Giving Oscar season a pre-holidays kick off, The 25th annual Gotham Independent Film Awards happened tonight, with the ensemble drama Spotlight and the made-on-a-literal dime indie Tangerine taking home the most awards.
Spotlight, chronicling the Boston Globe’s groundbreaking investigation that uncovered systemic sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, won three. Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer won best screenplay, and the film also grabbed Best feature. A special jury prize for ensemble cast was also presented to Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d’Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, and Billy Crudup, with Keaton and Ruffalo speaking for the assembled cast, both paying tribute to the journalists depicted in the film.
Tangerine, which follows trans people and sex workers on the fringes of society, and was filmed using iPhones, won twice. Trans actress Mya Taylor took home the Breakthrough Actor award, and the film itself won the Audience Award.
No other nominee won more than once, not unexpected in a year full of strong contenders. The Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow up to his 2012 docu The Act Of Killing, which examines the lingering cultural trauma from the notorious Indonesian killings of 1965–66. won for Best Documentary. Bel Powley surprised obervers, beating out heavy favorites Lily Tomlin and Cate Blanchett to take home Best Actress for her turn as Minnie Goetze in Diary of a Teenage Girl. Paul Dano won Best Actor for portraying Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy. Meanwhile, Jonas Carpigano won Breakthrough Director for Mediterranea.
The Gotham Awards unveiled several new honors tonight as well. Breakthrough Series – Short Form, honoring online programming, went to the British comedic short series Shugs & Fats. The Gothams also honored longform television, giving Breakthrough Series – Long Form to USA Networks critically acclaimed Mr. Robot the price. Meanwhile, Ellen Cotter of Angelika Film Center Theaters took home the first Gotham Appreciation Award for her theater chains work promoting independent film.
Four tribute awards were also handed out, with Spotlight and Mr. Robot producer Steve Golin of Anonymous content, Carol director Todd Haynes, as well as Helen Mirren and Robert Redford on hand to accept their honors. Mirren, introduced with a charming, somewhat profane speech by Robert Di Niro accepted with profanity of her own, riffing off of Di Niro’s introduction and drawing big laughs, then becoming more serious when she decried what she called “chickensh*t political censorship,” and used her time to call attention to the light of condemned Saudi Poet Ashraf Fayadh. Redford, meanwhile, deeply humbled, recounted his long career and the time he was reminded he isn’t as special as he thinks.
Broadcast live on the web from Cipriani Wall Street in downtown Manhattan. Broad City duo Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer hosted, and while their set at times felt a bit like it had been put together the night before, they were as charming as ever, and fit well with the loose, f-bomb heavy atmosphere that benefitted from being online where TV censors can’t panic over language. The show felt a little overlong at nearly 3 hours long, including an intermission for dinner, but was overall a lively, salty bit of entertainment. More like this, please.
Last year’s ceremony proved a decent prognosticator of Oscar glory in several categories, with Birdman winning for Best Feature, the Snowden documentary Citizenfour taking home the Best Documentary award, and Julianne Moore winning Best Actress for her role in Still Alice. In addition, Boyhood won the audience award. We’ll see if the same holds true in 2016 for Spotlight.