Papal power: ‘The Two Popes’ tops Hamptons Film Festival by winning the Audience Award

Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins got more than divine intervention at the 27th Hamptons Film Festival, they got the audience’s blessing.

Netflix’s “The Two Popes” took top honors as the HIFF Audience winner at the festival, which ran from October 10-14. It was joined by two docs as fan faves over the long holiday weekend. “Popes” star Pryce even made a surprise appearance at a screening Sunday night, telling the sold-out crowd, “It’s pretty cool to play the pope. I was nervous at first. I wanted to be honest to the man. I look a bit like him. The uncanny thing is I walk like him anyway. He has a dodgy hip and I have a dodgy knee.”

Pryce said he was in awe of his co-star and fellow countryman Hopkins, who played Pope Benedict XVI. And that helped Pryce’s performance as the real-life Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was about to be ordained for an even higher job as Pope Francis. “We’re both Welshmen, so I’ve grown up with him in my sights as someone I wanted to work with. He’s an extraordinary actor. Tony knows exactly what he’s doing. And of course this played perfectly into the film. I had a feeling of awe toward Tony. I was nervous about how this kind of film — two old men talking for two hours — would be received. But it allows people to laugh.”

Other films that unspooled at the fest included “Ford v Ferrari,” “The Irishman,” “Parasite,” “Marriage Story” and “Clemency.” The last of those stars Alfre Woodard as a prison warden. She was also on hand for the festivities and explained how she met with real wardens and toured several prisons to prepare for her role. However, she avoids watching other films as preparation: “I don’t watch other performances to inform my own. I want to do something original. That’s the challenge.”

Another challenge? The mixed reactions to the satirical dark comedy “Jojo Rabbit.” Several audience members walked out during the Saturday evening screening. Some saw the Hitler hijinks as antisemitic.

And the evolution of film distribution was addressed at a panel discussion of independent filmmakers. For instance, asked whether the next generation of directors will have to shoot knowing their work could be seen on a smaller screen, Austin-based documentarian Ivette Lucas, who was at Hamptons with her feature “Pahokee,” said she ultimately doesn’t care “if people see my films on an iPhone as long as they are seeing them.”

Then came the final results. Said HamptonsFilm Artistic Director David Nugent, “We are thrilled to announce this year’s audience award winners. Filmgoers were captivated by the dynamic performances and historic moments in religious history of ‘The Two Popes,’ the exploration of extraordinary neurologist and storyteller Oliver Sacks in ‘Oliver Sacks: His Own Life,’ and the gripping recount of the terrifying wildfires in Butte County, California in ‘Fire in Paradise.’ We are proud to have screened all the films in this year’s program for our audiences out East and share such a strong slate of cinema.”

See the full list of winners below.

The HIFF Audience Award Winner for Narrative Feature
THE TWO POPES, directed by Fernando Meirelles

The HIFF Audience Award Winner for Documentary Feature
OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE, directed by Ric Burns

The HIFF Audience Award Winner for Short
FIRE IN PARADISE, directed by Drea Cooper & Zackary Canepari

Zicherman Family Foundation Screenwriting Award
Trey Edward Shults, writer and director of WAVES

The HIFF Award Winner for Best Narrative Feature
A WHITE, WHITE DAY, directed by Hlynur Pálmason

HIFF Award Winner for Best Documentary Feature
OVERSEAS, directed by Sung-a Yoon

The HIFF Award Winner for Best Narrative Short Film
JUST ME AND YOU, directed by Sandrine Brodeur-Desrosiers

The HIFF Award Winner for Best Documentary Short Film
GHOSTS OF SUGAR LAND, directed by Bassam Tariq

Special Cinematography Award
Miguel Ioann Litten Menz for THE VAST OF NIGHT

Breakthrough Achievement in Filmmaking Award
THE BEST OF DORIEN B., directed by Anke Blondé

Special Jury Mentions for Acting Performances
Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir for IN A WHITE, WHITE DAY
Mama Sane in ATLANTICS
Corinna Harfouch in LARA
Kim Snauwaert in THE BEST OF DORIEN B.
Sierra McCormick in THE VAST OF NIGHT

Special Jury Prize for Artistic Vision
CUNNINGHAM, directed by Alla Kovgan

Special Jury Prize for Indomitable Spirit of Storytelling
TALKING ABOUT TREES, directed by Suhaib Gasmelbari

Special Jury Prize for Originality
ALL CATS ARE GREY IN THE DARK, directed by Lasse Linder

Special Jury Prize for Creative Filmmaking
THE NIGHTCRAWLERS, directed by Alexander A. Mora

The 2019 Brizzolara Family Foundation Award to Films of Conflict and Resolution
FOR SAMA, directed by Waad al- Kateab and Edward Watts

Suffolk County Next Exposure Grant
THE ARTIST’S WIFE, directed by Tom Dolby

The Zelda Penzel “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” Award
WATSON, directed by Lesley Chilcott

Victor Rabinowitz and Joanne Grant Award for Social Justice
CONSCIENCE POINT, directed by Treva Wurmfeld

University Short Film Awards
BIRCH, directed by Paisley Valentine Walsh
THE BOXERS OF BRULE, directed by Jessie Adler
FINE, directed by Maya Yadlin
PERFECT MOMENT, directed by Matthew Noydens

Lifetime Achievement Award
Brian De Palma

The Dick Cavett Artistic Champion Award
Toni Ross

2019 Breakthrough Artists
Aldis Hodge, Camila Morrone, Lulu Wang

Be sure to make your Oscar nominee predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on January 13. And join in the fun debate over the 2020 Academy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

More News from GoldDerby