With the book closed on Thanksgiving, the Gothams represented one of the film industry’s first dips into the awards season pool. As a light snowstorm hit the city, talent and execs converged on Cipriani Wall Street, with a remarkably compressed schedule ahead (the Oscars are February 9). While the line between Gotham winners and the Academy’s honors is not usually a straight one, the near-sweep by Marriage Story will keep the film in the center of the conversation. (See full winners list below.)
Director Noah Baumbach, making his final trip to the stage of the night, praised his actors. “My special effect is the cast,” he said. “I hide behind them. When I was cutting the movie, I felt like it was not mine anymore. It was theirs. That’s the greatest gift any director can get.”
Awkwafina captured Best Actress for her role in The Farewell. “Holy sh*t,” she began. “I never won anything. I can’t even win an argument in the Instagram comments.” After a flustered start to her speech, she rallied, thanking “grandmas everywhere, for spoiling us, loving us and believing in us.”
A24, the distributor of indie breakout The Farewell, was the only company besides Netflix to win multiple Gothams, taking home a pair.
Adam Driver accepted the Best Actor prize for his co-lead turn in Marriage Story. He thanked Netflix, joking that he would “add to the list of people who’ve been thanking them.” He also saluted Baumbach. “He’s trusted me with four parts,” Driver said. “I hope for 14 more.”
Baumbach also won for Best Screenplay, and Marriage Story won the Audience Award.
While film has long been the focus of the Gothams, two prestige TV shows grabbed top prizes. The Ava DuVernay-directed When They See Us was honored for Breakthrough Series – Longform (meaning longer than 40 minutes per episode). Hulu’s PEN15 got Breakthrough Series – Shortform.
Jane Rosenthal, one of the producers of When They See Us, said it was an honor to get recognized “here in New York, so close to where the injustice in this story happened.” She added thanks to Netflix, the show’s cast and executive producer and director Ava DuVernay, who insisted on changing the title from Central Park Five because “she had the vision to say, ‘No, this is about these men'” awaiting vindication.
The night’s first competitive award, Best Documentary, went to Netflix’s American Factory, whose producers include Participant and Michelle and Barack Obama’s Higher 6Ground.
Co-director Julia Reichert dedicated the win to “people who do the work,” including Cipriani Wall Street staff. “These people, working people, are under so much more pressure, have so much less pay,” she said, “while at the same time, the billionaires are choking the skyline of this city with playthings that are just for them. So, I ask: Is this the world we want to live in? That’s the question our film is asking.”
As usual, the Gothams did not lack star power. Hustlers star Jennifer Lopez presented the Best Actor award. The list of acting nominees also included Adam Sandler for Uncut Gems and Elisabeth Moss for Her Smell. Olivia Wilde was up for the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award, but it went to Laure De Clermont-Tonnerre for The Mustang. The filmmaker said the experience of making her first feature “gave me a lot of joy, a lot of anxiety.” She added, “The toughest thing when you do your first feature film is you never know if you’re going to make it. You move forward blindly.”
The IFP also gave out honorary awards at the ceremony: Laura Dern got the Actress Tribute, Sam Rockwell the Actor Tribute, Ava DuVernay the Directors Tribute and Glen Basner the Industry Tribute. While smoothly handled, the tributes (which took up nearly half of the show’s two-hour running time) did not color outside the lines. Perhaps the liveliest comment came from Dern, who thanked her parents, actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, “who conceived me on the set of a Roger Corman movie — bless them.” Like the rest of the night, the intro and acceptance speeches notably steered clear of political and social issues.
2019 IFP Gotham Awards – Winners
Marriage Story (Netflix)
Marriage Story (Netflix)
The Farewell (A24)
Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, directors; Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert, Julie Parker Benello, producers (Netflix)
Marriage Story – Noah Baumbach
Marriage Story (Netflix)
BINGHAM RAY BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR AWARD
Laure De Clermont-Tonnerre
The Mustang (Focus Features)
BREAKTHROUGH SERIES – SHORT FORM
Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Sam Zvibleman, creators; Anna Konkle, Sam Zvibleman, Debbie Liebling, Gabe Liedman, Marc Provissiero, Brooke Pobjoy, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Becky Sloviter, Shelley Zimmerman, Brin Lukens, Jordan Levin, executive producers (Hulu)
BREAKTHROUGH SERIES – LONG FORM
When They See Us
Ava DuVernay, creator; Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King, Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro, Berry Welsh, Oprah Winfrey, Ava DuVernay, executive producers (Netflix)