The Gotham Awards named Netflix’s The Lost Daughter its Best Feature during a Monday night ceremony in lower Manhattan honoring the best independent films of 2021 with a vaccinated, Covid-tested, in-person fest at its longtime Cipriani Wall Street home. The drama written and directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal swept to a leading four wins overall out of five nominations.
Gyllenhaal won twice individually tonight, for Breakthrough Director and Best Screenplay and Olivia Colman took Outstanding Lead Performance. That was one of two ties for the evening in the event’s first year of gender-neutral acting categories. The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain star Frankie Faison also won for outstanding lead, while on the TV side both Thuso Mbedu for The Underground Railroad and Ethan Hawke for The Good Lord Bird had their names called for Outstanding Performance in a New Series.
In other movie awards handed out tonight, Emilia Jones took the Breakthrough Performer award for her starring role in Apple’s CODA, which also scored the Outstanding Supporting Performance trophy tonight for Troy Kotsur. They mark the first two major awards of the season for the pic Apple Studios acquired back in January at the Sundance Film Festival for an eye-popping $25 million. Jones plays the music conservatory-bound daughter of a fishing family whose parents and brother are deaf although she is not. “Sian took a chance on me,” she said, referring director Sian Heder. “I didn’t know sign language, I hadn’t really sung before and I never fished.”
In the nonfiction categories, Denmark’s Oscar entry, the animated Flee, won for Best Documentary, while PBS’ Philly D.A. from Topic and Independent Lens won a new award, for Breakthrough Nonfiction Series. Drive My Car, the Cannes screenplay winner and Japan’s submission to the International Feature Oscar race, won Best International Film.
Lost Daughter along with Rebecca Hall’s Passing, also from Netflix, swept the top nominations, which were announced last month in 12 categories.
Gyllenhaal praised Netflix for the deep-pocketed streamer’s support. “It’s expensive to make movies. Movies cost a lot of money. you can write them, but someone’s got to make them. So then the question becomes, what is valuable?” she said. “Is women telling stories that resonate between us valuable? And is it high art? And is it appealing to men? To see women that actually look like their wives or their sisters or their mothers up on screen? I think the lineup of films being celebrated here tonight says ‘Yeah, it f-ckin’ is.’”
Organizer Gotham Film & Media Institute (formerly IFP) was the first to combine Best Actress and Best Actor categories into Outstanding Lead Performance and Outstanding Supporting Performance with double the nominees – to 10, from five.
Hawke, presenting a tribute to Peter Dinklage just after his own win, praised the change. “Directors don’t get recognized by gender. I never understood why actors do,” he said onstage. But some present regretted the reduced ability to spread awards wealth — the number of nominees rose but the number of awards was cut in half. (Theoretically anyway, but as per above the juries didn’t seem to have a problem with two-winner ties.)
In the series TV categories, Netflix’s Squid Game won its first major U.S. award since its record launch on the streamer this fall, taking the honor tonight for Breakthrough Series – Long Format (over 40 minutes).
“When I wrote this script 12 years ago, in 2009, I did my best but no one liked it — they said it was too violent, absurd, weird,” Squid Game‘s creator Huwang Dong-hyuk said onstage accepting the trophy. Once it aired, he said, “it took less than 12 days to become the No. 1 show on the planet.”
FX on Hulu’s Reservation Dogs took the prize for Breakthrough Series – Short Format (under 40 minutes).
The show also recognized an array of independent talent with honorary awards including Magnolia Pictures’ Eamonn Bowles, Industry Tribute; Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), the Directors Tribute; Netflix’s The Harder They Fall cast, Ensemble Tribute; Dinklage (Cyrano) and Kristen Stewart (Spencer), Performer Tributes; late filmmaker/activist Kathleen Collins, inaugural Gotham Icon Award; and The Actors Fund, the Gotham Impact Salute.
The tributes took the ceremony to a running time of well over three hours but added some star wattage. Julianne Moore and Pablo Larraín introduced Stewart (the Spencer director calling her “a f-cking miracle of cinema); Mark Ruffalo gave a moving tribute Campion; and Alex Gibney honored Bowles.
The Gothams can be an industry bellwether coming early in awards season and following fall festival buzz. Last year’s Best Feature Gotham went to Nomadland, which went on to win the Oscar. (Other winners at the Gothams last year included Riz Ahmed as best actor for Sound of Metal and Nicole Beharie as best actress for Miss Juneteenth.)
Films released from March 1-December 31, 2021 and TV series from October 1, 2020-September 30, 2021 were eligible for this year’s 31st edition. Budgets are capped at $35 million, which eliminated some interesting indies from contention including Tick..tick…boom!, The French Dispatch and The Tragedy of Macbeth.
Here’s the complete winners list:
GOTHAM AWARDS 2021 WINNERS
The Lost Daughter
Maggie Gyllenhaal, director; Osnat Handelsman Keren, Talia Kleinhendler, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Charles Dorfman, producers (Netflix)
Outstanding Lead Performance
Frankie Faison in The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain (Gravitas Ventures)
Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter (Netflix)
Outstanding Supporting Performance
Troy Kotsur in CODA (Apple)
Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Maggie Gyllenhaal for The Lost Daughter (Netflix)
Breakthrough Series (over 40 minutes)
Kim Ji-yeon, Hwang Dong-hyu, executive producers (Netflix)
Breakthrough Series (under 40 minutes)
Sterlin Harjo, Taika Waititi, creators; Taika Waititi, Sterlin Harjo, Garrett Basch, executive producers (FX)
Breakthrough Nonfiction Series
Ted Passon, Yoni Brook, Nicole Salazar, creators; Dawn Porter, Sally Jo Fifer, Lois Vossen, Ryan Chanatry, Gena Konstantinakos, Jeff Seelbach, Patty Quillin, executive producers (Topic, Independent Lens, PBS)
Outstanding Performance in a New Series
Thuso Mbedu in The Underground Railroad (Amazon Studios)
Ethan Hawke in The Good Lord Bird (Showtime)
Best Documentary Feature
Jonas Poher Rasmussen, director; Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen, Charlotte De La Gournerie, producers (Neon)
Best International Feature
Drive My Car
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, director; Teruhisa Yamamoto, producer (Sideshow and Janus Films)
The Lost Daughter
Maggie Gyllenhaal (Netflix)
Emilia Jones in CODA (Apple)