Awards Season Is On

Awkwafina and Tzi Ma in Lulu Wang’s The Farewell (2019)

There’s another full week of October left to go, but already, awards season is now officially open. So far this week we’ve seen nominations for the twenty-ninth Gotham Awards, presented by the Independent Film Project; the thirty-fifth IDA Documentary Awards, presented by the International Documentary Association; and the ninth AACTA Awards, presented by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. Let’s start with the headliner here, the Gothams.

Of the thirty-three films and series receiving nominations, four features lead with three each. Writer-director Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, starring Awkwafina as a Chinese-American who returns to China to discover that her family won’t tell her grandmother that she’s terminally ill, has been nominated for best feature, screenplay, and actress. Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, in which a breakup turns ugly when the lawyers are brought in, is in the running for best feature, screenplay (Baumbach), and actor (Adam Driver). Another best feature nominee is Josh and Benny Safdie’s Uncut Gems, in which Adam Sandler (nominated) plays a New York jeweler juggling risky deals and an affair with his employee (Julia Fox, nominated in the breakthrough actor category).

Joe Talbot, who cowrote The Last Black Man in San Francisco with Jimmie Fails and Rob Richert, is up for the Bingham Ray breakthrough director award along with Laure De Clermont-Tonnerre (The Mustang), Kent Jones (Diane), Olivia Wilde (Booksmart), and nineteen-year-old Phillip Youmans (Burning Cane). Last Black Man’s other two nominations are in the screenplay and breakthrough actor categories: Jonathan Majors plays the faithful friend of a young man determined to maintain his connection to his home town. Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers appears only in the best feature category, while Trey Edward Shults’s Waves, the fifth best feature nominee, scores a breakthrough actor nomination for Taylor Russell. When the Gothams are presented in New York on December 2, there will be tributes to Laura Dern, Sam Rockwell, Ava DuVernay, and FilmNation founder Glen Basner.

The IDA’s awards ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on December 7, and for the first time in its history, the Association will present an award for best director. As it happens, all the films nominated in the category have been directed or codirected by women: Advocate (Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche), American Factory (Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert), The Edge of Democracy (Petra Costa), For Sama (Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts), and Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov). Overall, it does seem that the greatest strides toward gender parity are being made in the field of documentary filmmaking. Earlier this week, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, whose 2019 edition will run from November 20 through December 1, announced its lineup, and sixty-four percent of the competition titles come from female filmmakers—who make up forty-seven percent of the total program.

Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, with Aisling Franciosi as a young Irish convict chasing a British officer through the Tasmanian wilderness in 1885, leads the AACTA nominations with fifteen. Anthony Maras’s Hotel Mumbai and David Michôd’s The King follow closely with thirteen each. The AACTAs will be presented in Sydney on December 4.

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