stays with his father.
Life with mother
Nemo lives with his mother and her new partner, Harry, with whom he does not get along. He is rebellious, claiming he can predict the future. He sees a new girl, Anna, in his school and is immediately smitten. One day as he sits on the beach, Anna runs up to him and asks if he'd like to swim with her and her friends. In one case, Nemo answers "They're idiots. I don't go swimming with idiots." He forever regrets these words, and 19 years later he runs into Anna at a train station with her two children. They engage in an awkward conversation before going on their way.
In an alternate story line, he tells her he cannot swim, and she stays with him on the beach. It is revealed that Anna is Harry's daughter and the two step siblings begin an illicit affair under the noses of their parents. Anna becomes Nemo's first love and they pledge their lives to one another. They are happy but when Harry and Nemo's mother break up, Anna has to go to New York with her father, and they lose touch. Years later, Nemo works as a pool cleaner, hoping to run into Anna by chance. They finally see one another at the train station and immediately recognize each other in a crowd of passers-by. After a passionate reunion, Anna announces she is not ready to immediately resume the relationship. She gives him her number, asks him to call her in two days and meet at the lighthouse. However her number is lost when a sudden downpour makes the slip of paper illegible. Nemo chooses to wait at the lighthouse every day and becomes homeless in the process. Anna does not come. In a different story line, Anna and Nemo are married with children. Nemo works at a television studio narrating educational videos, and while returning home one evening, he loses control of the car after hitting a bird and plummets into a lake.
Life with father
Nemo stays with his father who later becomes disabled. Nemo takes care of him, becoming uncommunicative. He works in a shop and spends his free time at home at the typewriter, writing a fantasy story about a journey to Mars. At a school dance, he meets Elise and falls in love. A few days later, Nemo goes to Elise's house but sees her with her 22-year-old boyfriend and leaves. Frustrated, he speeds with his motorcycle on a forest road until he skids on a wet leaf, hits a tree and is hospitalized in a vegetative state. Though he can feel, smell, hear, and see light through his eyelids, he is trapped in his paralyzed body. He notes the different nurses that take care of him and even detects his parents' reunion at his bedside. Nemo tries to remember the movement of his fingers on the typewriter keyboard and eventually manages to lift a finger as this story line comes to close.
In yet another alternate timeline, Nemo speaks with Elise at her house, but she rejects him saying she loves her boyfriend Stefano despite his disregard for her. But in this instance Nemo doesn't back down. He keeps assuring her of his feelings. Finally Elise gives in and, a few years later, they finally get married. In one version of the story line, Elise dies in an accident on the return from the wedding. Nemo keeps her ashes, having promised her to spread them on Mars. After doing so, aboard the giant hibernation spacecraft about to begin its long journey back to Earth, he meets Anna, but before they can even say much to each other, the ship is destroyed by meteoroids. Alternatively, after the accident that kills Elise, Nemo works at the same television studio but his assistant drowns instead. The assistant's widow is Anna, whom he recognizes. Another storyline has Nemo and Elise married with three children. However their marriage is unhappy as Elise suffers from borderline personality disorder and chronic depression. She has attacks of hysteria and, despite Nemo's attempts to save their marriage, ultimately leaves him to pursue her first love, Stefano.
Alternatively, after the younger Elise rejects the teenage Nemo, he goes home and tells his father that he'll marry the first girl who will dance with him at the school prom. That night he meets Jeanne. They dance, and while taking her home on his motorcycle, Nemo pledges to marry her and be successful. Despite having succeeded in following his plans, Nemo is unhappy, and his life is boring and unpleasant. Jeanne suspects she means nothing to him and wonders why he's written over all his possessions to her and their two children. Nemo begins relying on the flipping of a coin to make decisions and leaves his family. At the airport, he pretends to a waiting chauffeur to be a passenger named Daniel Jones. When he arrives at his hotel room he receives a mysterious phone call warning him to leave, before he is murdered by mistake whilst taking a bath, his body dumped in the woods.
