‘Moonlight’ Makes a Strong Showing at the Gotham Awards


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The “Moonlight” team, including, from left, Mahershala Ali, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monáe, Barry Jenkins, Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Ashton Sanders and Jaden Piner, accepting the Gotham Award for best feature.

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Jemal Countess/Getty Images

“Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins’s celebrated, intimate portrait of a gay youngster growing up in a drug-ridden Miami neighborhood, rode into the awards season on a wave of momentum Monday night, scooping up four Gotham Awards, including best feature.

“It’s a tough film, with a bit of hope in it,” Mr. Jenkins told the Bagger as celebrators and journalists swirled around him, offering hugs and congratulations after the show. “I love that people come out of it with a sense of hope. Whatever we did, it’s getting into people, and they see themselves in it.”

Held at Cipriani Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, the star-studded Gothams — attendees included Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Janelle Monáe and a delightfully potty-mouthed Danny DeVito — signal the beginning of the movie awards season.

The prizes for “Moonlight” — it also won best screenplay, best ensemble and the audience award — firm up early forecasts that it would be a strong player in the awards race this year. Though the Gothams are not necessarily predictive of the Oscars, its winners for best feature from the previous two years, “Birdman” and “Spotlight,” went on to receive the Academy Award for best picture.

Other awardees included Ezra Edelman, who won best documentary for the multipart “O.J.: Made in America,” and Casey Affleck, best actor for “Manchester by the Sea.”

“It feels really good, I got to say,” Mr. Affleck, who is famously fame averse, said while clutching his award onstage. “I didn’t think I’d care this much.”

Best actress went to a clearly shocked Isabelle Huppert, who won for “Elle.”

“I’m stunned. I’m breathless,” Ms. Huppert said, as the room cheered. “They told me it’s a very American award. A very New Yorker award. And ‘You are French, so you probably won’t get it.’ ”

Not surprisingly, given the crowd and the host, Keegan-Michael Key, the evening was heavily laced with references — overt, sly, heartfelt and arch — to President-elect Donald J. Trump.

“Here’s some silver lining: Thank God he isn’t going to live here,” Mr. Key said in his introduction.

Oliver Stone, who collected a tribute award, urged up-and-coming filmmakers to risk being critical of their government, if they saw fit. “Don’t go easy on what you think is wrong,” Mr. Stone said. “The surveillance state, ‘1984,’ cyberwarfare, drone warfare, is with us. This is a major, major issue of our time. I hope you young people will address it.”

After Mr. Stone returned to his seat, Mr. Key jokingly pitched him film ideas from the stage. “How about ‘JFKKK’?” Mr. Key asked. “No? What about ‘Wall Tweet’?” Later, presenting the audience award, the actor Damien Lewis noted how the voting process worked. “This is the best part,” Mr. Lewis said. “The film that receives the most votes is the winner. It’s a brilliant idea.”

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