Oscar Momentum Grows for Charles Melton, Lily Gladstone, and ‘Past Lives’ After Gotham Awards Recognition

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The recent Gotham Awards brought a whirlwind of surprises, sparking discussions beyond just the trophy winners. While Robert De Niro’s speech caused some commotion (unlikely to affect “Killers of the Flower Moon” in the awards race), the attention shifted to other contenders making waves before a pivotal week ahead. With the New York Film Critics Circle’s announcement of the year’s best films and performances approaching, along with Golden Globes voting in full swing, the anticipation and speculation about potential winners have intensified.

One of the primary buzz generators from the Gothams is the rise of breakout star Charles Melton, securing the best supporting performance award for his portrayal in Netflix’s “May December.” His role in Todd Haynes’ dark comedy opposite Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore stands out remarkably, considering the esteemed company he shared on screen.

This win, marking the third year of gender-neutral acting categories at the Gothams, holds significance. Notably, it showcased Charles Melton’s prowess while hinting that Ryan Gosling’s comedic brilliance in “Barbie” might not have resonated as strongly with the select group of jury members.

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The enthusiastic reception for Melton’s win points to a potential critical darling this season, poised to sweep awards from both regional and major critic organizations. Expectations lean toward both Gosling and Melton dominating regional accolades, while the Oscars may pivot on televised ceremonies such as BAFTA, Critics Choice, Golden Globes, and SAG, in addition to their respective movies’ overall performance with the Academy.

Warner Bros’ “Barbie,” honored at the Gothams for Greta Gerwig’s writing and directing along with Margot Robbie’s producing and starring role, is set to garner several nominations from the Academy. This recognition will undeniably boost Gosling’s chances in the awards race.

Netflix’s “May December,” acquired post-Cannes, eyes multiple Oscar categories like best picture, actress (Portman), supporting actor (Melton), supporting actress (Moore), and original screenplay (Samy Burch). However, falling short in any of these categories might affect Melton’s appeal to the nearly 10,000 global AMPAS voters due to his relative obscurity in the race.

Interestingly, the past two Gotham supporting performance winners, Ke Huy Quan and Troy Kotsur, both won the Academy Award. However, only Quan emerged as the primary favorite in his respective season, while Kotsur lagged behind fellow Oscar nominee Kodi Smit McPhee.

A24’s “Past Lives,” a Korean American love story winning the coveted best feature award at the Gothams, proved to be a crucial win for Celine Song’s debut. Although the night had its setbacks for A24, this victory served as a lifeline for the indie studio.

Despite early acclaim, concerns loom about “Past Lives” being “too small” for Oscar attention, considering each Gotham category’s distinct industry professional jury. Similarly, Neon’s “Anatomy of a Fall,” despite winning the Palme d’Or, faces ambiguity regarding its Academy trajectory after France’s selection of a different film for the Oscars’ international feature category.

Lily Gladstone, anticipated for her role in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” clinched the leading performance category for her work in Music Box’s indie “The Unknown Country.” While less heralded, her win serves as an opportunity to showcase her talent, likely benefiting her future prospects.

Director Kaouther Ben Hania, honored with the documentary award for “Four Daughters,” seized the moment to advocate for her film’s representation of Tunisia in the international feature category. This strategic plea aims to secure recognition in both documentary and international feature categories, a feat achieved by only three movies to date.

As the awards journey progresses, the spotlight now turns to the NYFCC, setting the stage for an exhilarating ride ahead in the film awards season.