Running throughout all the many paths his life could take or has taken, the adult Nemo recurringly awakens in a surrealistic world dominated by argyle patterns. This setting seems artificial, like a movie set, and often appears to bleed over into his other lives. Following clues that he finds scattered throughout this city, he ultimately arrives at a crumbling, abandoned old wooden-framed house. There he stumbles upon a dusty and incongruently modern, functioning DVD player that is hooked up to a pristine plasma television screen. By means of the strangely interactive video, 118 year-old Nemo actually converses with him and explains to him that he, the much younger man, doesn't exist. The older Nemo explains that he is experiencing the story from the end and that Nemo must stay alive until 5:50 AM on 12 February 2092.
Before his death, Mr. Nobody tells the journalist that they both don't exist; they are simply figments of the boy Nemo's mind in the moment he is being forced to make an impossible choice. The journalist is then seen looking out of a train window at 9-year-old Nemo as he just misses catching hold of his mother's hand. The young Nemo has been trying to find the correct decision, following each choice to its ultimate conclusion. Back at the railway station one final time, Nemo decides upon an unexpected third option: to not make the choice at all. He abandons both parents and runs away from the tracks towards an unknown future. He arrives at a forest and picks up a leaf and blows it into the wind. He ends up as the adult Nemo sleeping on a bench by the lighthouse and waiting for Anna's return. There she appears and an ecstatically joyful reunion between the two follows. The calculated time arrives and Mr. Nobody's last words are watched by the world. The expansion of the universe comes to a halt and time reverses. The 118 year-old man then cackles triumphantly (in reverse of course) as he springs back into awareness with the realization that his younger self has finally found his one true love and life.
- Jared Leto as Nemo Nobody, both 34 and 118 years old. Nemo is a Latin word meaning "nobody". The name Nemo alludes to Captain Nemo, the main character of Jules Verne's novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. It is the false name that Odysseus in Homer's poem Odyssey gives to the cyclops Polyphemus, to deceive him and save his own life. Van Dormael said that Leto was chosen because he is "an actor who could transform himself, as much physically as vocally, rhythmically, his breathing." Leto described his role saying, "Mr. Nobody is everyone and no one all at the same time, an illusion, the product of his own dreams. He's love, he's hope, he's fear, he's life and he's death. This is without doubt the most complex character I've ever played. It was a challenge to keep all these lives concentrated into one character for the duration of the filming without losing myself. But we had outlines and things that helped me to keep track of where we were." Actor Toby Regbo portrays Nemo at fifteen and Thomas Byrne Nemo at nine.
- Sarah Polley as Elise, Nemo's wife with borderline personality disorder. Polley was the first to be cast in the film. She describes Elise as "a young woman who carries a lot of love inside her. She yearns to be the best of mothers but just can't do it. She's frustrated because of this inability to live the way she would like to live, all of this stemming from her depression. She doesn't understand why she can't pull out of it. Over time she develops a feeling of shame and guilt towards her husband and her children." Actress Clare Stone portrays Elise at fifteen.
- Diane Kruger as Anna, Nemo's one true love. Kruger described Anna as "the most complete of all the characters. She never makes any compromises, in any one of her lives. She gets married and keeps her promise until the end: she will not fall in love with anyone else." Actress Eva Green was originally reported for the role, but the casting was not confirmed. Actress Juno Temple portrays Anna at fifteen.
- Linh Dan Pham as Jeanne, Nemo's wealthy but loveless wife. Pham said that Jeanne "loves Nemo Nobody with a passion but he doesn't love her. Their meeting was a misunderstanding. She thought he was honest and full of love for her. But as soon as they start a family she realizes that something is missing in their relationship, that he's never really there. It also shows that lives that seem perfect on paper might not be so perfect in reality." Actress Audrey Giacomini portrays Jeanne at fifteen.
