NEW YORK — “Everything Everywhere All at Once” took home Best Feature Film at the 32nd annual Gotham Awards on Monday, winning one of the first major awards of Hollywood’s awards season and boosting Oscar hopes for the anarchic indie hit of the year.
Also recognized for his work on the film was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom child star Ke Huy Quan, who made an acclaimed comeback in All At Once and won Best Supporting Actor.
“This time last year I was just hoping for a job,” said an emotional Quan, who almost gave up acting before landing his part in the film. “For the first time in a very long time, I got a second chance.”
Held annually on Cipriani Wall Street, the Gotham Awards serve as a celebration of downtown independent film and an unofficial kick-off to the long marathon of ceremonies, cocktail parties and campaigns leading up to the Academy Awards in March. Presented by Gotham Film & Media Institute last year, the Gothams racked up awards for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter, while kicking off CODA on the road to best picture with an award for Troy Kotsur.
But aside from every possible influence, Gothams is just another star-studded party that’s getting the industry back into the swing of awards season. Last year’s awards show was, for many, the first fully in-person awards show following a largely virtual, pandemic-hit 2020-2021 season. That year, the Gothams were held amid growing concerns about tepid box office results for many of the top contenders for the award. Though moviegoing has regained much of the ground it lost during the pandemic, adult audiences have unevenly materialized in theaters this fall.
But the Gothams chose an unlikely breakthrough with Everything Everywhere All at Once, the Metaverse-skipping action-adventure directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheiner, filmmaking duo The Daniels. Released in March, Everything Everywhere All at Once has grossed more than $100 million worldwide on a budget of $14 million, making it A24’s highest-grossing film. The heartfelt affection for the absurd film makes it now poised to possibly underdog at the Oscars.The film also recently garnered nominations for the Film Independent Spirit Awards.
“This film was celebrated by the Asian American community, by the immigrant community, by people with weird brains, by people who are overwhelmed or sad,” Scheiner said upon accepting the award with his filmmaking partner. “This award is for you. Your stories matter. You are important.”
While the Gothams are known for glorifying the hard drive for low-budget movies, one of their many tributes went to another box office power in Adam Sandler. The 56-year-old actor-comedian – who starred in hit Netflix basketball-drama-comedy Hustle this year – delivered the loudest speech of the night after an introduction by Uncut Gems filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie.
Sandler, who stated that he had been too busy to prepare remarks, claimed his speech was written by his two daughters. His career, he read, began with two guiding principles: “People in prison need movies, too” and “TBS needs content.”
The Gotham award, Sandler read, “means a lot to him as most of the awards on his trophy rack are shaped like popcorn buckets, airships, or fake mini Oscars that say Father of the Year, which he sadly bought himself while he was… wondering about himself – pitiful fog through the head shops of Time’s Square.”
The Gothams give out gender-neutral acting awards, which meant that some award favorites that year who wouldn’t normally compete, like Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”) and Cate Blanchett (“Tár”), competed in Todd Fields’ “Tár” with Renowned conductor Blanchett came to Gothams with five leading nominations and walked away with an award for the screenplay from Fields.
But “Till” star Danielle Deadwyler finally prevailed in the fully occupied main actor category. Deadwyler, who plays Mamie Till-Bradley in the haunting drama, was unable to attend the ceremony. “Till” director Chinonye Chukwu accepted on her behalf.
Deadwyler’s win should boost her Oscar chances, as should the award for Quan, best known as a child star from The Goonies and Temple of Doom.
The Breakthrough Directing Award went to Charlotte Wells for ‘Aftersun,’ the Scottish filmmaker’s tender, harrowing debut about a father (Paul Mescal) and daughter (Frankie Corio) on holiday. “Aftersun” was also praised by Daniel Kwan, who said “Aftersun” should have won Best Picture, not “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
Steven Spielberg should introduce a tribute award for Michelle Williams, star of Spielberg’s The Fabelmans. Williams’ co-star Paul Dano, who said Spielberg had tested positive for COVID-19, filled in. Williams spent much of her speech reflecting on how instrumental Dawson’s Creek co-star Mary Beth Peil was to her as a young actress.” Williams was also visibly overwhelmed by the standing ovation.
“What’s happening?” said a wide-eyed Williams. “I shouldn’t even be out of the house. I just had a baby.”
Other winners included Audrey Diwan’s Happening for Best International Feature Film. The French abortion drama, set in France in 1963, won after Roe v. Wade in the United States of importance a bird hospital in New Delhi, picked up the best documentary.
Honorary honorees also included Focus Features’ Peter Kujawski and Jason Cassidy, as well as a thunderous tribute to the late Sidney Poitier from Jonathan Majors, who announced a new initiative on Poitier’s behalf to help young filmmakers. “Well done, Mr. Poitier,” Majors said. “We’ve got your back.”
Gina Prince-Bythewood, filmmaker of The Woman King, was also honored after being introduced by Katheryn Bigelow. Prince-Bythewood said the Hurt Locker filmmaker inspired her to think she could become a director. “Kathryn was my opportunity,” said Prince-Bythewood.
“When you see the trailer for ‘The Woman King,’ do you see incredible women or do you see others? Do you see incredible women to draw inspiration from, or do you see others?” said Prince-Bythewood. “I want you to see yourself in my characters the same way I see myself in yours.”
Follow AP film writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP