Gotham Awards winners: Hollywood stars Julianne Moore, Michael Keaton – plus whistleblower and political refugee Edward Snowden
The Gotham Awards, the more modest, New York City-based version of the Los Angeles-based Spirit Awards, announced its 2014 winners at a ceremony held on Dec. 1 at Cipriani Wall Street. (See further below the full list of the Gotham Awards’ winners and nominees.)
The Best Film of the year was Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), an ensemble piece revolving around a down-and-out actor – best know for having played the superhero Birdman on U.S. TV – as he struggles to stage a Broadway play.
Birdman also earned Michael Keaton – best known as the star of several Batman movies of the late 1980s and early 1990s – the Gotham Awards’ second Best Actor Award. (Matthew McConaughey won the introductory Best Actor Award last year, for Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas Buyers Club.)
The Best Actress winner was another Hollywood star, Julianne Moore, for her performance as a woman in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease in Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s Sill Alice. (Last year’s winner was an up-and-coming Hollywood star, Brie Larson, for Short Term 12.)
Besides Michael Keaton, Birdman features Naomi Watts, Emma Stone, Amy Ryan, Andrea Riseborough, Edward Norton, and Zach Galifianakis. The Still Alice cast includes Kate Bosworth, Kristen Stewart, Hunter Parrish, and Alec Baldwin.
‘Citizenfour’: Erosion of civil liberties
The highlight among the 2014 winners, however, were not the Hollywood stars or the potential Best Picture Academy Award winner, but the Gotham Awards’ choice for Best Documentary: Laura Poitras’ controversial and extremely well-received Citizenfour, about the United States’ National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, who revealed the NSA’s illegal wiretapping practices and who is now a political refugee in Russia.
In The Guardian, Mark Kermode referred to Citizenfour as “the most chilling thriller of the year,” while on the BBC, Owen Gleiberman called it “chillingly dramatic, a Bourne-like motif of intrigue that has the effect of making us realize that no, this is not just a movie.”
Steven Soderbergh executive-produced Citizenfour.
Ana Lily Amirpour, Tessa Thompson
As has been usually the case throughout the years, little-known talent took home the (gender-neutral) Breakthrough Director and Breakthrough Actor awards. The former went to Ana Lily Amirpour for A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, tagged as “the first Iranian vampire Western” (the Farsi-language film co-produced by Elijah Wood is actually an American release); the latter went to Tessa Thompson for playing a biracial film major at a mostly white Ivy League university in Dear White People.
The Audience Award went to Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, shot in “real time” (as in, throughout Ellar Coltrane’s boyhood), while actress Tilda Swinton, Foxcatcher and Capote filmmaker Bennett Miller, and producer Ted Sarandos (The Ridiculous 6) received the 2014 Gotham Awards’ tributes.
The Spotlight on Women Filmmakers’ “Live the Dream” Grant was handed to Chloé Zhao for Songs My Brothers Taught Me.
Gotham Awards: Winners & nominations
* Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).
Alejandro González Iñárritu, director; Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan, James W. Skotchdopole, producers (Fox Searchlight Pictures).
Richard Linklater, director; Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland, Jonathan Sehring, John Sloss, producers (IFC Films).
The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Wes Anderson, director; Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson, producers (Fox Searchlight Pictures).
Love Is Strange.
Ira Sachs, director; Lucas Joaquin, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Ira Sachs, Jayne Baron Sherman, producers (Sony Pictures Classics).
Under the Skin.
Jonathan Glazer, director; Nick Wechsler, James Wilson, producers (A24 Films).
Patricia Arquette in Boyhood (IFC Films).
Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Beyond the Lights (Relativity Media).
* Julianne Moore in Still Alice (Sony Pictures Classics).
Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin (A24 Films).
Mia Wasikowska in Tracks (The Weinstein Company).
Bill Hader in The Skeleton Twins (Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions).
Ethan Hawke in Boyhood (IFC Films).
Oscar Isaac in A Most Violent Year (A24 Films).
* Michael Keaton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Fox Searchlight Pictures).
Miles Teller in Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics).
In addition to an ensemble Best Actor Award going to Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, and Channing Tatum for Foxcatcher (Sony Pictures Classics).
Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
* Ana Lily Amirpour for A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Kino Lorber).
James Ward Byrkit for Coherence (Oscilloscope Laboratories).
Dan Gilroy for Nightcrawler (Open Road Films).
Eliza Hittman for It Felt Like Love (Variance Films).
Justin Simien for Dear White People (Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions).
Riz Ahmed in Nightcrawler (Open Road Films).
Macon Blair in Blue Ruin (RADiUS).
Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood (IFC Films).
Joey King in Wish I Was Here (Focus Features).
Jenny Slate in Obvious Child (A24 Films).
* Tessa Thompson in Dear White People (Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions).
Robert Greene, director; Douglas Tirola, Susan Bedusa, Robert Greene, producers (The Cinema Guild).
Laura Poitras, director; Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky, producers (RADiUS, Participant Media, and HBO Documentary Films).
Steve James, director; Zak Piper, Steve James, Garrett Basch, producers (Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films).
Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez, directors; Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel, producers (The Cinema Guild).
Point and Shoot.
Marshall Curry, director; Marshall Curry, Elizabeth Martin, Matthew Van Dyke, producers (The Orchard and American Documentary / POV).
Spotlight on Women Filmmakers ‘Live the Dream’ Grant
Garrett Bradley, director, Below Dreams.
Claire Carré, director, Embers.
* Chloé Zhao, director, Songs My Brothers Taught Me.
Gotham Awards website.
Image of Edward Snowden in the Gotham Awards’ Best Documentary winner Citizenfour: HBO.
Image of Michael Keaton in the Gotham Awards’ Best Film winner Birdman: Fox Searchlight Pictures.