Charles Melton, Lily Gladstone and ‘Past Lives’ Get Oscar Boosts at Gotham Awards

Charles Melton, Lily Gladstone and ‘Past Lives’ Get Oscar Boosts at Gotham Awards

Movies

The Gotham Awards brought the usual array of surprises this year, and it wasn’t only about who walked away with the trophies.

Aside from the uproar over Robert De Niro’s speech (which is unlikely to have much bearing on the awards campaign for “Killers of the Flower Moon”), some of the other top contenders gained significant traction leading up to a crucial week ahead. New York Film Critics Circle’s announcement of the year’s best films and performances unfurls Thursday, while Golden Globes voting in the film categories started Tuesday.

At the forefront of Gothams buzz-boosters is breakout sensation Charles Melton, earning the best supporting performance award for his role in Netflix’s “May December.” In Todd Haynes’ black comedy, Melton portrays Joe Yoo, a young man navigating his marriage to an older woman, a role that stands out alongside Oscar winners Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) and Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”). It’s quite an achievement, considering the esteemed company he shared the screen with.

This win, marking the third year of gender-neutral acting categories at the Gothams, holds significance for a singular reason: It showed that Ryan Gosling’s comedic brilliance in “Barbie” may not be quite “Kenough” for recognition — at least with this select group of five jury members.

Witnessing the enthusiastic applause for Melton’s win hints at the emergence of a potential critical darling this season, with the potential to sweep multiple awards from regional and major critic organizations. My bet is on both Gosling and Melton dominating regional awards, with the Oscar winner likely hingeing on televised ceremonies like BAFTA, Critics Choice, Golden Globes and SAG. It’ll also depend on their respective movies’ overall performance with the Academy.

Warner Bros’ “Barbie,” honored with a Gotham tribute for Greta Gerwig’s writing and directing and Margot Robbie’s producing and starring role, seems destined for a healthy nom tally from the Academy. This will undoubtedly bolster Gosling’s prospects.

Netflix’s “May December,” acquired by the streamer post-Cannes, is eyeing categories like best picture, actress (Portman), supporting actor, supporting actress (Moore), and original screenplay (Samy Burch). Falling short in any of those categories might hinder Melton, a relatively unknown contender, from appealing to the nearly 10,000 global AMPAS voters.

It’s worth noting that the past two winners of the Gotham supporting performance prize — Ke Huy Quan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) and Troy Kotsur (“CODA”) — both clinched the Academy Award. Interestingly, only Quan emerged as the “darling” in his respective season, with Kotsur trailing behind fellow Oscar nominee Kodi Smit McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”).

John Magaro and Greta Lee in “Past Lives” Jon Pack

A24’s Korean American love story “Past Lives,” bagged the coveted best feature award — a crucial win for Celine Song’s debut. It was looking grim for a little while for A24 during the night. Despite setbacks like losing the Breakthrough Director prize to A.V. Rockwell’s “A Thousand and One” and “The Zone of Interest” falling short in major categories against Justine Triet’s “Anatomy of a Fall,” both featuring Sandra Hüller, the victory came as a lifeline for the indie studio at the 11th hour.

After its early summer release, Song’s mesmerizing debut garnered critical acclaim but faces concerns of being “too small” for Oscar attention. Remember, each Gotham category is decided by different sets of five industry professionals, so every win (and loss) needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

As for Neon’s “Anatomy of a Fall,” its Academy trajectory remains hard to gauge during these early speculation days. Despite “Anatomy” clinching the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes, France opted for “The Taste of Things” for its entry for the international feature category at the Oscars. Nevertheless, Neon’s vigorous awards campaign and its dual trophies (the only two-time winner of the night) could sway voter attention.

Courtesy of Music Box Films

Lily Gladstone, a frontrunner for best actress in Apple’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” snagged the leading performance category, but for her work in Music Box’s indie “The Unknown Country.” Her victory, though for a less-heralded project, serves as an opportunity to showcase her talent and captivate a room — an advantage that will work in her favor down the line.

When “Four Daughters” director Kaouther Ben Hania received the documentary award, she adeptly seized the moment. She highlighted her film’s representing Tunisia in the international feature category, urging voters to give it a chance. Only three movies have been nominated for both doc and international feature categories —“Honeyland” (2020), “Collective” (2021), and “Flee” (2022). Ben Hania’s previous movie, the drama “The Man Who Sold His Skin” (2020), was nominated for international feature.

The next destination on this awards journey: NYFCC. Brace yourselves for the ride.

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