The Gotham Awards Welcome Us To Oscar Season

Who's headed for gold this year?

Last night, the first ballots were unofficially cast in the '17 Oscar Season. The IFP Gotham Awards are almost like a primary in an election, a general idea where enthusiasm is headed regarding smaller, non-studio financed films (though not necessarily destined to end up, as the Independent Filmmaker Project is far from a direct signifier of the Academy's tastes). Three of the previous top Gotham winners — MoonlightSpotlight and Birdman — were able to catapult from the venue at Cipriani Wall Street all the way to the Oscars' stage.

Luca Guadagnino's gay coming-of-age tale Call Me By Your Name received Best Feature, but Jordan Peele's Get Out dominated with three wins, for Best Screenplay, Breakthrough Director and the Audience Award. For those who've been clamoring for the social horror movie to be recognized by the Academy, this is the first step in the right direction. 

Timothée Chalamet, the budding star of Call Me By Your Name, collected the trophy for Best Breakthrough Performance, and James Franco won Best Actor for his rather awesome turn as outsider filmmaker Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, while Saoirse Ronan won Best Actress for her lead performance in Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird

The Best Documentary prize went to Strong Island by Yance Ford, which details the unprosecuted fatal shooting of Mr. Ford’s brother decades ago. Dee Rees' WW II-era drama Mudbound (starring Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell and Carey Mulligan), picked up the Best Ensemble statue.

Those are the highlights, but take a gander at the full list of winners here:

Best Feature
Call Me by Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics)

Best Documentary
Strong Island (Netflix)

Best Actor
James Franco in The Disaster Artist (A24)

Best Actress
Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird (A24)

Breakthrough Series – Long Form
Atlanta (FX Networks)

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Jordan Peele for Get Out (Universal Pictures)

Breakthrough Actor
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics)

Breakthrough Series – Short Form
The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes (YouTube)

Best Screenplay
Get Out,  Jordan Peele (Universal Pictures)

Also of note is the reported tone of the ceremony itself, as the event was described as "muted" by the New York Times, and John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) reportedly delivered a jokey political monologue that "tanked" in the room. Beyond giving us an idea of the smaller films that will be competing in a big way come March, the Gotham Awards are also a brief glimpse at the tenor of these upcoming awards show. What's usually a gigantic party, filled with egregious back-patting, is now a somewhat somber affair, as the cloud of an industry-wide sexual abuse scandal hangs over all of Hollywood's gala events. It's gonna be a tough room to play when Seth Meyers introduces the presenters in four months, and rightfully so.