2019 IFP Gotham Awards: ‘Marriage Story’ is the top winner

December 2, 2019

by Carla Hay

Netflix’s “Marriage Story,” writer/director Noah Baumbach’s drama about the contentious divorce of a director and an actress, was the top winner at the 29th Annual Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) Gotham Awards, which were presented at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City on December 2, 2019.  “Marriage Story” won in every category for which it was nominated: Best Feature, Best Actor (for Adam Driver), Best Screenplay and Gotham Audience Award. There is no separate category for Best Director. The award for Best Feature goes to the director and producers.

Meanwhile, Awkwafina won Best Actress for A24’s “The Farwell,” a drama about a Chinese family who decides not to tell the family matriarch that she has cancer.  Taylor Russell of the African American family drama A24’s “Waves” was named Breakthrough Actor, while Laure De Clermont-Tonnerre of Focus Features’ “The Mustang” won the prize for Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director. Netflix’s “American Factory,” about the culture clash between American factory workers and the factory’s Chinese owners, was named Best Documentary.

For TV series, Netflix’s “When They See Us” about the Central Park Five was named Breakthrough Series–Long Format, while Hulu’s comedy “PEN15” was award Breakthrough Series–Short Format.

In addition to the competitive awards, Gotham Tributes were given to actors Laura Dern and Sam Rockwell, director Ava DuVernay, and the Gotham Industry Tribute to Glen Basner.

The dominance of Netflix at the award show signals that the streaming service has considerably increased its clout for movie awards. Netflix’s 2018 drama “Roma” dominated much of the top prizes for that awards season. For 2019, Netflix has top contenders “Marriage Story” (which qualifies for all movie awards for U.S. films) and “The Irishman,” whose large budget (a reported $140 million) makes it ineligible for independent film awards.

Because Netflix films are not carried by major movie theater chains in the U.S. and many other countries (due to Netflix making its movies available on the streaming services less than 60 days after their theatrical release), it remains to be seen how Netflix’s nonconformist business policies for movies will affect its chances for Best Picture prizes at award shows, such as the Oscars and Golden Globes, where Netflix has to compete against traditional major studios.

Here is the complete list of winners and nominations for the 2019 IFP Gotham Awards:

*=winner

Best Feature
The Farewell
Lulu Wang, director; Daniele Melia, Marc Turtletaub, Peter Saraf, Andrew Miano, Chris Weitz, Jane Zheng, Lulu Wang, Anita Gou, producers (A24)

Hustlers
Lorene Scafaria, director; Jessica Elbaum, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Jennifer Lopez, Benny Medina, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, producers (STXfilms)

Marriage Story*
Noah Baumbach, director; Noah Baumbach, David Heyman, producers (Netflix)

Uncut Gems
Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie, directors; Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, Sebastian Bear McClard, producers (A24)

Waves
Trey Edward Shults, director; James Wilson, Kevin Turen, Trey Edward Shults, producers (A24)

Best Documentary
American Factory*
Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, directors; Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert, Julie Parker Benello, producers (Netflix)

Apollo 11
Todd Douglas Miller, director; Todd Douglas Miller, Thomas Baxley Petersen, Evan Krauss, producers (NEON and CNN Films)

The Edge of Democracy
Petra Costa, director; Petra Costa, Tiago Pavan, Joanna Natasegara, Shane Boris, producers (Netflix)

Midnight Traveler
Hassan Fazili, director; Emelie Mahdavian, Su Kim, producers (Oscilloscope Laboratories)

One Child Nation
Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, directors; Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Christoph Jörg, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn, producers (Amazon Studios)

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Laure De Clermont-Tonnerre for The Mustang (Focus Features)*

Kent Jones for Diane (IFC Films)

Joe Talbot for The Last Black Man in San Francisco (A24)

Olivia Wilde for Booksmart (United Artists Releasing)

Phillip Youmans for Burning Cane (ARRAY Releasing)

Best Screenplay
The Farewell, Lulu Wang (A24)

High Flying Bird, Tarell Alvin McCraney (Netflix)

The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Jimmie Fails, Joe Talbot, Rob Richert (A24)

Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach (Netflix)*

Midsommar, Ari Aster (A24)

Best Actor
Willem Dafoe in The Lighthouse (A24)

Adam Driver in Marriage Story (Netflix)*

Aldis Hodge in Clemency (NEON)

André Holland in High Flying Bird (Netflix)

Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems (A24)

Best Actress
Awkwafina in The Farewell (A24)*

Elisabeth Moss in Her Smell (Gunpowder & Sky)

Mary Kay Place in Diane (IFC Films)

Florence Pugh in Midsommar (A24)

Alfre Woodard in Clemency (NEON)

Breakthrough Actor
Julia Fox in Uncut Gems (A24)

Aisling Franciosi in The Nightingale (IFC Films)

Chris Galust in Give Me Liberty (Music Box Films)

Noah Jupe in Honey Boy (Amazon Studios)

Jonathan Majors in The Last Black Man in San Francisco (A24)

Taylor Russell in Waves (A24)*

Breakthrough Series – Long Format (over 40 minutes)
Chernobyl, Craig Mazin, creator; Craig Mazin, Carolyn Strauss, Jane Featherstone, executive producers (HBO)

David Makes Man, Tarell Alvin McCraney, creator; Mike Kelley, Melissa Loy, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Denitria Harris-Lawrence, Michael B. Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, executive producers (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)

My Brilliant Friend, Saverio Costanzo, creator; Domenico Procacci; Lorenzo Mieli, Mario Gianani, Guido De Laurentiis, Elena Recchia, Jennifer Schuur, Paolo Sorrentino, executive producers (HBO)

Unbelievable, Susannah Grant, Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly, Lisa Cholodenko, Ayelet Waldman & Michael Chabon, Katie Couric, Richard Tofel, Neil Barsky, Robyn Semien, Marie, executive producers (Netflix)

When They See Us, Ava DuVernay, creator; Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King, Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro, Berry Welsh, Oprah Winfrey, Ava DuVernay, executive producers (Netflix)*

Breakthrough Series – Short Format (under 40 minutes)
PEN15, Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Sam Zvibleman, creators; Anna Konkle, Sam Zvibleman, Debbie Liebling, Gabe Liedman, Marc Provissiero, Brooke Pobjoy, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Becky Sloviter, Shelley Zimmerman, Brin Lukens, Jordan Levin, executive producers (Hulu)*

Ramy, Ramy Youssef, Ari Katcher, Ryan Welch, creators; Ramy Youssef, Jerrod Carmichael, Ravi Nandan, Bridget Bedard, Ari Katcher, Ryan Welch, executive producers (Hulu)

Russian Doll, Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland, Amy Poehler, creators; Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland, Amy Poehler, Dave Becky, Tony Hernandez, Lilly Burns, Allison Silverman, executive producers (Netflix)

Tuca & Bertie, Lisa Hanawalt, creator; Lisa Hanawalt, Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Noel Bright, Steven A. Cohen, Tiffany Haddish, Ali Wong, executive producers (Netflix)

Undone, Kate Purdy, Raphael Bob-Waksberg, creators; Kate Purdy, Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Noel Bright, Steven A. Cohen, Tommy Pallotta, executive producers (Amazon Prime Video)

Gotham Audience Award
Marriage Story*

IFP members determined the Gotham Audience Award with nominees comprised of the 15 nominated films in the Best Feature, Best Documentary, and Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award categories.