Mr. Turner

This article is about the film. For people with this surname, see Turner (surname). For other uses, see Turner (disambiguation).
Mr. Turner

Theatrical film poster
Directed by Mike Leigh
Produced by Georgina Lowe
Written by Mike Leigh
Music by Gary Yershon
Cinematography Dick Pope
Edited by Jon Gregory
Distributed by Entertainment One[1]
Release dates
  • 15 May 2014 (2014-05-15) (Cannes[2])
  • 31 October 2014 (2014-10-31) (United Kingdom)
Running time
150 minutes[3]
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Germany
Language English
Budget £8.4 million[4]
Box office $17.8 million[5]

Mr. Turner is a 2014 internationally co-produced biographical drama film on the last twenty-five years of the life and career of painter J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851). Written and directed by Mike Leigh, the film stars Timothy Spall in the title role with Dorothy Atkinson, Paul Jesson, Marion Bailey, Lesley Manville, and Martin Savage. It premiered in competition for the Palme d'Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival,[6] where Spall won the award for Best Actor[7] and cinematographer Dick Pope received a special jury prize for the film's cinematography.[8]

The film was critically acclaimed and received four nominations each at the 87th Academy Awards and 68th British Academy Film Awards.

Describing Turner as "a great artist: a radical, revolutionary painter", writer/director Leigh explained, "I felt there was scope for a film examining the tension between this very mortal, flawed individual, and the epic work, the spiritual way he had of distilling the world".[9]


A look at the last quarter century of the great British painter J. M. W. Turner. Profoundly affected by the death of his esteemed father, loved by his housekeeper, Hannah Danby, whom he takes for granted and occasionally exploits sexually, he forms a close and loving relationship with a seaside landlady with whom he eventually lives incognito in Chelsea, where he dies.

Throughout all this, Turner travels, paints, stays with the country aristocracy, visits a brothel, is a popular if anarchic member of the Royal Academy of Arts, has himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he can paint a snowstorm, and is both celebrated and reviled by the public and by royalty.[10]



Mr. Turner had its premiere at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival,[13] where it competed for the Palme d'Or, with Timothy Spall winning the Best Actor award and cinematographer Dick Pope winning the Vulcan Award. Entertainment One released the film in the United Kingdom on 31 October 2014. Sony Pictures Classics handled the United States distribution, with a release date of 19 December 2014. It was screened in the Special Presentations section of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.[14]


The film was leaked by the hacker group "Guardians of Peace" onto peer-to-peer file sharing websites on 27 November, more than three weeks ahead of its intended theatrical release, as part of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack. Along with it came Fury and three other at-the-time unreleased Sony Pictures films (Annie, Still Alice and To Write Love on Her Arms).[15] Within three days of the initial leak, Mr. Turner had been downloaded by an estimated 63,379 unique IPs.[15]

Critical reception

Mr. Turner has received praise from critics. The performance of Timothy Spall was lauded, along with Gary Yershon's film score and Dick Pope's cinematography. It has a "Certified Fresh" score of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 183 critic reviews. The "Critics' Consensus" states, "Led by a masterful performance from Timothy Spall and brilliantly directed by Mike Leigh, Mr. Turner is a superior Hollywood biopic."[16] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 94 out of 100 based on 44 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[17]

Critic Katie Kilkenny in The Atlantic called it "a gorgeous, important film".[18] Observer critic Mark Kermode described the film as a "portrait of a man wrestling light with his hands as if it were a physical element: tangible, malleable, corporeal".[19] Slate reviewer Dana Stevens wrote, "Writing about Mr. Turner a few weeks after seeing it, I feel a craving to be again immersed in its world, which is rich with colors, textures, and, it sometimes almost seems, smells".[20]

The consonance between the film and its subject was addressed by Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate Galleries in England: “Mike Leigh and Timothy Spall’s great achievement is showing us how the artist approached the physical business of painting. But they also convey the spirit of a man whose reputation as a curmudgeon is unwarranted, given his passionate interest in people and the world around him. There is a great humanitarian streak in Turner and Mike Leigh has found a way of capturing this on film, as he has done so often before.”[21]


Mr. Turner was filmed in several locations around the UK. Although Margate wasn't actually used to represent Turner's Margate, the production visited Kent to shoot a couple of scenes. HMS Gannet in The Historic Dockyard Chatham was used in the scene where Turner has himself strapped to the mast of a sailing ship during a storm. Stangate Creek doubled as the Thames when Turner and his friends are rowed along Thames and discuss the HMS Victory, they then toast the HMS Temeraire.[22]


