Two first features written and directed by women lead this year’s Gotham Awards nominations with five each. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter and Rebecca Hall’s Passing are both in the running for best feature, along with Shatara Michelle Ford’s Test Pattern (three nominations), David Lowery’s The Green Knight (two), and Michael Sarnoski’s Pig (one). The Lost Daughter premiered in Venice, Sundance launched Passing, and both films are headed to Netflix.
Dispatching back to the Los Angeles Times from Telluride, Justin Chang found that, in her adaption of Elena Ferrante’s 2008 novel, Gyllenhaal “tucks several stories into the movie’s busy but intensely focused sprawl: a European getaway from hell; a time-shuffling drama of adultery and abandonment; an under-the-skin portrait of desperate, frustrated motherhood to set beside We Need to Talk About Kevin.” Adapting Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel about two estranged friends who reunite in Harlem—both are Black, but one is “passing” for white—Hall tells a story “that dares you to assume where it will go,” writes Nicholas Russell at Reverse Shot.
For Leila Latif at Little White Lies, “the strength of Hall’s direction is in the performances she draws out of her cast.” The Gothams’ acting awards are going gender neutral for the first time this year, so new categories have been created: outstanding lead performance, outstanding supporting performance, and outstanding performance in a new series. Gyllenhaal and Hall are, of course, known for their acting careers, so it’s hardly a surprise that they have steered their lead and supporting performers toward nominations: Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley for The Lost Daughter, and Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga for Passing.
In another first for the Gothams, international contenders are eligible for the best documentary award. The nominees this year are Jessica Beshir’s Faya Dayi, Jessica Kingdon’s Ascension, Camilla Nielsson’s President, Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee, and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s Summer of Soul. The Gothams have also introduced a new award for breakthrough nonfiction series, and there is some overlap here with the round of nominations announced yesterday by Cinema Eye Honors in that both Raoul Peck’s Exterminate All the Brutes and Steve James’s City So Real have received nods from both organizations.
One of the executive producers on City So Real, a multilayered portrait of Chicago revolving around the 2019 mayoral election, is Diane Weyermann, who passed away earlier this month at the age of sixty-six. “Many acclaimed films in Cinema Eye history were guided and supported by Diane through her roles at Participant and, earlier, at the Sundance Documentary Fund,” says Cinema Eye founding director A. J. Schnack. “These nominations make clear that we will be celebrating Diane’s work at this year’s Cinema Eye and likely for many years to come.”
IndieWire’s Anne Thompson has spoken with several filmmakers who worked with Weyermann over the years. “She was like condensed sunlight,” says Joshua Oppenheimer (The Look of Silence). But “Diane wasn’t a cheerleader for our documentary community,” says Steve James. “While her championing of good and meaningful work was legendary, so too was the steel in her spine. She could be tough when it was called for, and there was no better person to have your back in tough times. When we had a hard time selling City So Real, her belief in it never wavered for a second, and she could deliver withering assessments of clueless acquisitions people, sometimes to their face if need be.”
When the Gotham Awards are presented on November 29, Jane Campion—whose The Power of the Dog is ineligible for a Gotham because it cost more than $35 million to make—will receive this year’s Director’s Tribute. Kristen Stewart will be honored with the Performer Tribute, and Eamonn Bowles, who heads up Magnolia Pictures, will receive the Industry Tribute. The Ensemble Tribute will go to the sprawling cast of Jeymes Samuel’s The Harder They Fall: Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, R. J. Cyler, Deon Cole, Regina King, and Idris Elba.
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