Beginners & Tree of Life Lead Surprise Gotham Wins


Going into tonight’s annual IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards, there was certainly a lot of opinions that Alexander Payne’s The Descendants would be cleaning house, being that it was nominated in the most categories, but when the dust settled, the well-reviewed box office success was left with not a single award despite many Oscar prognosticators having it as a frontrunner for a Best Picture Oscar.

Instead, Mike Mills’ Beginners, starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer, was the big winner, following its surprise win for Best Ensemble Performance with a shared win for Best Feature alongside Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life.

Dee Rees, who got a lot of attention at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for her drama Pariah beat out her fellow Sundance initiates Mike Cahill (Another Earth), Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Vera Farmiga (Higher Ground) and Evan Glodell (Bellflower) for Breakthrough Director, while Like Crazy star Felicity Jones bested Elizabeth Olsen, whom many deemed to be the favorite, for Breakthrough Actor.

Justin Lerner’s Girlfriend won the Gotham Independent Film Audience Award, Better This World took Best Documentary and Scenes of a Crime was deemed the “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.” Honorees at this year’s awards presentation included actors Gary Oldman and Charlize Theron, filmmaker David Cronenberg and Fox CEO Tom Rothman.

So where does that leave Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, which has had two astounding weekends at the box office, getting into the Top 10 despite playing in less than 500 theaters? Well, it’s still early in the awards season although for a movie thought by some to be frontrunner to win the Best Picture Oscar to not win a single award at the Gothams is somewhat worrisome. In the next couple days, the New York Film Critics Circle and National Board of Review will announce their awards and receiving honors from either group would give The Descendants another much-needed boost.

Look for our full Gotham Awards recap with quotes from some of the winners and those presented with tributes sometime soon.