List of awards and nominations
Award / Film Festival Category Recipient(s) Result
87th Academy Awards[23] Best Cinematography Dick Pope Nominated
Best Costume Design Jacqueline Durran Nominated
Best Original Score Gary Yershon Nominated
Best Production Design Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts Nominated
ASC Award[24] Theatrical Motion Picture Dick Pope Nominated
23rd Britannia Awards[25] Excellence in Directing Mike Leigh Won
68th British Academy Film Awards[26] Best Cinematography Dick Pope Nominated
Best Production Design Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts Nominated
Best Costume Design Jacqueline Durran Nominated
Best Makeup & Hair Christine Blundell, Lesa Warrener Nominated
17th British Independent Film Awards[27] Best British Independent Film Mr. Turner Nominated
Best Director Mike Leigh Nominated
Best Actor Timothy Spall Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Dorothy Atkinson Nominated
Best Technical Achievement Dick Pope Nominated
67th Cannes Film Festival[28] Best Actor Timothy Spall Won
Vulcan Award Dick Pope Won
Palme d'Or Mike Leigh Nominated
34th Hawaii International Film Festival[29] EuroCinema Hawai'i Award for Best Film Mr. Turner Won
London Film Critics' Circle[30] Film of the Year Mr. Turner Nominated
British Film of the Year Mr. Turner Nominated
Actor of the Year Timothy Spall Nominated
Supporting Actress of the Year Marion Bailey Nominated
British Actor of the Year Timothy Spall Won
Director of the Year Mike Leigh Nominated
Technical Achievement Award Dick Pope Nominated
86th National Board of Review Awards[31] Top 10 Independent Films Mr. Turner Won
49th National Society of Film Critics Awards[32] Best Actor Timothy Spall Won
80th New York Film Critics Circle Awards[33] Best Actor Timothy Spall Won


  1. "Mr. Turner".
  2. Foundas, Scott (15 May 2014). "Cannes Film Review: 'Mr. Turner'". Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  3. "MR. TURNER (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 24 July 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  4. "Timothy Spall learnt how to paint for Turner biopic - Daily Mail Online". Mail Online.
  5. "Mr. Turner (2014) - Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  6. "2014 Official Selection". Cannes. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  7. "Awards 2014 : Competition". Cannes. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  8. "London Film School celebrate Cannes win". 29 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  9. Walsh, David (18 September 2012). "Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 1: Something different in filmmaking". ICFI. World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  10. CineVue. "Cannes 2014: 'Mr. Turner' preview". CineVue - Award-winning UK film site.
  11. Ben Child (23 October 2012). "Timothy Spall to play JMW Turner in Mike Leigh biopic". The Guardian. London.
  12. Short documentary film: The Many Colours of Mr. Turner. Narrated by: Mike Leigh. Producer: Special Treats Productions.
  13. "Cannes Film Festival: Official Selection Lineup Announced - Variety". Variety. April 17, 2014.
  14. "Toronto Film Festival Lineup". Variety. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  15. 1 2 "Sony's New Movies Leak Online Following Hack Attack". Variety. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  16. "Mr. Turner". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  17. "Mr. Turner Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  18. Kilkenny, Katie (December 24, 2014). "Mr. Turner Turns a Man Into a Myth, Beautifully". The Atlantic. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  19. Kermode, Mark (November 2, 2014). "Mr Turner review – Mike Leigh shines a brilliant new light on the great master". The Observer. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  20. Stevens, Dana (December 18, 2014). "Mr. Turner". Slate. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  21. Serota is quoted in Gilbey, Ryan (January 16, 2015). "The Baftas vs Mike Leigh: why is our greatest auteur continually snubbed?". The Guardian.
  22. Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Mr Turner Article".
  23. "2015 Oscars Nominees 87th Academy Awards Nominations". 15 January 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  24. "ASC Awards Nominees: 'Birdman', 'Unbroken', 'Mr Turner' On Cinematographers List". 7 January 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  25. "The Jaguar Britannia Awards 2014". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  26. "BAFTA Nominations: 'Grand Budapest Hotel' Leads With 11 – Full List". January 8, 2015. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  27. "British Independent Film Awards Nominations 2014!". British Independent Film Awards. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  28. "Cannes:"Winter Sleep" Takes The Palme D'Or; Festival Award Winners Announced". Penske Business Media, LLC. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  29. "Hawaii International Film Festival". 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  30. "Mr. Turner leads London Critics nominations". December 16, 2014. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  31. "2014 Award Winners". 2 December 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  32. "2014 Awards". 3 January 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  33. "2014 Awards". 1 December 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2014.

External links

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