by Dade Hayes – Deadline Hollywood
The 28th annual Gotham Awards offered a series of surprises as the annual kickoff to awards season honored dark horse The Rider as Best Feature, its only win of the night. First Reformed and Eighth Grade each took a pair of competitive awards.
The Favourite had ample presence, taking home a previously announced ensemble acting award and having star Rachel Weisz honored with a career acting tribute. But the Fox Searchlight release did not win in three other competitive categories, Best Feature, Best Screenplay and Audience Award.
Best Actress, in another surprise, went to Toni Collette for horror hit Hereditary.
In addition to the nine competitive categories, the ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street included several non-competitive salutes. In addition to Weisz, recipients included Willem Dafoe (Actor Tribute), Paul Greengrass (Directors Tribute) and producer Jon Kamen (Industry Tribute). Sandra Lee, who made a short film for HBO and has won two Emmys as a TV host, received the “Made in NY” Award from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment to start the show.
In recent years, the show has become more predictive of Oscar fortunes, with Get Out, Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird each bringing home Gothams and then earning Oscar love.
Here is how it all went down at Cipriani Wall Street, on a wet and soggy New York night:
7:08PM PT: WINNER: Best Feature – The Rider
The night ended with a stunner, as the Sony Classics title directed by Chloé Zhao took top honors.
Zhao was a no-show (one of several tonight). In her stead, producer Bert Hamelinck took the stage. “Sorry about this,” he began. “I am a Belgian, speaking for a Chinese filmmaker. But I am doing my best.”
6:57PM PT: WINNER: Best Actor – Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Hawke’s win makes it a double for First Reformed, after Paul Schrader’s screenplay was honored earlier. He began his speech by praising Schrader, who he said has “blazed a trail and lifted this whole room up year after year after year.”
The actor also broke the night’s political silence, never mentioning the name of the current president but offering some fiery words about the need to address the charged climate.
“We are living in a time when there’s a void of political and spiritual leadership,” he said. “In that kind of time period, a heavy burden falls upon the arts. … We must not give in to tribal thinking … we are the great generators of empathy and compassion.”
6:48PM PT: WINNER: Best Actress – Toni Collette, Hereditary
Collette is not in New York tonight. Instead, Hereditary director Ari Aster took the stage. “I pushed Toni down the stairs,” he deadpanned, before offering the real explanation for her absence, that she is in production on a film. “I want to thank her, not only because she’s incredible in the film but her participation in it got it made.”
6:46PM PT: Willem Dafoe offers some deeply felt words after an affecting introduction by quintessential New York City artist Laurie Anderson, who he called “the most awake person I know.” At one point, Dafoe teared up when praising filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci, who died Sunday. “I knew him a little bit. He was not only influential for other filmmakers but he was very generous to other filmmakers. It’s important to remember when people pass.”
He also said it meant a lot to be getting his tribute honor in New York. “It is and will forever be my home,” he said, adding that he believes “in a director-driven cinema and in independent film.”
6:28PM PT: WINNER: Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award – Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade
Burnham breezed through his speech in an ingratiating 20 seconds. “This is another award for Elsie Fisher, honestly,” he said. “My job was to point the camera at her and tell her to be incredible and she would be incredible.” He closed with: “I want to say thank you to my parents, who are watching on livestream and keep texting me. Go to bed! Thank you.”
6:15PM PT: WINNER: Breakthrough Series (Long Form) – Killing Eve
The BBC America breakout starring Sandra Oh in a menacing career-milestone turn beat out HBO’s Sharp Objects and three others.
Because the Gothams are still primarily a film gathering, though, the presenter flippantly observed, “Nobody is here from the movie” and promised to messenger the statuette.
Moments before Killing Eve, Breakthrough Series (Short Form) went to 195 Lewis.
6:08 PM PT: WINNER: Audience Award – Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
“To say this is a surprise is an extreme understatement,” said Morgan Neville, the director of the breakout documentary.
“I’m just happy that people are showing up to see them,” he added. “A year ago, it seemed like you couldn’t pay people to go see documentaries in theatres.”
6:05 PM PT: Radical Media’s Kamen evoked his local roots in accepting his career tribute.
“I’m still just little Johnny Kamen. I’m just a kid from Queens being given this award,” he said. “It’s kind of extraordinary to think that I am here.”
He added, “Anybody who has had any amount of time working at Radical knows that at the end of the day we’re really a family. … We really care.”
5:55 PM PT: WINNER: Breakthrough Actor Award: Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
“You can probably see — I am shaking,” she said with genuine surprise. “I am so thankful to be up here. Acting is something I was considering quitting. …. Me from 2 years ago would be really proud of me right now and I’m really thankful for that.”
5:47 PM PT: Weisz, who stars in The Favourite, offered a tribute to independent filmmakers in a characteristically elegant, succinct speech accepting her tribute award.
“They show our humanity in all our messiness and all our glory,” she said. “Independent films are very, very difficult to get made.” The Favourite, for example, took 20 years to reach the screen, she said.
Looking down from the stage, Weisz spotted Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos. “He’s being served filet mignon as I speak, which is very appropriate,” she laughed.
5:38 PM PT: WINNER: Best Screenplay, Paul Schrader, First Reformed
Schrader’s First Reformed, one of the earliest releases of 2018 to gain critical attention, takes Best Screenplay.
5:30 PM PT: WINNER: Best Documentary, Hale County This Morning, This Evening
An emotional evocation of the South and the social construction of race. In accepting the award, director RaMell Ross gave nods to fellow nominees, which included some more conspicuous titles like Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
“When someone is being represented by someone else, you’re putting a costume on them,” Ross said, reflecting on his film. “So let’s let black folks choose their own clothes.”
Here is the complete list of winners:
Chloé Zhao, director; Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Mollye Asher, Chloé Zhao, producers (Sony Pictures Classics)
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Morgan Neville, director; Morgan Neville, Caryn Capotosto, Nicholas Ma, producers (Focus Features)
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
RaMell Ross, director; RaMell Ross, Joslyn Barnes, Su Kim, producers (The Cinema Guild)
BINGHAM RAY BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR AWARD
Bo Burnham for Eighth Grade (A24)
First Reformed, Paul Schrader (A24)
Ethan Hawke in First Reformed (A24)
Toni Collette in Hereditary (A24)
Elsie Fisher in Eighth Grade (A24)
BREAKTHROUGH SERIES – LONG FORM
Killing Eve, Sally Woodward Gentle, Lee Morris, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, executive producers (BBC America)
BREAKTHROUGH SERIES – SHORT FORM
195 Lewis, Chanelle Aponte Pearson and Rae Leone Allen, creators