A24 had a big night at the 28th annual IFP Gotham Awards, which kicked off awards season Monday night in New York City.
The company, which has been behind major award winners like “Moonlight” and “Ladybird,” nabbed five awards at the show, held at Cipriani Wall Street, which marks the first show during awards season on the road to the Oscars.
Sony Pictures Classics western drama “The Rider” topped the night, winning the biggest prize, best feature.
The Gotham Awards have gained prominence over the past few years by honoring films that went on to win Academy Awards from “Birdman” to “Spotlight” to “Get Out” and “Moonlight.”
“First Reformed” and “Eighth Grade,” both hailing from A24, won two awards each on Monday night — Ethan Hawke for best actor and Paul Schrader for best screenplay, while “Eighth Grade’s” Elsie Fisher walked away with the breakthrough actor award, and Bo Burnham won breakthrough director. Toni Collette won best actress for A24’s “Hereditary.”
This year, Rachel Weisz, Willem Dafoe, Paul Greengrass, and Jon Kamen all received the Gotham Awards’ 2018 tributes. Sandra Lee was honored with the “Made in NY” award, and she opened up the night with an emotional plea about early cancer detection.
“I was given a privilege, and that privilege was cancer, because I get to speak on behalf of cancer patients,” Lee said while accepting her honor, speaking on the significance of early detection, which is the subject matter of her HBO documentary, “Rx: Early Detection, A Cancer Journey with Sandra Lee,” a documentary that follows Lee on her battle with breast cancer.
Weisz, who was honored with the actress tribute this year, was presented by Michael Sheen, who said he was scared of Weisz, thanks to her passionate and versatile acting ability. During her acceptance speech, Weisz thanked IFP for their dedication to the independent film industry.
“Independent films are often really, really hard to get made,” Weisz said, mentioning that “The Favourite” took 20 years to make. “The films are bold and dangerous and they’re also really fragile…that’s why I’m proud to get this award from IFP because for 40 years, they’ve been helping independent filmmakers.”
Later in the night, introduced by Cynthia Nixon, Weisz accepted the jury award for ensemble performance on behalf of her cast mates in “The Favourite,” Olivia Colman and Emma Stone — who both could not be in attendance at the Gotham Awards, so Weisz brought paper cut-outs of her co-stars, naturally.
When nominee Regina Hall introduced the breakthrough actor category — which ultimately went to 15-year-old Fisher — Hall noted that all five of the nominees were young, diverse women. “Might there be some sort of phrase we can take from that? Perhaps, ‘the future is female?'” she quipped.
Fisher won over the room, delivering her speech through happy tears, saying, “I’m pretty sure there was a glitch in the system or something because all the nominees are incredible women and actresses…Acting was something I was going to stop before ‘Eighth Grade’…Me from two years ago would be really proud of me right now, and I’m really thankful for that.”
Burnham weighed in with more praise when winning breakthrough director, saying, “This is really just an award for Elsie Fisher…she made my job very easy. That’s all.”
Oscar winner Barry Jenkins, whose film “If Beale Street Could Talk” was nominated for best feature, presented the award for breakthrough director — a category he was part of in 2008, though he didn’t win. Presenting the award to Burnham, Jenkins dubbed the director “the next Jordan Peele, the next Ryan Coogler.”
Willem Dafoe, who is garnering rave reviews for his latest critically-acclaimed role in Julian Schnabel’s “At Eternity’s Gate,” in which he plays Vincent Van Gogh, was presented with the actor tribute honor. “A little bird told me that I have made over 100 films. That’s a lot,” Dafoe said. “But really, I feel like I’m just starting, or I’m not half done from.”
While a few presenters and nominees lightly touched on the societal issues, the night was mostly focused strictly on independent film. But Hawke got political at the podium, taking the chance to commend the arts, during divisive times.
“We are living in a time void of political and spiritual leadership and in that kind of time period, a heavy burden falls to the arts…because the people in this room and elsewhere can go where we can transcend minds and open hearts that are normally closed,” Hawke said. “As members of the artistic community, we are the great generators of empathy and compassion and we have to do our work. We live in a time when racial equality is being criminally disregarded, and it’s a really problem and it’s unacceptable. My mom always said to be, you don’t have to protect that truth — you have to live in the truth and it will protect you.”
The full winners list is below:
“The Favourite” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
“First Reformed” (A24)
“If Beale Street Could Talk” (Annapurna Pictures)
“Madeline’s Madeline” (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
“The Rider” (Sony Pictures Classics) — WINNER
Adam Driver in “BlacKkKlansman” (Focus Features)
Ben Foster in “Leave No Trace” (Bleecker Street)
Richard E. Grant in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Ethan Hawke in “First Reformed” (A24) — WINNER
Lakeith Stanfield in “Sorry to Bother You” (Annapurna Pictures)
Glenn Close in “The Wife” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Toni Collette in “Hereditary” (A24) — WINNER
Kathryn Hahn in “Private Life” (Netflix)
Regina Hall in “Support the Girls” (Magnolia Pictures)
Michelle Pfeiffer in “Where is Kyra?” (Paladin and Great Point Media)
Yalitza Aparicio in “Roma” (Netflix)
Elsie Fisher in “Eighth Grade” (A24) — WINNER
Helena Howard in “Madeline’s Madeline” (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
KiKi Layne in “If Beale Street Could Talk” (Annapurna Pictures)
Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie in “Leave No Trace” (Bleecker Street)
Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Ari Aster for “Hereditary” (A24)
Bo Burnham for “Eighth Grade” (A24) — WINNER
Jennifer Fox for “The Tale” (HBO)
Crystal Moselle for “Skate Kitchen” (Magnolia Pictures)
Boots Riley for “Sorry to Bother You” (Annapurna Pictures)
Breakthrough Series – Long Form
“Alias Grace,” (Netflix)
“The End of the F***ing World,” (Netflix)
“Killing Eve” (BBC America) — WINNER
“Pose” (FX Networks)
“Sharp Objects,” (HBO)
Breakthrough Series – Short Form
“195 Lewis” — WINNER
“The F Word”
“She’s the Ticket”
“The Favourite,” Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
“First Reformed,” Paul Schrader (A24) – WINNER
“Private Life,” Tamara Jenkins (Netflix)
“Support the Girls,” Andrew Bujalski (Magnolia Pictures)
“Thoroughbreds,” Cory Finley (Focus Features)
“Bisbee ‘17” (4th Row Films)
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening” (The Cinema Guild) — WINNER
“Minding the Gap” (Hulu & Magnolia Pictures)
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (Focus Features)
Jury Award for Ensemble Performance
Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman and Emma Stone in “The Favourite” — WINNER
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” — WINNER