The 2019 Gotham Independent Film Awards arrive at a critical moment in awards season. Predating most of the major awards, they provide a clue into which indies are on the industry’s radar. But more importantly, Monday night’s ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street highlighted a selection of excellent titles — from indie gems such as The Farewell and Waves to mainstream favorites like Hustlers.
Here are a few of the night’s takeaways and high points.
1. Netflix cleaned up
With six wins, four of which were for Marriage Story, Netflix had a stellar night. Marriage Story came away with the Best Feature award, and its writer-director Noah Baumbach also accepted an audience award and the award for best screenplay, tipping his hat to Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos in his speech: “This was my 10th movie. I’ve worked for probably about nine companies who distributed my movies, but it does feel like what I always sort of dreamed of when I started as a filmmaker: that I would have a home and a place. And I want to thank you for that, Ted.”
The film’s star, Adam Driver, also won Best Actor for his performance. Other awards went to Netflix’s American Factory, which won Best Documentary, and Ava DuVernay’s longform series When They See Us about the Central Park 5.
2. Awkwafina wins Best Actress
“Holy shit,” Awkwafina began her acceptance speech after winning Best Actress for The Farewell. “I never win anything. I can’t even win an argument in the Instagram comments.” Awkwafina’s thoughtful performance in The Farewell marks a turning point for the actress after mostly comedic roles, and her performance has been praised by critics. The win bodes well for her chances of scoring an Oscar nomination in the months to come.
3. Bow down to Laura Dern
The recipient of this year’s Actor’s Tribute was Laura Dern, who is busy wrapping up a big year after roles in both Marriage Story and Little Women — the directors of which, Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, happen to be a couple. As Baumbach and Gerwig co-presented Dern with the award, the directors swapped speeches so that, Gerwig said, Dern would be too confused to know which tribute was better. As an endearing gimmick, the director couple also donned custom Laura Dern sweatshirts for the occasion.