NEW YORK — “Everything Everywhere All at Once” won best feature film Monday at the 32nd Gotham Awards, taking home one of the first major awards of the Hollywood awards season and boosting Oscar expectations for the anarchist indie hit of the year.
Ke Huy Quan, the child star from ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’ who made a lauded comeback in ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, also won the award for his work on the film, winning Best Supporting Actor.
“Last year around this time, all I was hoping was for a job,” said an emotional Quan who nearly gave up acting before landing his part in the film. “For the first time in a long time, I was given a second chance.”
Held annually at 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 the Gotham Film & Media Institute, the Gothams picked up awards for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter” last year, while also starting “CODA” on its way to best picture with an award for Troy Kotsur.
But potential clout aside, the Gothams are also just another star-studded party that is propelling the industry back into awards season. Last year’s ceremony was the first completely in-person awards ceremony for many after a largely virtual 2020-2021 pandemic season. This year’s Gothams was held amid growing concerns about lukewarm box office results for many of the top prize contenders. While moviegoing has recaptured much of the ground it lost during the pandemic, adult audiences have been inconsistent in cinemas this fall.
But by congratulating “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” the metaverse-skipping action-adventure directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheiner, the film duo known as “the Daniels,” the Gothams opted for an unlikely runaway success. Released in March, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” made more than $100 million worldwide against a $14 million budget, making it A24’s highest-grossing film. The warm affection for the absurdist film has now led him to may end up playing the underdog at the Oscars.The film also recently led nominations for the Film Independent Spirit Awards.
“This movie has been celebrated by the Asian-American community, by the immigrant community, by people with weird brains, people who are overwhelmed or sad,” Scheiner said when accepting the award with his film partner. “This award is for you. Your stories matter. You Matter.”
While the Gothams are known for elevating the hardscrabble pursuit of lower budget films, one of the many tribute awards went to another box office unit in Adam Sandler. The 56-year-old actor-comedian, who this year starred in the critically acclaimed Netflix basketball drama comedy “Hustle,” delivered the rauciest speech of the night, following an introduction by “Uncut Gems” filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie.
Sandler, explaining that he had been too busy to prepare remarks, claimed his speech was written by his two daughters. His career, as he read, began with two guiding principles: “People in prison need movies too” and, “TBS needs content.”
The Gotham Prize, Sandler read, “means a lot to him, since most of the prizes on his trophy shelf are in the form of popcorn buckets, blimps, or fake mini-Oscars with the text Father of the Year, which he unfortunately bought himself while he was in a self-wondered pitying fog through the headshops of Time’s Square.”
The Gothams are giving out gender-neutral acting awards, which meant that some award favorites this year who wouldn’t normally compete against each other, such as Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”) and Cate Blanchett (“Tár”), are going head-to-head. Todd Fields’ “Tár,” starring Blanchett as a renowned conductor, entered the Gothams with five leading nominations and took home an award for Fields’s screenplay.
But ‘Till’ star Danielle Deadwyler ended up winning in the overcrowded starring category. Deadwyler, who plays Mamie Till-Bradley in the piercing 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, who is best known as the child star of “The Goonies” and “Temple of Doom.”
The Breakthrough Director award went to Charlotte Wells for ‘Aftersun’, the Scottish filmmaker’s tender, devastating debut about a father (Paul Mescal) and daughter (Frankie Corio) on vacation. “Aftersun” also got a shoutout from Daniel Kwan who said “Aftersun” should have won best feature film, not “Everything Everywhere All at Once”.
Steven Spielberg was due to pay tribute to Michelle Williams, the star of Spielberg’s ‘The Fabelmans’. Williams’ co-star Paul Dano, who said Spielberg tested positive for COVID-19, filled in. about how instrumental “Dawson’s Creek” co-star Mary Beth Peil was to her as a young actor. Williams was also visibly stunned by a standing ovation.
“What is happening?” said Williams wide-eyed. “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 1963 France, gained additional relevance after the United States’ withdrawal of Roe v. Wade. “All Those Breathes”, Shaunak Sen’s film about a bird hospital in New Dehli, won best documentary.
Tributes also included Focus Features’ Peter Kujawski and Jason Cassidy, and a thunderous tribute to the late Sidney Poitier by Jonathan Majors, who announced a new initiative on behalf of Poitier to help young filmmakers. “Bravo, Mr. Poitier,” Majors said. “We’re behind you.”
Gina Prince-Bythewood, filmmaker of “The Woman King”, was also honored after being introduced by Katheryn Bigelow. Prince-Bythewood said the filmmaker of “Hurt Locker” inspired her to believe she could be a director. “Kathryn was my potential,” said Prince Bythewood.
“When you see the ‘The Woman King’ trailer, do you see incredible women or do you see others? Do you see incredible women to be inspired by or do you see others?” said Prince-Bythewood. “I want you to see yourself in my characters as I see myself in yours.”
Follow AP film writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP