First Cow Leads the Gotham Awards Nominations

Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow (2019)

It’s going to be an awards season like no other, but let’s not dwell on that. Instead, let’s celebrate the nominations for the Gotham Awards announced today because all five films up for best feature have been directed by women. Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow, a gentle story of friendship and oily cakes in the Oregon Territory of the 1820s, leads with four, scoring further nominations for Reichardt and Jon Raymond’s screenplay and for the lead performances by John Magaro (best actor) and Orion Lee (breakthrough actor). Also nominated for best feature are:

  • Kitty Green’s The Assistant, which centers on Julia Garner’s quietly riveting performance as an office worker tempted to call out a philandering boss not-so-subtly modeled on Harvey Weinstein.

  • Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always, the winner of a special jury award at Sundance and a Silver Bear in Berlin. Accompanied by her supportive and resourceful cousin (Talia Ryder), a seventeen-year-old (newcomer Sidney Flanigan, nominated for a breakthrough director award) travels to New York for an abortion unavailable to her in her small Pennsylvania town.

  • Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland, a compassionate portrait of a middle-aged woman (Frances McDormand, nominated for best actress) who finds herself “not homeless,” just “houseless.” Nomadland premiered on the same day in Venice, where it won the Golden Lion, and in Toronto as well as at an event in Los Angeles hosted by Telluride.

  • Natalie Erika James’s feature debut, Relic, a haunted tale that Sheila O’Malley, writing for, finds “filled with subtle detail, character depth, and a creeping mood of dread, illuminated by the three central performances given by [Robyn] Nevin, Emily Mortimer, and Bella Heathcote.”

We’ve recently taken a look at critical response to Garrett Bradley’s Time and Frederick Wiseman’s City Hall, both of which are nominated for best documentary. The other three nominees are:

  • 76 Days, which focuses on the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. Directed by Hao Wu, Weixi Chen, and a third filmmaker credited as “Anonymous,” 76 Days “feels like essential viewing in beginning to process and reflect on how humanity has faced one of its greatest challenges yet,” writes Geoff Berkshire in the Los Angeles Times. It’s currently screening as part of this year’s DOC NYC festival.

  • Yang Sun and S. Leo Chiang’s Our Time Machine, a portrait of multimedia artist Maleonn and his father, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The Austin Chronicle’s Marjorie Baumgarten finds the film “poignant and universal.”

  • Ramona S. Diaz’s A Thousand Cuts, in which Philippine journalist Maria Ressa faces off against President Rodrigo Duterte’s relentless attacks on the press. The film has left Jessica Kiang, writing for Variety in February, “more profoundly aware than ever of the gathering darkness of our current geopolitical moment, and more fervently grateful that there are torchbearers like Maria Ressa to lead us to the light.” A Thousand Cuts is also screening at DOC NYC.

Filmmaker has the full list of nominations, and the winners will be announced on January 11.

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