The annual celebration of indie films kicking off the vibrant awards season every year gets more glamorous, honoring the outstanding and risk-taking films that are going to make it to Oscars -- like Boyhood and Birdman, as well as those that are just great, like Laura Poitra documentary Citizenfour, Ira Sachs' Love is Strange, Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin, and other exceptional films that do not fit any Hollywood formula. This week at Cipriani Wall Street, the sponsor Calvin Klein's Euphoria embellished the stage, the fragrance's name perhaps a metaphor for the high spirits: Bennett Miller was feted alongside Ted Sarandos and Tilda Swinton, the crowd of film insiders included Rene Russo in a French twist, and Scarlett Johansen in a short, smart do -- it was decidedly downtown and chic.
Some highlights included Marisa Tomei practicing her pronunciation of director Alejandro Inarritu's name, focused on getting the accent on the second syllable. Catherine Keener introducing Bennett Miller who lived with her for two years, revealing maybe TMI but also his secret strategy as a brilliant filmmaker: he plays chess, and he'll beat any opponent, not giving even a kid a break. Amy Schumer introduced Tilda "f-ing" Swinton as a great "hang." Moderated by Uma Thurman, the ceremony went swiftly forward without a snag.
Presenting the very last award for Best Feature, Jon Hamm pointed out that the awards were named after him, as in Got-Hamm. (Michael Keaton had already quipped that it was good to be in Gotham again.) A jurist for that final prize which went to Birdman, the Mad Men star explained, "Jen--[as in Jennifer Westfeldt]-- and I have been involved with independent film for many years and to actually be a part of awarding them is special. Jen was on the jury awarding young filmmakers the 'Live the Dream' grant. [Chloe Zhao won for Songs My Brothers Taught Me] I was making jokes in my speech but I thought it was an incredibly disparate group of films this year, [Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Love is Strange, Under the Skin]; there was no one standout for me: they are all individual works of art and that's why we have the independent film community."
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.