When Moonlight historically won the Best picture statuette at last year’s Academy Awards, it was celebrated for a number of reasons, one of which was being the first independent film to claim the coveted title. Moonlight’s win was predicted a few months prior when it won Best Feature at the 2016 Gotham Awards, the awards ceremony celebrating the best of independent cinema in a given year. The past three Best Picture winners have been correctly predicted by the IFP Gotham Awards jury. In a superb year of independent cinema, where does that leave the race this year?
The ceremony took place in Cipriani in New York on November 27 and was hosted by director John Cameron Mitchell. The trophies were widely-distributed, which makes it even more difficult to predict what might be coming, but gives us quite a bit to talk about as well.
The night’s top prize — the Best Feature award — went to Luca Guadagnino’s summer gay romance Call Me By Your Name starring the omnipresent Timothée Chalamet (who also walked away with the Breakthrough Actor trophy) and Armie Hammer. The film opened this weekend to strong critical acclaim. With three hits in a row, could Gotham be looking at a 4-year winning streak? It’s hard to tell. Only yesterday, Lady Bird became the best-rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, and Get Out‘s award run will be nothing short of brilliant, with overwhelmingly positive reception and hundreds of millions in profit. Elsewhere, the Summer’s other breakout hit, Dunkirk — projected by many to be this year’s grand champion — is being re-released, which could possibly upset the race in its favour.
In addition to a nod to Mary J. Blige’s acting, Dee Rees’s Mudbound was honoured with the Special Jury Award for Ensemble Performance, adding to what seems to be an unstoppable campaign for the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards (SAG) for Ensemble Performance. This particular SAG has long been considered a strong precursor for the Best Picture Oscar (6 out of the last 10 winners have been correct — impressive, bearing in mind this is strictly for acting).
Get Out walked away with the most awards of the night with three, and Call Me By Your Name trailed closely behind at two. Lady Bird and The Disaster Artist won one each for lead performances from Saoirse Ronan and James Franco, respectively. While Ronan is slowly looking to be the one to beat (though the Best Actress race is tougher than ever this year), Franco might have a harder time following up his Best Actor win with the premiere of Darkest Hour, boasting what is looking to be a career-best for veteran Gary Oldman.
For the full list of winners and nominees (for films and series), click here.