There was lotsa love at the 17th annual Gotham Awards, held Tuesday night at Brooklyn’s colossal Steiner Studios. Celebrities in attendance included the likes of Javier Bardem (pictured), Laura Linney, Keri Russell, Emile Hirsch, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Meryl Streep, Sean Penn, and Uma Thurman presented. Most appeared genuinely thrilled about celebrating with the Independent Feature Project, as many of their careers were founded on the organization’s account. “My first seminar to learn how to raise money was through the IFP in 1984, it taught me how to raise the money step by step for Salaam Bombay — the IFP is the mother of what made me independent,” honoree director Mira Nair told me.
More red carpet action: Kerry Washington looked beautiful in a jewel-blue structured dress, and she’s a ham. “No, don’t use notes,” she instructed to a reporter, then grabbed her notepad away from her, flailing it above her head: “Now ask me something!” New York native Laura Linney said she didn’t feel weird at all about celebrating the awards at the Brooklyn studio space, where she had recently filmed The Nanny Diaries. And Juno star Ellen Page may only stand at about five feet tall, but she has the presence of a basketball player, commandeering the stage with the authority of someone twice her size and twice her age (she’s 20) when accepting the award for Best Breakthrough Actor.
Page also answered a few of my questions about a rather puzzling-sounding upcoming project, Jack and Diane, a film involving lesbians and werewolves. (Yes, I had to re-read that line too). “The werewolf thing has definitely been over-exaggerated. It really is a beautiful love story about two girls who fall in love. The character that I play happens to have dreams where she turns into a werewolf.” Right-o! Makes perfect sense now.
Page also confesses to being a “massive fan” of honoree JavierBardem. There was much buzz surrounding the hunky Spanish actor, andrightly so. Following his critically-acclaimed performance in the CoenBrothers’ No Country for Old Men the actor is now attached toprojects with the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, and RobMarshall — though Bardem was quick to tell me that “nothing is settledyet.” Also, I’d just like to add that after meeting the actor inperson, I’m convinced Bardem is the sex. He also kindly left mewith the advice “Always listen to AC/DC,” a band which I may or may nothave been listening to nonstop since then.
Anyway, for all stars in attendance, perhaps the most memorablemoment of the evening came when honoree Roger Ebert appeared with hiswife, Chaz. Unable to speak (due to surgery for papillary thyroidcancer), Ebert nonetheless looked fit and healthy, smiling at thecrowd. He waved his trademark thumbs-up sign high. The audience cheeredback. Suffice to say, it was a “Two Thumbs Up” night for all.