Gothams give virtual start to Oscar season, Nomadland wins

The 30th Gotham Awards gave a very strange Oscar season a virtual start Monday in a largely digital ceremony that crowned Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland the best film of 2020.

The show streamed from an empty banquet hall, with acceptance speeches made from living rooms.

As the first prominent award show to go forward during the pandemic, the Gotham Awards took a trial-and-error approach to mounting a show that couldn’t include the usual trappings of the annual independent film awards: a flashy red carpet, free-flowing cocktails, standing ovations.

The Gothams nevertheless went ahead with a ceremony from its usual home of Wall Street Cipriani’s in downtown Manhattan, albeit without an in-person audience and with only a handful of presenters.

The results weren’t always smooth, but they were typical of a pandemic that has made any large gatherings — let alone glitzy ones like the Gothams — impossible.

Zhao’s Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand as an itinerant widow living in her van, was the sensation of a similarly pandemic-marred film festival season, winning top honours at the Venice and Toronto film festivals, along with best picture from the National Society of Film Critics.

Nomadland won both best feature and the Gothams’ audience award.

All of the films nominated for best feature were directed by women, including lead-nominee getter First Cow, by Kelly Reichardt.

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