- Rhys Ifans as Nemo's father. Van Dormael chose Ifans after seeing his "multifaceted" performances in Notting Hill (1999) and Enduring Love (2004).
- Natasha Little as Nemo's mother. Little was suggested by the casting director in London. Van Dormael said that "her role was decisive for the film: it was necessary that the mother should destroy the childhood happiness but that one would feel the need to go with her at the same time. That's what Natasha managed to achieve."
Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael began seeking to film Mr. Nobody in 2001, an attempt that lasted six years before the director was able to make his English-language feature debut in 2007. Van Dormael's project differed from other Belgian productions in being filmed in English instead of in one of Belgium's main languages. The director explained, "The story came to me in English. It's a story set over very long distances and time frames. One of the strands of the plot is about a kid who must choose between living with his mother in Canada or his father in England. There are also some incredible English-speaking actors I wanted to work with." Mr. Nobody is Van Dormael's first feature film since the Belgian film Le huitième jour (The Eighth Day) in 1996. Van Dormael began preparing production of Mr. Nobody in February 2007 with actress Sarah Polley the first to be cast in the film. Actor Jared Leto was later cast into the primary role of Nemo Nobody.
The production budget for Mr. Nobody was €33 million (US$47 million), ranking it the most expensive Belgian film to date. The budget was approved before casting was done, based on the prominence of the director's name and the strength of his script. Half of the budget was provided by the film's French producer Philippe Godeau through his production company Pan-Européenne, and the other half was financed by distributors Wild Bunch and Pathé. Production took place throughout 2007, lasting 120 days and filming in Belgium, Germany, and Canada. Scenes were filmed on location in Montreal, Canada and at Babelsberg Studios in Berlin, Germany. Van Dormael said, "I think the film needed that for these multiple lives. Each time a new style of setting is required. And each life is filmed in a different style, with a different grammar for the camera, the colours, the decor. At the same time, if all the styles have to be very contrasted, they knock together by fusing." The three lives that Nemo Nobody experiences were separated by color-coding and musical cues. Each life's design was also based on the work of British photographer Martin Parr.
The idea of parallel lives has been explored before in films such as Run Lola Run (1998) and Sliding Doors (1998) which influenced Van Dormael's writing. Unlike any of those, Mr. Nobody has philosophical underpinning inspired by scientific tomes on chaos theory and the butterfly effect, pigeon superstition, and the space-time continuum. Van Dormael stated, "My starting point was a 12-minute short I made in 1982 called È pericoloso sporgersi. A kid runs behind a train with two possible choices: to go with his mother or with his father. From there we follow two possible futures. I started one version based on the fact that a woman jumps or doesn't jump on a train. Then Sliding Doors by Peter Howitt came out, followed by Run Lola Run by Tom Tykwer. I had to find something else. And that's when I realised that the story I was trying to tell was not binary, that I was above all interested by the multiplicity and complexity of choices. With this screenplay I wanted to make the viewer feel the abyss that is the infinity of possibilities. Beyond this, I wanted to find a different way of telling a story. I wanted the gaze of the child on his future to meet the gaze of the old man he has become on his past. I wanted to talk about complexity through cinema, which is a simplifying medium. While reality around us is more and more complex, the information is more and more succinct, political speeches are more and more simplistic. What interests me is complexity. Not the simple answers, which are reassuring but bound to be false."
While producing the film, Van Dormael took the unique step of publishing his screenplay. The director described the scale of the film, "My producers don't like me saying it, but it's really a big-budget experimental film about the many different lives one person can live, depending on the choices he makes. It's about the infinite possibilities facing any person. There are no good or bad choices in life. It's simply that each choice will create another life for you. What's interesting is to be alive."
