Maggie Gyllenhaal film wins four awards in Oscar season opener

Her Elena Ferrante adaptation The Lost Daughter triumphed in four categories at the Gothams.

2021 Gotham Awards – Winners Room
2021 Gotham Awards – Winners Room

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Elena Ferrante adaptation The Lost Daughter has triumphed in four categories including best feature film at the Gotham Awards, the New York independent film celebration that kicks off Oscar season.

Gyllenhaal won breakthrough director and best screenplay for her directorial debut while its British star Olivia Colman shared the award for outstanding lead performance with Frankie Faison, who appears in The Killing Of Kenneth Chamberlain, a drama based on a 2011 police shooting in White Plains, New York.

The Lost Daughter, a Netflix release, opens in cinemas on December 17.

As one of the first stops in the long march to the Oscars, Monday evening’s Gothams was the first real attempt since the pandemic began to summon all the season’s usual glitz and pomp.

2021 Gotham Awards – Winners Room
Maggie Gyllenhaal, left, and husband Peter Sarsgaard share a moment in the winners room (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Stars including Kristen Stewart, Tessa Thompson and Dakota Johnson walked the red carpet.

Inside the crowded banquet hall, attendees were required to provide proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test.

Last year’s Gothams, where Nomadland won the top award, were held virtually, with winners accepting awards by Zoom and an online platform deployed to digitally sit guests at tables.

This year, even with the recent discovery of the Omicron variant spooking a film industry still trying to rebound from the pandemic, the Gothams got back to normal — even while tweaking traditions.

For the first time, the Gothams were presented without gendered acting categories.

While the season’s top award shows — the Oscars, the Emmys, the Tonys — have not yet embraced such a move, the Gothams are part of a growing number of awards bodies, including the Grammys and the MTV Film and TV Awards, to ditch “best actor” and “best actress”.

Several times during Monday night’s show that was applauded.

Ethan Hawke, a co-winner for his performance in the series The Good Lord Bird, said he never understood the separate categories in the first place.

2021 Gotham Awards – Winners Room
Ethan Hawke poses with the outstanding performance in a new series award (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

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“True talent shines through the divisions meant to separate us,” said Billions actor Asia Kate Dillon, a presenter who identifies as non-binary.

Other borders seemed to disintegrate at the Gothams, once a more narrow celebration of independent film.

Among the series winners was Netflix’s Squid Game, the pop-culture sensation that has been watched for more than 2 billion hours, according to the streaming service.

At the Gothams, speeches have often exalted the hard work and sometimes lesser-seen rewards of indie film.

CODA, the celebrated coming-of-age drama about a hearing daughter in a deaf family, won several awards.

Troy Kotsur, the veteran deaf actor who plays the film’s fisherman father, won outstanding supporting performance.

2021 Gotham Awards – Arrivals
Troy Kotsur was among those honoured (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Emilia Jones, who stars as the daughter, won breakthrough performer. After an award-winning debut at a virtual Sundance Film Festival, the film’s awards hopes had seemed to lag somewhat after a muted streaming debut on Apple TV+ in August but the Gothams gave CODA a boost.

“First off, I’m absolutely handless right now,” Kotsur said through sign language, shaking his hands.

Nominees and winners (except for best film) are chosen by juries for the Gothams. In a few categories, they elected multiple winners — like for outstanding lead performance where Colman and Faison both won from a pool of 10 nominees.

Other winners included Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s intimate epic Drive My Car for best international film and Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee, an animated film about an Afghanistan migrant’s life, for best documentary.

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