Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler added to their awards season tally on Monday night at the IFP Gotham Awards. Celebrating the best of independent film, the Gotham Awards is the first notable ceremony of awards season.
The art house crowd gathered at Cipriani's in downtown Manhattan for the show, which was hosted by comedian Nick Kroll. Fruitvale Station won multiple awards, including Breakthrough Director for Ryan Coogler and Breakthrough Actor for Michael B. Jordan.
Forest Whitaker was also recognized with a tribute, delivered by his friend and The Butler director Lee Daniels. “When I did research for The Butler I became very angry at white people," said Daniels. "That s*** ain’t funny because it’s not funny what happened. The lesson I learned when I did The Butler was that Forest told me to keep my anger in, to not be a stereotypical angry Black man. Because if I were angry and I saw racism, then it became real. I had to step above it and pretend it wasn’t there." He continued, "Forest helped me through that. He taught me a lot.”
Whitaker, who has had a banner year as producer of Fruitvale Station and star of The Butler and Black Nativity, took the podium. “I’m just trying to remove the veil in front of my eyes, to discover the truth is not finite, it’s an infinite thing," he said movingly about his craft. "Then I surrender to the fact that even if I live on some foundation of truth, that I think I’m discovering something. It continues to expand. Physicists talk about the universe is expanding… I’m going to continue to place my attention with you in unveiling the complexity of the human experience, the human soul.”
Notably absent from the list of winners was 12 Years a Slave. The Oscars frontrunner led with three nominations, but went home empty-handed. One of the most critically adored films of the year and an art house hit, 12 Years a Slave is still at the top of many insiders' shortlists to win Oscar gold.
Other winners of the night include Matthew McConaughey (Best Actor for Dallas Buyer's Club), the Coen Brothers (Best Picture for Inside Llewyn Davis) and Brie Larson (Best Actress for Short Term 12).
Congrats to all the winners!
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(Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images for IFP)