Gothams, Polls, and Lists

Frances McDormand and Chloé Zhao during the making of Nomadland (2020)

In a virtual ceremony that the New York TimesKyle Buchanan describes as “more glitchy than glitzy,” the thirtieth annual Gotham Awards were presented last night, and Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland won not only best feature but also the audience award. Last week, Nomadland led the National Society of Film Critics awards, taking best feature, director, cinematography for Joshua James Richards’s work, and actress for Frances McDormand, who plays a woman roaming the American west after losing her husband, job, and home. The week before, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists honored Nomadland in all four of those categories and added two more for Zhao’s editing and her adapted screenplay based on Jessica Bruder’s 2017 book, Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century.

The Gothams’ choice for best actress is Nicole Beharie, who plays a single mother and former beauty queen in Channing Godfrey Peoples’s debut feature, Miss Juneteenth. At, Christy Lemire argues that “this would be a star-making role in an ordinary world.” Riz Ahmed has won best actor for his performance as a heavy metal drummer losing his hearing in another debut feature, Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal, which Beatrice Loayza, writing for Sight & Sound, calls “a song of mourning and rebirth with surprising emotional resonance.”

Gotham juries have declared two ties this year. The award for best documentary is split between Ramona S. Diaz’s A Thousand Cuts and Garrett Bradley’s Time. A Thousand Cuts focuses on Maria Ressa, a Filipino reporter targeted by populist president Rodrigo Duterte. “Charming, hardworking, committed, compassionate, and earnest, she and this haunting, depressing, infuriating film are reminders that every time a politician slings mud at the ‘lamestream press’ or talks about ‘fake news,’ what they're really doing is declaring war on facts—and on the people who still believe in the truth,” writes Richard Whittaker in the Austin Chronicle.

Time, for which Bradley won a directing award at last year’s Sundance, tracks the hard and lonely campaign of activist Sibil Fox Richardson to see her husband’s release from prison, where he’s serving a sixty-year sentence for robbing a bank. Fox Rich, as she’s known to most, fights the Louisiana legal system for two long decades while raising six children. “Exquisitely framed and directed, Time excels for its stirring emphasis on interiority, highlighting moments of subtle introspection, resolve, and astoundingly, joy,” writes Dessane Lopez Cassell at Hyperallergic, where Time tops the editors and contributors’ list of the top fifteen films of 2020.

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