‘Moonlight’ Wins Big at 2016 Gotham Awards

Article Image
Photo Source: YouTube

Barry Jenkins and his coming-of-age indie “Moonlight” took the lead in the awards season race Nov. 28 with the presentation of the 2016 Gotham Awards. Winning best picture, best screenplay, the audience award, and the previously announced Gotham Jury Award for ensemble performance, A24’s “Moonlight” now has significant momentum heading into this year’s Film Independent Spirit Awards—and perhaps the SAG, Golden Globe, and Academy Awards, too.

Jenkins (who was nominated for the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award in 2008) thanked everyone involved in bringing “Moonlight” to life, including Tarell Alvin McCraney, whose play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” provided its story. The film has been wowing critics and audiences since its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival. Mahershala Ali, accepting the special ensemble award on behalf of the cast, said, “I can confidently speak for all of us when I say we are forever changed.”

READ: “1 Secret to Casting First-Time Actors in ‘Moonlight’ ”

Isabelle Huppert took home the best actress award for her performance in Sony Pictures Classics’ “Elle,” beating stiff competition between Natalie Portman in “Jackie” and Annette Bening in “20th Century Women.” The French actor’s win bodes well for her chances at the upcoming Oscars, where she has never been nominated despite decades of stellar work. Casey Affleck won the award for best actor for Kenneth Lonergan’s family drama “Manchester by the Sea” from Roadside Attractions and Amazon Studios, a film which otherwise left empty-handed.

Anya Taylor-Joy took home the breakthrough actor award for A24’s indie horror hit “The Witch,” besting Lily Gladstone in IFC Films’ “Certain Women,” Lucas Hedges in “Manchester,” Royalty Hightower in Oscilloscope Laboratories’ “The Fits,” and Sasha Lane in A24’s “American Honey.” Meanwhile, in the breakthrough TV series categories, Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna’s CW comedy-musical “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and Jen Richards and Laura Zak’s “Her Story” were recognized.

Winona Ryder gave an impassioned introduction to Ethan Hawke, who along with Amy Adams, Arnon Milchan, and Oliver Stone, accepted the Gotham Awards’ actor tributes. Adams, returning to the Gothams after earning the breakthrough actor award in 2005, was introduced by an enthusiastic Cate Blanchett.

Presented annually by the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), the largest independent film membership organization in the country, the Gotham Awards have been honoring indie artists since 1991. See the full list of this year’s winners below.

“Certain Women” – Kelly Reichardt, director; Neil Kopp, Vincent Savino, Anish Savjani, producers (IFC Films)
“Everybody Wants Some!!” – Richard Linklater, director; Megan Ellison, Ginger Sledge, Richard Linklater, producers (Paramount Pictures)
“Manchester by the Sea” – Kenneth Lonergan, director; Kimberly Steward, Matt Damon, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck, Kevin J. Walsh, producers (Amazon Studios)
“Moonlight” – Barry Jenkins, director; Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, producers (A24)
“Paterson” – Jim Jarmusch, director; Joshua Astrachan, Carter Logan, producers (Amazon Studios)

Kate Beckinsale, “Love & Friendship” (Amazon Studios)
Annette Bening, “20th Century Women” (A24)
Isabelle Huppert, “Elle” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Ruth Negga, “Loving” (Focus Features)
Natalie Portman, “Jackie” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea” (Amazon Studios)
Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water” (CBS Films)
Adam Driver, “Paterson” (Amazon Studios)
Joel Edgerton, “Loving” (Focus Features)
Craig Robinson, “Morris from America” (A24)

Lily Gladstone, “Certain Women” (IFC Films)
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea” (Amazon Studios)
Royalty Hightower, “The Fits” (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Sasha Lane, “American Honey” (A24)
Anya Taylor-Joy, “The Witch” (A24)

* The 2016 Best Actor/Best Actress and Breakthrough Actor nominating panels also voted to award a special Gotham Jury Award for ensemble performance to Moonlight, “in which actors at all levels of experience give outstanding performances that speak eloquently to one another both within and across each chapter of the story.” The awards will go to actors Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Alex Hibbert, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monáe, Jaden Piner, Trevante Rhodes, and Ashton Sanders.

Robert Eggers, “The Witch” (A24)
Anna Rose Holmer, “The Fits” (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, “Swiss Army Man” (A24)
Trey Edward Shults, “Krisha” (A24)
Richard Tanne, “Southside with You” (Roadside Attractions and Miramax)

“Hell or High Water,” Taylor Sheridan (CBS Films)
“Love & Friendship,” Whit Stillman (Amazon Studios)
“Manchester by the Sea,” Kenneth Lonergan (Amazon Studios)
“Moonlight,” Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney; Screenplay by Barry Jenkins (A24)
“Paterson,” Jim Jarmusch (Amazon Studios)

“Cameraperson” – Kirsten Johnson, director; Marilyn Ness, producer (Janus Films)
“I Am Not Your Negro” – Raoul Peck, director; Rémi Grellety, Raoul Peck, Hébert Peck, producers (Magnolia Pictures)
“O.J.: Made in America” – Ezra Edelman, director; Caroline Waterlow, Ezra Edelman, Tamara Rosenberg, Nina Krstic, Deirdre Fenton, Erin Leyden, producers (ESPN Films)
“Tower” – Keith Maitland, director; Keith Maitland, Megan Gilbride, Susan Thomson, producers (Kino Lorber, Independent Lens)
“Weiner” – Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg, directors and producers (Sundance Selects and Showtime Documentary Films)

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna, creators; Marc Webb, Rachel Bloom, Aline Brosh McKenna, Erin Ehrlich, executive producers (The CW)
“The Girlfriend Experience,” Lodge Kerrigan, Amy Seimetz, creators; Steven Soderbergh, Philip Fleischman, Amy Seimetz, Lodge Kerrigan, Jeff Cuban, Gary Marcus, executive producers (Starz)
“Horace and Pete,” Louis C.K., creator; M. Blair Breard, Dave Becky, Vernon Chatman, Dino Stamatopoulos, executive producers (louisck.net)
“Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” Melissa Rosenberg, creator; Melissa Rosenberg, Liz Friedman, Alan Fine, Stan Lee, Joe Quesada, Dan Buckley, Jim Chory, Jeph Loeb, Howard Klein, executive producers (Netflix)
“Master of None,” Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, creators; Michael Schur, David Miner, Dave Becky, executive producers (Netflix)

“The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo,” Brian Jordan Alvarez, creator (YouTube)
“Her Story,” Jen Richards and Laura Zak, creators (herstoryshow.com)
“The Movement,” Darnell Moore, Host (Mic.com)
“Sitting in Bathrooms with Trans People,” Dylan Marron, creator (Seriously.TV)
“Surviving,” Reagan Gomez, creator (YouTube)

Want to star in an indie film hit? Check out our film audition listings!

For practical acting advice from industry professionals, visit Backstage’s YouTube channel!

Author Headshot
Jack Smart
Jack Smart is the awards editor at Backstage, where he covers all things Emmy, SAG, Oscar, and Tony Awards. He also produces and hosts Backstage’s awards podcast “In the Envelope” and has interviewed some of the biggest stars of stage and screen.
See full bio and articles here!