Jaco Van Dormael hired visual effects supervisor Louis Morin, known for his work in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), to create visual effects for Mr. Nobody. All five hundred visual effects shots were produced in Quebec by Quebec companies. Modus FX announced having delivered 121 digital visual effects shots for the film. The company was entrusted with complex sequences which could not be captured on film, involving the digital reproduction of entire cities, villages and other-worldly settings. Modus FX also worked on several complex transitions between the different worlds and multiple lives of Nemo Nobody. Modus FX's post-production contributions involved 37 digital artists and technicians across a six-month period. A long list of software, including Autodesk's Softimage and Maya, Side Effects' Houdini and The Foundry's Nuke, and the creation of a multitude of in-house tools, programs and techniques was required for the shots delivered.
Like Van Dormael's previous films, the score for Mr. Nobody was written by Pierre Van Dormael. He worked on simple themes and out of synch loops, "a mixture of superficial simplicity and underlying complexity." He wrote themes that overlapped to form new ones, each theme continuing to exist while being mixed with the others. The director did not want the music to be overtly emotional, so he and Pierre chose a minimalist orchestration, more often than not just a single guitar. Van Dormael said, "We wanted the instrument and the player to be felt. This stance actually sums up the whole adventure: a maximalist project with a minimalist approach." Mr. Nobody is the last film of composer Pierre Van Dormael before his death in 2008. His music won the Magritte Award for Best Original Score in 2012.
The soundtrack features songs by Pierre Van Dormael, Buddy Holly, Hans Zimmer, Otis Redding, Eurythmics, Pixies, Wallace Collection, Nena, Ella Fitzgerald, and The Andrew Sisters, as well as versions of "Mr. Sandman" performed by The Chordettes, The King Brothers, Emmylou Harris, and Gob, and recordings of compositions by Erik Satie and Benjamin Britten, among others.
Mr. Nobody is a tale about choice. Nemo, a nine-year-old boy, has been thrust into a position where he must make an impossible decision – to choose between his mother and father. In the seconds preceding the rest of his life he wonders where each choice will take him. The forces of the universe working to bring about total chaos are counteracted by this boy's overactive imagination. The dilemma that causes the film's main problem (not knowing the future) once solved makes it all the more difficult – "I don't know the future, therefore I cannot make a decision. Now that I know the future I still cannot make one." The eloquent interplay between philosophical lifestyle and what forges reality, is epitomized by the constant change in storyline, between young boy, adolescent man, and mature man. The film takes a four-dimensionalists view of the nature and existence of life in the universe. Each decision thus branching off creating an entirely separate alternative universe. Mr. Nobody raises many ontological arguments about the subjective nature of time. How actions have universal consequences, how the past inevitably shapes the future in a very impacting way – every single choice, no matter its simplicity or complexity can make, alter or change a lifetime.
The film also makes substantial use of chaos theory, string theory and the butterfly effect to accentuate the lack of control humanity as individuals possess. Often at each stage of his life there is a scene where Nemo is subject to the whims of chance, often plunging into water, a place where humans lack all control. This is a visual symbol of the powerlessness attributed to the human condition. The theories are used to compound reality in the film, it is why the smoke never goes back into the cigarette, time is always moving in one direction. At the end when it assumes that the universe is on the precipice of ultimate chaos, making use of the Big Crunch theory, time halts, and it begins to reverse. Thus signalling the absolute freedom Nemo had been seeking – being able to live a life without choice, for while you never choose all things remain possible. The tale of Nemo Nobody reflects a life of choices, whether or not we made the correct choice and what would happen if we could go back and change them. In the reveal Mr. Nobody age 118 states that it doesn't matter what we choose, because each choice, once made has just as much significance as any alternate choice. The film portrays a life where we are all subject to chance, to the dimensions by which we construct our reality (height, length, width and time), and to the imagination of our former selves. And once the boy Nemo knows the outcomes of either choice, he instinctively opts for another.
