Gotham Award Winners: ‘Nomadland’ Wins Best Feature, Riz Ahmed Takes Best Actor

"First Cow," "Nomadland," and "Never Rarely Sometimes Always" are all Best Feature nominees at the 30th Annual Gotham Awards.
sound of metal
"Sound of Metal"

The 2020-21 awards season got its first prominent awards ceremony with the 30th Annual Gotham Awards. Eleven competitive awards were given out to the best films, performances, and television series of the previous year. Feature films with multiple nominees included “First Cow,” “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” “Nomadland,” and “Saint Frances.” All of this year’s Best Feature nominees were films directed by women, a first in the 30-year history of the Gotham Awards.

In addition to the 11 competitive categories, the 30th Gotham Awards awarded five Tribute honors throughout the ceremony, including the late Chadwick Boseman (Actor Tribute, Posthumous), Viola Davis (Actress Tribute), Steve McQueen (Director Tribute), Ryan Murphy (Industry Tribute), and the inaugural Ensemble Tribute to the cast of Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

The first award of the night went to “One Night in Miami” breakout Kingsley Ben-Adir, who appeared on camera from a hotel in London. The actor used his brief acceptance speech to shot out his fellow nominee Sidney Flanigan from “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” calling her performance “superb.” Flanigan won the Best Actress prize earlier this awards season from the New York Critics Circle.

Radha Blank was speechless while accepting the prize for Best Screenplay for her breakout feature “The Forty-Year-Old Version” (“Holy shit, holy shit,” she said at the start of her speech, “I’m kind of shocked”), which tied with Dan Sallitt’s “Fourteen.” The shared Best Screenplay prize was the second tie of the evening after Best Documentary went to “Time” and “A Thousand Cuts.”

In Viola Davis’ Actress Tribute speech, she reflected on the importance of starring in August Wilson adaptation “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” for which she is a frontrunner to land an Oscar nomination. “White people have always made themselves the custodians of the Black experience; well, I’m so honored to be a part of a legacy of autonomy and agency. August Wilson was able to chronicle not only the history of Black America but also able to show you our humanity. How we loved. How we dreamed. How we hoped, how we get mad, our humor. Thank you for recognizing August’s work through me.”

Nicole Kidman appeared during the virtual telecast to honor Industry Tribute recipient Ryan Murphy, saying, “He is talented behind words, a proverbial triple threat: a producer, a writer, and a director for television, film, and the theater…The true heart of Ryan’s work is his ability to highlight all types of people. He has done so for decades now.” Murphy used his speech to urge productions both big and small to continue to create inclusive sets in front of and behind the camera.

The cast of “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” including Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Sacha Baron Cohen, recorded a message cut together from various locations to celebrate their Ensemble Tribute prize. “Half a century after the events of ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7,’ peaceful protestors are again being met with tear gas…political gridlocks continue to plague our own leaders, the echoes have been unmistaken,” the cast’s message said. “If nothing else, this reminds us of the work that still has to be done in bridging the divide. ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ happened then but it’s happening now and it’s destined to keep happening until America lives up to its ideal of liberty and justice for all.”

“12 Years a Slave” Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o honored Director Tribute winner Steve McQueen in a pre-recorded video, saying, “He’s interested in what history and the imagination have to say about who we are…In ‘Small Axe,’ he’s speaking to history but also telling us about his story. The connection between Steve’s story and the larger social context is what makes these films so resonant. They are a timely reminder of what has changed since and, more importantly, what has not. These films inform, educate, inspire, leave us hopeful, sad, and joyful. Only Steve can capture such an alchemy of raw, hybrid emotions.”

Check out the full list of nominees for the 2020 Gotham Awards below.

Best Feature
“The Assistant”
“First Cow”
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
“Nomadland” (WINNER)

Best Documentary
“76 Days”
“City Hall”
“Our Time Machine”
“A Thousand Cuts” (WINNER) – TIE
“Time” (WINNER) – TIE

Best International Feature
“Cuties (Mignonnes)”
“Identifying Features” (WINNER)
“Martin Eden”

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Carlo Mirabella-Davis, “Swallow”
Rhada Blank, “The Forty-Year-Old Version”
Andrew Patterson, “The Vast of Night” (WINNER)
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 (WINNER) – TIE
“Fourteen,” Dan Sallitt (WINNER) – TIE
“The Vast of Night,” James Montague and Craig Sanger

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal” (WINNER)
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” (WINNER)
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” (WINNER)

Breakthrough Series – Long Form (Over 40 Minutes)
“The Great”
“Immigration Nation”
“Watchmen” (WINNER)

Breakthrough Series – Short Form (Under 40 Minutes)
“I May Destroy You” (WINNER)
“Taste the Nation”
“Work in Progress”

Audience Award: “Nomadland”

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