The Gothams Honor Nomadland


The Gotham Awards were handed out last night, honoring the best in independent film.  In the past, the Gothams have been awarded at the starts of awards season but this year, they’re happening right in the middle.  It’s a weird awards season but apparently, Nomadland either winning or being a serious contender is the one thing that you can depend upon.  Admittedly, it’s debatable how much of influence the Gothams really have on the Oscars.  Many films that Oscar-eligible are not considered to be Gotham-eligible.  For instance, the big-budgeted, studio-backed blockbusters that are often mentioned as possible Oscar nominees are not Gotham eligible.  There’s a kind of nice justice to that, I think.

That said, every victory helps.  Nomadland has kind of been an obvious Oscar contender for several months now but it never hurts to notch another victory on the wall.

Here’s are the nominees and the winners, with the winners in bold:

Best Feature
The Assistant
First Cow
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Nomadland
Relic

Best Documentary
76 Days
City Hall
Our Time Machine
A Thousand Cuts (TIE)
Time (TIE)

Best International Feature
Bacurau
Beanpole
Cuties (Mignonnes)
Identifying Features
Martin Eden
Wolfwalkers

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version
Channing Godfrey Peoples – Miss Juneteenth
Alex Thompson – Saint Frances
Carlo Mirabella-Davis – Swallow
Andrew Patterson – The Vast of Night

Best Screenplay
Bad Education – Mike Makowsky
First Cow – Jon Raymond, Kelly Reichardt
The Forty-Year-Old Version – Radha Blank (TIE)
Fourteen – Dan Sallitt (TIE)
The Vast of Night – James Montague, Craig Sanger

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Jude Law – The Nest
John Magaro – First Cow
Jesse Plemons – I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Best Actress
Nicole Beharie – Miss Juneteenth
Jessie Buckley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Yuh-Jung Youn – Minari
Carrie Coon – The Nest
Frances McDormand – Nomadland

Breakthrough Actor
Jasmine Batchelor – The Surrogate
Kingsley Ben-Adir – One Night in Miami…
Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Orion Lee – First Cow
Kelly O’Sullivan – Saint Frances

Breakthrough Series – Long Format (over 40 minutes)
The Great
Immigration Nation
P-Valley
Unorthodox
Watchmen

Breakthrough Series – Short Format (under 40 minutes)
Betty
Dave
I May Destroy You
Taste the Nation
Work in Progress

Keeping in mind that I haven’t seen all of the nominees yet, I guess my favorite winner is Andrew Patterson as Breakthrough Director for The Vast of Night.  The Vast of Night was one of my favorite films last year and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Patterson does in the future.

Along with these awards, the Gothams also paid special tribute to: Steve McQueen, Ryan Murphy, actors Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman and the ensemble cast of The Trial Of The Chicago 7.  A tip of the hat to Next Best Picture for that information.  I did consider watching the Gothams last night but …. well, The Bachelor was on and then after that, I was really tired.  To be honest, I would probably have watched if the awards had been presented by people dressed up like Batman.  Y’know, Gothams.  Gotham City.  All of that.  Anyway….

Congrats to the winners!

Belatedly, Here Are The Gotham Award Nominations!


The Gotham nominations were announced on Thursday and I totally missed them!

Seriously, that’s how crazy this year has been.

Anyway, with so much up in the air, it’s probably debatable how much anything can be gleaned about the state of the Oscar race from these nominations.  In fact, even in a normal year, the Gothams aren’t exactly known for being Oscar precursors.  However, they do honor worthy independent films and often, they encourage us to track down films that we may have otherwise missed.

Only film with a budget under $35 million were eligible for a Gotham nomination.  So, don’t look at this list and go, “OH MY GOD, WHERE’S MANK!?  WHERE’S TENENT!?”  They’re not eligible.

