The love train for “12 Years A Slave” came to a full stop Monday night at the Gotham Independent Film Awards, held at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. The critically acclaimed film failed to win any of their three nominations (Best Feature, Best Actor, Best Breakthrough Performance). One of the most buzzed about movies of 2013, critics and award analysts have predicted “12 Years A Slave” will be an Oscar forerunner, but for the Gotham Awards voting jury, the intense slave narrative just wasn’t their cup of tea.
On the bright side, “Fruitvale Station” nabbed two awards – Best Breakthrough Performance for actor Michael B. Jordan and Best Breakthrough Director for Ryan Coogler. In his acceptance speech Jordan paid tribute to his real life character Oscar Grant who was fatally shot by a BART police officer on New Year’s Day in 2009: “Oscar’s story needed to be told, so I thank the Gotham Awards for acknowledging his story.”
The highlight of the evening came courtesy of director Lee Daniels (“The Butler”) who called out the audience out for being too chatty while presenting the Actor Tribute award to Forest Whitaker: “Forest would love to hear you all talking throughout my speech so shut the f*ck up!”
Daniels went on to share how working with Whitaker improved his mental outlook as a Black director working in Hollywood: “When I did research on ‘The Butler’ I became very angry at White people…but Forest told me to keep my anger in, to not be a stereotypical angry black man… he helped me through that.”
Whitaker gave a very moving and emotional speech, saying: “I’m just trying to remove the veil in front of my eyes, to discover my place in the world….the truth continues to expand and I grow and grow and grow.”
Scott Feinberg, the lead award analyst at The Hollywood Reporter tweeted, “Night’s first full standing ovation goes to Forest Whitaker. I’m telling you, this man is getting a best actor Oscar nomination this year…”
Full list of winners below:
Inside Llewyn Davis
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, directors; Scott Rudin, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, producers (CBS Films)
Brie Larson in Short Term 12
Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club
BINGHAM RAY BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR
Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station
(The Weinstein Company)
Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station
(The Weinstein Company)
The Act of Killing
Joshua Oppenheimer, director; Signe Byrge, Joshua Oppenheimer, producers (Drafthouse Films)
Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings
Tadashi Nakamura, director; Donald Young, producer
(Center for Asian American Media and PBS)
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