A Big Apple Night! Robert Hall Winery Hosts Celebrity-Studded 30th Gotham Awards Monday 11 January!
New York City showed its redoubtable “can-do” spirit tonight at the 30th Gotham Awards at Cipriani Wall Street. Robert Hall Winery returned for its third year as wine sponsor.
In a remarkable, first-time ever hybrid of live and virtual presentation, presenters and honorees in attendance sat at tiny, socially distanced tables and mingled cautiously but enthusiastically between trips to the podium. Each table had its own service. Given the reasonable level of stress attendant a peri-pandemic affair, the wine went a long way towards relieving it.
Following the final awards presentation of the night by actor Michael Shannon—a particular fan of the brand’s Paso Robles Red—the lights came up, and the talent and crew raised a heartfelt Robert Hall toast in celebration of the night’s achievement and the indomitable New York sass and style; a brilliant tribute to the Big Apple and the filmmakers who call it home.
As the evening got underway, breakthrough Zachary Quinto presented the Breakthrough Actor Award to winner Kingsley Ben-Adir for One Night in Miami, who accepted from a hotel in London at 1AM his time. Padma Lakshmi then presented the Best Documentary award to dual winners: A Thousand Cuts director Ramona S. Diaz and Time director Garrett Bradley.
The first batch of winners were hampered by technical issues, and there were a few moments of “Can you hear me? Is this thing on?”, but everyone got the hang of the virtual call-and-response as the night unfolded.
NYC Film Commission Head Anne del Castillo presented the “Made in New York” Award to fellow commissioner Jeffrey Wright for his work for food delivery relief program “Brooklyn for Life.” Wright delivered his acceptance speech in front of a convincing Basquiat reproduction from his Brooklyn “home borough.”
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea) presented the Screenwriting Award to two separate scripts: The 40 Year Old Version by Radha Blank, who exclaimed “Holy s**t! I’m kind of shocked. I’m done,” upon winning, and Fourteen by Dan Sallitt.
George C. Wolfe, the director of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, presented a tribute to Viola Davis, which was followed by Renee Elise Goldsberry delivering the student filmmaker honors. The Gotham Executive Director Jeffrey Sharp announced a Joel Schumacher endowment program for undergraduate filmmakers in honor of the late director, who passed in 2020.
The Mustang director Laure de Clermont-Tonnere presented the International Feature Award to Identifying Features and its director, Maïmouna Doucouré.
Nicole Kidman presented the Industry Award to her Prom collaborator Ryan Murphy. After he accepted the award, a colleague said, “Thank you for having the courage to tell the stories many people aren’t brave enough to tell.” Palm Springs star Cristen Milioti then presented the Gotham Audience Award to Nomadland and director Chloé Zhao, who, above all, thanked “the audience.”
Aaron Sorkin introduced the Ensemble Award tribute to The Trial of The Chicago 7, represented by tributes from cast members including Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Noah Robbins, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Alex Sharp, Alice Kremelberg, and Kelvin Harrison Jr.
Steve Gaghan followed Sorkin’s tribute and gave the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award to Andrew Patterson for his film The Vast of Night. Lupita Nyong’o kept the lovefest going by presenting the Director’s Tribute Award to her 12 Years a Slave collaborator Steve McQueen.
Euphoria star Hunter Schafer, in studio, presented the Breakthrough Series award to I May Destroy You. The show’s creator and star, Michaela Coel, couldn’t attend, but she sent a note saying, “I want to thank you to everyone for helping me birth this project. The only disappointing part was the end of it.”
The Undoing actor Noma Dumezweni presented the Breakthrough Award for series exceeding 40 minutes to HBO’s Watchmen, which was accepted by the show’s executive producer, Nicole Kassell.
The most heartfelt moment of the evening came when Moonlight star André Holland delivered a tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman. “He was gracious without being officious, tender without being sentimental,” Holland said. “We have a saying in the South that goes, ‘One and one don’t always make two, sometimes it makes three or four.’”
Holland led the audience in a moment of silence. Boseman’s widow, Simone Ledward Boseman, also took the stage and gave tender insight into the life of the Black Panther star. “[Chadwick] actively searched for the truth in himself and those around him in the moment”, she recalled. “He was blessed to live many lives. He harnessed the power of letting go.”
Anthony Mackie, who starred alongside Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, presented the Best Actress Award to Nicole Beharie for her turn in Miss Juneteenth. Beharie was shocked to win, and perhaps even more shocked by the audio malfunction on her mic. She eventually got it working and said, “Oh my God, OK. Should I just talk? I was not expecting this. Such an amazing group of people I am honored just to be in this category.”
Godzilla vs. King Kong star Rebecca Hall presented the award for Best Actor to Riz Ahmed for The Sound of Metal, and Michael Shannon presented the final award of the night for Best Feature. Shannon made note of the all-female roster of nominees before giving the award to Nomadland and Chloe Zhao.
The director was ecstatic and thanked all who were watching. “Thanks for sharing a category with us”, she gushed. “Thanks to all the film festivals who screened our film. We love you New York City, be safe, strong and thank you!”
As the expression goes, without the sponsors the event would not be possible. Robert Hall Winery, founded in 1999 by Robert and Margaret Hall in the rolling hills of Paso Robles wine country, created an iconic Paso Robles winery that specializes in delivering the “Essence of Paso Robles.”
They believed Paso Robles could deliver an excellent bottle of wine to consumers at a reasonable price, and for those who visited the winery in person (and they will visit in person in the future), they could have a first-class experience on the beautiful grounds. Wine enthusiasts and critics agreed, awarding the winery many top accolades over the years as production volume climbed on an annual basis.
Against considerable odds, Robert Hall helped make The Gotham Awards a night of love for independent film—which New York claims as its own—as well as hope for the future of New York City as an artistic and media capital.