Anyway, here are the Gotham nominations:

Best Feature
“The Assistant”
“First Cow”
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
“Nomadland”
“Relic”

Best Documentary
“76 Days”
“City Hall”
“Our Time Machine”
“A Thousand Cuts”
“Time”

Best International Feature
“Bacurau”
“Beanpole”
“Cuties (Mignonnes)”
“Identifying Features”
“Martin Eden”
“Wolfwalkers”

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Carlo Mirabella-Davis, “Swallow”
Rhada Blank, “The Forty Year Old Version”
Andrew Patterson, “Vast of Night”
Channing Godfrey Peoples, “Miss Juneteenth”
Alex Thompson, “Saint Frances”

Best Screenplay
“Bad Education,” Mike Makowsky
“First Cow,” Jon Raymond and Kelly Reichardt
“The Forty-Year-Old Version,” Radha Blank
“Fourteen,” Dan Sallitt
“The Vast of Night,” James Montague and Craig Sanger

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”
Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Jude Law, “The Nest”
John Magaro, “First Cow”
Jesse Plemons, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”

Best Actress
Nicole Beharie, “Miss Juneteenth”
Jessie Buckley, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”
Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari”
Carrie Coon, “The Nest”
Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”

Breakthrough Actor
Sidney Flanigan, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
Jasmine Batchelor, “The Surrogate”
Kelly O’Sullivan, “Saint Frances”
Orion Lee, “First Cow”
Kingsley Ben-Adir, “One Night in Miami”

Breakthrough Series – Long Form
“The Great”
“Immigration Nation”
“P-Valley”
“Unorthodox”
“Watchmen”

Breakthrough Series – Short Form
“Betty”
“Dave”
“I May Destroy You”
“Taste the Nation”
“Work in Progress”

Shattered Politics #54: Dave (dir by Ivan Reitman)


Dave Poster

Way back in 1919, the terrible U.S. President and tyrannical dictator Woodrow Wilson* suffered a stroke that left him semi-paralyzed and unable to perform his duties.  By all standards, Wilson should have been removed from office, if just temporarily.  However, in those pre-Internet days, it was a lot easier to hide the truth about Wilson’s physical and mental condition.  While Wilson spent his days locked away in his bedroom, his wife Edith would forge his signature on bills.  Whenever anyone asked for the President’s opinion, Edith would give her opinion and then assure everyone that it was actually the President’s.

(And really, as long as you were promoting eugenics and white supremacy, it probably was not difficult to imitate Wilson’s opinions.)

Of course, back then, people were used to the idea of never seeing their President in public.  Hence, it was very easy for Wilson to remain sequestered in the White House.  If a similar situation happened today, it’s doubtful that anyone could successfully keep the public from finding out.  When we don’t see the President every day, we wonder why.  How, in this day and age, could a Presidential incapacitation be covered up?

The 1993 film Dave offers up one possible solution.

Dave is the story of two men who happen to look exactly like Kevin Kline.  One of them is named Bill Mitchell and he’s the arrogant and corrupt President of the United States.  The other is named Dave Kovic.  He’s a nice guy who runs a temp agency and who has a nice side job going as a professional Bill Mitchell imitator.

So, when Bill has a stroke while having sex with a white house staffer (Laura Linney), it only makes sense to recruit Dave Kovic to pretend to the President.  White House Chief of Staff Bob Alexander (played by Frank Langella, so you know he’s evil) tells Dave that Vice President Nance (Ben Kingsley) is insane and corrupt.  Dave agrees to imitate the President.  Of course, Alexander’s main plan is to convince Nance to resign and then get Dave to appoint him as Vice President.  Once Alexander is Vice President, it will be announced that Mitchell has had another stroke and then Alexander will move into the Oval Office.

However, what Alexander did not take into account was just how much Dave would enjoy being President.  From the moment that he joyfully shouts, “God Bless, America!,” Dave’s enthusiasm starts to win the public over.  Suddenly, people are realizing that President Mitchell isn’t such a bad President after all.  Even more importantly, Dave wins over the first lady (Sigourney Weaver) who, previously, had little use for her philandering husband.  When Alexander claims that there’s no money in the budget to continue funding a program for the homeless, Dave calls in his best friend, an accountant named Murray (Charles Grodin), and has him rewrite the budget…

And you know what?

Dave is one of those films that tempts me to be all cynical and snarky but, ultimately, the film itself is so likable and earnest that I can even accept the idea that one accountant could balance the budget through common sense alone.  I’ll even accept the idea that Dave could come up with a program that would guarantee everyone employment without, at the same time, bankrupting the country.  Kevin Kline is so enthusiastic in the lead role and the film itself is so good-natured that it almost feels wrong to criticize it for being totally implausible.

Sometimes, you just have to appreciate a film for being likable.

Dave—–

* For those of you keeping count, that’s the third time in two weeks that I’ve referred to Woodrow Wilson as being  a dictator.  Before anyone points out that some historians rank Wilson as being in the top ten of President, allow me to say that I don’t care.  I DO WHAT I WANT!