nomadland

Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

I have a theory. Awards seasons are designed to disappoint us: 1) The status quo is easy; 2) Disappointment breeds angry hot takes on Twitter, and angry hot takes are good as gold in the internet era; 3) Oscar-baiting is an easy game to play when you’ve got the power (and money) to do it. Just look at last year’s Academy Award nominations: Sixty-six percent of the Best Picture nominees were about white men; no women directors earned a nod; and one person of color out of 20 was nominated for an acting award. This follows a simplistic, fixed pattern that dates back far beyond 2020, in every accolade from the Golden Globes to the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Netflix, Sony and Disney—studios with the big bucks—led the Oscar nominations in 2020. It would be shocking if 2021 were to differ in any exceptional way.

Except…it might. On November 12, the IFP Gotham Awards announced its nominees, and for the first time in history, women directed every one of the nominees for best feature: The Assistant, directed by Kitty Green; First Cow, directed by Kelly Reichardt; Never Rarely Sometimes Always, directed by Eliza Hittman; Nomadland, directed by Chloé Zhao; and Relic, directed by Natalie Erika James.

Gotham isn’t likely to be the harbinger of ultimate change for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, given its relatively low spot on the totem pole of awards ceremonies leading up to the Oscars. And, of course, Gotham is naturally inclined to celebrate indie darlings, unlike the Oscars, which tend to bend toward bigger productions. But such a clear sweep by women directors sends a bright flare into the sky, a signal of what needs immediate attention.

Women and people of color are making incredible movies. Might the time have come to break with the status quo, and get those angry hot takes burning about something other than seats full of men and #OscarsSoWhite? Might it be time we aren’t so disappointed?

Gotham Award winners will be announced on January 11, 2021. Here are the rest of the nominees:

Best Feature

  • The Assistant
  • First Cow
  • Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  • Nomadland
  • Relic

    Best Documentary

    • City Hall
    • Our Time Machine
    • 76 Days
    • A Thousand Cuts
    • Time

      Best International Feature

      • Identifying Features
      • Wolfwalkers
      • Bacurau
      • Beanpole
      • Cuties (Mignonnes)
      • Martin Eden

        Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award

        • Channing Godfrey Peoples, Miss Juneteenth
        • Radha Blank, The Forty-Year-Old Version
        • Carlo Mirabella-Davis, Swallow
        • Andrew Patterson, The Vast of Night
        • Alex Thompson, Saint Frances

          Best Screenplay

          • Fourteen
          • Bad Education
          • First Cow
          • The Forty-Year-Old Version
          • The Vast of Night

            Best Actor

            • John Magaro, First Cow
            • Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
            • Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
            • Jude Law, The Nest
            • Jesse Plemons, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

              Best Actress

              • Nicole Beharie, Miss Juneteenth
              • Carrie Coon, The Nest
              • Jessie Buckley, I’m Thinking of Ending Things
              • Frances McDormand, Nomadland
              • Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari

                Breakthrough Actor

                • Jasmine Batchelor, The Surrogate
                • Kelly O’Sullivan, Saint Frances
                • Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami…
                • Sidney Flanigan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
                • Orion Lee, First Cow

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