Gotham Awards Kick Off Season with Love for Llewyn Davis, Fruitvale Station

The 2013 IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards took place tonight at Cipriani’s down on Wall Street, hosted by comedian Nick Kroll, and Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis took the top honor as Best Feature over Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave and three others.

Ryan Coogler’s Sundance and Cannes favorite Fruitvale Station took both Breakthrough awards, Coogler getting the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director honor and his star Michael B. Jordan taking Breakthrough Actor.

As far as the other acting honors, Matthew McConaughey received a Gotham for his portrayal of Ron Woodroof in the AIDS drama Dallas BuyersÂ’ Club, while Brie Larson did the same for the acclaimed indie Short Term 12.

Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing, another festival favorite, was honored as the top doc of the year. (Oddly, IFP omitted the annual Best Ensemble award this year, especially considering the number of great ensemble films.)

There were also tributes to the late James Gandolfini by “Sopranos” director and co-star Steve Buscemi, and to Before Midnight director Richard Linklater by the film’s stars, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. The Butler director Lee Daniels paid tribute to that film’s star, Forest Whitaker.

The Gotham Awards tend to do their own thing although every once in a while, their picks align with those of the Academy, most notably the year that The Hurt Locker won Best Feature, but they also foretold the nomination for Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life a year later. Last year’s Best Feature went to Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, which only received one Oscar nomination for its screenplay, but receiving a Gotham Award in the category mere days before the movie’s release certainly should give a boost to the Coens’ tribute to folk music. It also puts a minor kink in the armor of McQueen’s critically-acclaimed drama which many have pegged as an Oscar Best Picture frontrunner.

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