Magazine article Variety

How Golden Can the IFP's Indie Awards Actually Become?

Magazine article Variety

How Golden Can the IFP's Indie Awards Actually Become?

Article excerpt

THE IFP GOTHAM AWARDS are on a real golden streak: They honored the same best picture winner as the Academy Awards the past two years - "Spotlight" and "Birdman" - and tipped "The Hurt Locker" before that. They also honored Julianne Moore for her performance in "Still Alice" months before she got her golden statuette in Hollywood and named eventual Oscar documentary winner "Citizenfour" tops at the same ceremony.

Will the Gothams be just as golden this year? Does it even matter?

Regardless how the final trophies match up, one thing is clear: IFP's awards presentation has come a long way in 25 years. Once decidedly regional and resolutely quirky, it has transformed into a credible Oscar bellwether for independent films.

Joana Vicente, IFP executive director, takes pride in the fact that Gotham winners have gone on to win the biggest Academy Award two years in a row.

"These are amazing films that are artistic, independently made and strong enough to win the Oscar," she says. "I hope the trend continues."

Gotham best feature nominees are a predictably eclectic bunch: the category includes higher-profile entries such as "Manchester by the Sea" and "Moonlight," along with Kelly Reichardt's elliptical prairie drama "Certain Women" and Jim Jarmusch's quietly poetic "Paterson." Richard Linklater's bro-heavy "Everybody Wants Some!!" rounds out the group.

"You see it every year," Vicente says. "Last year you had 'Spotlight,' and 'A Woman Walks Home Alone at Night,'" the latter winning the Gotham's Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award for Ana Lily Amirpour.

Vicente points to the eclectic mix as a sign that the Gotham Awards have not lost their indie spirit even as the show itself has grown into a more traditional affair. It may now include categories such as actor and actress in addition to several breakthrough categories, but it will still shine a spotlight on bigger indies and more esoteric fare alike.

"In a way, we turned 25 and we feel like we've grown up, but we still want to have an edge," she says. "We're more centered, but we're trying to do it our way."

One way the Gothams do that is by including male and female actors in its breakthrough category: "Certain Women" thesp Lily Gladstone will compete against "Manchester by the Sea's" Lucas Hedges, Royalty Hightower ("The Fits"), Sasha Lane from "American Honey" and Anya Taylor- Joy from "The Witch. …

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