The different colors used in the film have symbolic meanings. Each of the three main storylines has its own unique hue that highlights their originality and unlikeness to each other. Color differentiation can be traced as far back as Nemo's childhood, where three girls sit on a bench. They are his possible future wives: Jeanne, Elise and Anna; one in yellow, the other in blue, the third in a red dress. In his life with Elise, Nemo experiences the consequences of depression and despair, themes associated with the color blue. Choosing Jeanne, Nemo seeks material well-being and independence: yellow – the color of life and wealth – emphasizes this. The true love and passionate relationship between Nemo and Anna is symbolized by the red color of Anna's dress. It is noteworthy that the unborn Nemo is shown living in a white world. White contains all colors of the visible spectrum; this supports the allegorical message of the film that all things are possible until a choice is made. By the end of his life Nemo is a decrepit old man and lives in a white surrounding (room, clothes, doctor). This way we can see that the fate of the protagonist leads him back to the origins from where he started, the point at which everything is possible.
An earlier, longer, work-in-progress version of the film was rejected for competition by the Cannes Film Festival, which offered that cut of Mr. Nobody an out-of-competition berth. Producer Philippe Godeau turned that down. The decision by the Cannes Film Festival not to exhibit the film created a national controversy. Eventually, the studio held the film's world premiere at the 66th Venice International Film Festival on 12 September 2009. Six days later, Mr. Nobody screened as a special presentation during the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. Additionally, the film was screened at the Sitges Film Festival and the Stockholm International Film Festival before its theatrical release. Mr. Nobody had its American premiere on 25 June 2011, at the Los Angeles Film Festival, nearly two years since its original debut. It was among more than 200 feature films, short projects, and music videos, from more than 30 countries, to be shown at the festival. The Consul General of Belgium, Geert Criel, held a second United States screening of Mr. Nobody on 21 December 2011, at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.
Mr. Nobody initially opened in 36 theaters in Belgium in its opening weekend and grossed USD $227,917, placing fourth and posting a per-theater average of $6,331. Over the second weekend, the film dropped 21.9% in revenue, earning $178,098. Grossing nearly $1 million, it became one of the ten highest-grossing 2010 films in Belgium. The film was released in France on 13 January 2010, opening in 150 theaters and had a disappointing opening weekend due to the mixed response from French critics. It finished eighth on its first weekend of release earning $640,517, and by its second weekend of release had dropped to the bottom of the top ten with a total of $1,051,211. Magnolia Pictures released the film in the United States in select theaters on 1 November 2013.
Mr. Nobody was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in France on 21 July 2010, through Pathé, in two formats: a single-disc wide-screen version which special features include a trailer, making-of and a photo gallery; and a two-disc wide-screen special edition. The latter contains the director's cut of the film which has 1 re-cut, 23 extended scenes and 12 additional scenes integrated into the original footage, running about 16 minutes longer than the theatrical version. The Warner Home Video Dutch release includes new specials features: interactive menu, scene access, a making-of, a behind the scenes, deleted scenes and a photo gallery. On 11 January 2011, it was released in Canada through Entertainment One on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, with a making-of featurette, behind the scenes footage and deleted scenes. Optimum Home Entertainment released Mr. Nobody to the British market on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 12 September 2011, with few special features. It contains a making-of with Leto interview and a trailer of the film.
Upon its premiere at the 66th Venice International Film Festival, Mr. Nobody was positively received with a ten-minute standing ovation from the audience. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 73% of critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.8 out of 10. Jennie Punter of The Globe and Mail praised the film, stating "Van Dormael holds this fractured fairy tale together by giving it an emotional core and delivers two hours of time travel with a playful spirit and at a mostly hyperkinetic pace, sprinkling it with amusing side journeys and sometimes letting a scene unfold at a more natural tempo." Bruce Kirkland of Jam! gave the film four stars out of five and wrote, "Expect the unexpected. Try to answer the unanswerable question that writer-director Van Dormael poses. It is a worthwhile exercise." He also described Leto's acting as a "marvelously full-blooded, brain-spinning, tour-de-force performance." Ken Eisner from The Georgia Straight summarized the film as "a dazzling feat of philosophical fancy, and it attempts nothing less than the summing up of an entire life, and an epoch or two, with its free-spinning take on recent human history as projected into possible futures."
