Gotham Awards 2018: ‘The Rider’ was the real favorite, while ‘Eighth Grade’ and ‘First Reformed’ prevailed twice

In a way, surprises are no surprise at the Gotham Awards, where winners in most categories are decided by juries of just a handful of industry insiders, with different juries for different categories. But even still it was a bit of a shock when Chloe Zhao‘s critically acclaimed but relatively under-the-radar “The Rider” won Best Feature at the November 26 ceremony over high-profile awards contenders like “The Favourite,” “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “First Reformed.” See the complete list of Gotham winners here.

“The Rider” had no other nominations at this event except the Audience Award, whose contenders simply consisted of all the nominees for Best Feature, Best Documentary and Breakthrough Director (that prize went to the Fred Rogers doc “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”). This was its first big splash of the awards season, though it did pick up four Independent Spirit Award nominations last year including Best Feature before its US theatrical release.

But the biggest winners of the night were “Eighth Grade” and “First Reformed,” both of which prevailed twice. “Eighth Grade” won both breakthrough awards it was up for: Breakthrough Actor (Elsie Fisher) and Breakthrough Director (Bo Burnham). And “First Reformed” claimed Best Actor (Ethan Hawke) and Best Screenplay (Paul Schrader). Those two films also cleaned up in this year’s Spirit nominations, where they’re both up for Best Feature.

Though the juries who decide the Gotham winners are much too small a sample to indicate the direction of the motion picture academy, winning these early kudos could put these smaller films on the map as voting for later awards takes place over the coming weeks and months.

That might be especially good news for Toni Collette (“Hereditary”), who won Best Actress over Glenn Close (“The Wife”). Close is looking to finally win her first Oscar, but she is facing stiff competition not just from Collette, but also Lady Gaga (“A Star is Born”), Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”) and more.

What did you think of the Gotham winners? Will they get a boost as awards season intensifies, or will these kudos not have a significant impact on the Oscar conversation going forward?

Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on January 22.

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