Gotham Awards: Moonlight Shines

Diversity was a serious theme at Monday's Gotham Awards, during a night of fun and celebration. Cipriani Wall Street was chockablock with film devotees: some filmmakers and new actors, discoveries, such as Anya Taylor-Joy who was awarded Breakthrough Actor for her work in The Witch. Moonlight, A24's critical and popular hit, was awarded for Best Ensemble and Best Feature. Natalie Portman, whose performance as Jackie will surely garner nominations as the award season progresses, presented the statue. Pregnant with her second child, the Academy Award winning actress quipped, her baby is not due soon enough.

Other presenters: Katie Holmes, Kate Beckinsale, J. C. Chandor, Judith Light, with maybe the best speech about being New Jersey bred but a New Yorker in heart and spirit, Gen X co-star Winona Ryder sending a love letter to Ethan Hawke, and Cate Blanchett professing an actor crush for Amy Adams. No one was more stunned than Isabelle Huppert, her edgy sang froid turn in Elle awarded Best Actress. Sony Pictures Classics' Michael Barker told the French actress she'd better attend the Gotham Awards, and she did, flying in that afternoon from Paris.

At the Explorer's Club the next day Moonlight director and screenwriter Barry Jenkins spoke about the surprise of finding his film so well received, viewers attending night after night. A coming of age movie about a young black gay boy growing up in the Miami projects, Moonlight features three actors in the role of Chiron at different life stages, his mother a crack addict, her dealer a father figure to him. Look for supporting Oscar nods for Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali. The writing is so nuanced, playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney's story so fresh, Jenkins had no problem interesting A24, the people who brought us Ten Years a Slave, in this work. As Jenkins marveled at the film's success, NBR announced its accolades for Moonlight, and named Manchester by the Sea their choice for Best Film. Its star, Casey Affleck was Gotham's Best Actor. And so it goes at awards time, with well deserving films vying for top honors!

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.