Niels Matthijs, writing for Twitch Film, stated that "It's astounding how van Dormael turns each scene into a unique little cinematic event. There is hardly filler here, no scenes to drag out the running time or to fill some gaps in between other climaxes. Every scene matters and every scene is made to look like it matters. The director uses all means to his disposal to keep the viewer engaged and interested in the life of the main protagonist, Nemo Nobody." Fred Topel, writing for Screen Junkies, praised the film's artistry, saying "All of Nemo's lives are painful. No matter what he chooses, he experiences heartbreak, death of loved ones, his own death, and clinical depression. My future seems brighter, but the film makes the strong point that every experience is worthwhile. The goal isn't to choose the easiest path. It's to live." Chris Holt from Starburst magazine wrote that "Mr. Nobody is a film that is remarkable by its very existence and that in itself is something to be happy about. You may love it you may hate it, but you can bet that you will never forget it." Exclaim!'s Robert Bell called the film "a powerful movie about what it means to be alive."
Boyd van Hoeij of Variety magazine was more critical, writing "Though a lot of it is well written and directed and, quite often, funny or poignant, the individual scenes rarely become part of a larger whole." He praises Leto's acting, stating "The closest the film comes to having a gravitational center are in the scenes set in 2092. What makes them soar is not the imaginative staging of the future, but Leto's performance. His acting talent really comes into full view in his scenes as the last dying man on Earth." He also praised Regbo and Temple, saying "Regbo, as the teenage Nemo, and Juno Temple, as the teenage Anna, are impressive, bringing the hormonal battles of adolescence vividly to life." Film critic Eric Lavallée listed Regbo as one of his "Top 10 New Faces & Voices" of 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. He notes that "newbie Toby Regbo might easily be Mr. Nobody's most "alive" character. Playing Nemo at age 16, the actor is mostly paired with Juno Temple – their unique love story is the film's heart pumping portions and plays a lot better than the artery clogging other brushes of romance."
AlloCiné, a French cinema website, gave the film an average of three out of five stars, based on a survey of 24 reviews. Xavier Leherpeur from Le Nouvel Observateur described it as "a fiction of sterile ramifications, weighed down by a script the labyrinthine constructions of which poorly conceal the poverty of inspiration". Pierre Fornerod from Ouest-France wrote that "Van Dormael plays with chance and coincidence. The demonstration is long and heavy, but aesthetically, is superb."
Mr. Nobody was nominated for and won multiple awards from numerous film organizations and festivals. It was nominated for seven Magritte Awards and was awarded six at the 1st Magritte Awards: Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay for Jaco Van Dormael, Best Cinematography for Christophe Beaucarne, Best Original Score for Pierre Van Dormael, and Best Editing for Matyas Veress. Emmanuel de Boissieu, Frédéric Demolder and Dominique Warnier lost the award for Best Sound to A Town Called Panic. In addition, the film was named Best Film of 2010 by the Belgian Film Critics Association winning the André Cavens Award, and was awarded Best Belgian Film at the 2010 Fonske Awards. It also received the People's Choice Award for Best European Film at the 23rd European Film Awards, and won the Audience Award at the Biografilm Festival.
At the 66th Venice International Film Festival, Sylvie Olivé was awarded the Golden Osella for Outstanding Technical Contribution and the film received the Biografilm Lancia Award. It was also nominated for the Golden Lion but lost to Lebanon. Jared Leto was nominated for the Volpi Cup for Best Actor. Christophe Beaucarne received Best Cinematography at the 20th Stockholm International Film Festival and Kaatje Van Damme won Best Makeup at the 42nd Sitges Film Festival. Mr. Nobody has appeared on many critics top ten lists of 2010 and is frequently considered to be one of the greatest films of the year. Kurt Halfyard, a film critic for Twitch Film, listed Van Dormael's film among the best science fiction films of the 21st century. The American Film Institute listed Mr. Nobody as one of the best European films of 2010.
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