Inside the 2021 Gotham Awards: Kristen Stewart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Squid Game win big

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  • Kristen Stewart
    Kristen Stewart
    American actress
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal
    Maggie Gyllenhaal
    American actress
Kristen Stewart at the Gotham Awards
Kristen Stewart at the Gotham Awards

In New York City’s classic Cipriani restaurant ballroom, a delighted Kristen Stewart received the Gotham Awards Performers Tribute mere minutes after the ceremony began on the night of November 29. Her victory at the 31st IFP Gotham Awards helped kick off the 2021-2022 awards season; one that will probably be generous to Stewart for her ethereal performance in Spencer.

Stewart was handed the trophy by close friend Julianne Moore (who referred to her as “the coolest human on the planet),” and Spencer director Pablo Larraín after a montage of her film roles played for the audience—yes, clips from Twilight were absolutely included. In her speech, the actress thanked Larraín by saying he “made her feel visible.” The A.V. Club had a seat in the GreenSlate Greenroom, as the the winners’ room backstage was called, and Stewart made a quick appearance, hurriedly posing for cameras and calling it a “great honor” to receive the Tribute award.

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The Gotham Awards tend to set the baseline for forthcoming major awards including the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Critics’ Choice Awards, and of course, the Oscars. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter is poised to make waves after winning Best Feature. It was also a double whammy for Gyllenhaal, who bagged trophies for Best Screenplay and Breakthrough Director. The Lost Daughter’s Olivia Colman shared Outstanding Lead Performance with The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain’s Frankie Faison. Colman wasn’t in attendance, but Gyllenhaal and cast members Dakota Johnson and Peter Saarsgard graced the stage and later the winners’ room for a few quick photos. Meanwhile, Emilia Jones and Troy Kotsur scored wins for Apple TV+’s underrated gem Coda.

Netflix’s massively successful Korean drama Squid Game won Breakthrough Series (over 40 minutes), which bodes well for the show’s Emmy prospects. Series creator Hwang Dong-hyuk and cast members Lee Jung-jae and Jung Ho-yeon were present to receive the award, and spent the significant time of all winners backstage, mingling and basking in deserved glory. Jung-jae told The A.V. Club that the team is reveling in the prestigious honor. He was noncommittal about a possible season two, but revealed that filming the show’s final game was emotionally turbulent for him: “The games are dark and unrealistic, but my priority was on how to still make the show feel as convincing as possible.”

(L-R) Lee Jung-jae, Hwang Dong-hyuk, Kim Ji-yeon, Jung Ho-yeon
(L-R) Lee Jung-jae, Hwang Dong-hyuk, Kim Ji-yeon, Jung Ho-yeon

The A.V. Club was also at the red carpet as attendees sped through, but the energy was electric and discernible. Zola helmer Janicza Bravo, The Queen’s Gambit’s Moses Ingram, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Marin Hinkle all echoed sentiments of the thrill of being at in-person gathering to celebrate film and TV again. Double nominee Michael Greyeyes (Rutherford Falls, Wild Indian) told The A.V. Club that “It felt like we were slumbering, so to have this moment where we’re together again celebrating different voices, in this case Indigenous voices that have been neglected, means a lot to me personally.”

Speaking of which, FX on Hulu’s Reservation Dogs won the Breakthrough Series (under 40 minutes) award. Series co-creator Sterlin Harjo and star Devery Jacobs spoke in the winners’ room of how the recognition validated their show’s existence, and a need for diverse Native American stories onscreen. Jacobs also revealed to The A.V. Club on the red carpet that she has joined the writers’ room for season two.

The Underground Railroad’s Thuso Mbedu and The Good Lord Bird’s Ethan Hawke shared the Best Performer in a New Series award. While Mbedu wasn’t present, Hawke expressed pride in sharing the trophy with her in Gotham’s genderless acting categories, a first for the show. Hawke also presented a Tribute award to his friend of 30 years, Peter Dinklage, who stars in the upcoming Cyrano. In his buoyant introduction of the Emmy-winning Game Of Thrones star, Hawke said “If he was British, he would be called a Knight, but he’s an American, so he’s a national treasure.” The two garnered heavy applause and shared several laughs backstage in the winners’ room.

Peter Dinklage and Ethan Hawke
Peter Dinklage and Ethan Hawke

The night’s winners also included documentary feature Flee, a jury ensemble award for the cast of The Harder They Fall. Power Of The Dog’s Jane Campion was the recipient of the Director’s Tribute, presented by Mark Ruffalo. Also in attendance were fellow nominees Jennifer Coolidge, Marlee Matlin, Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, Rebecca Hall, and Taylour Paige. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg justified his appearance with an attempt at a joke: “My resume speaks for itself,” after which he cited his cameos on The Good Wife, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and a deleted part in the Sex And The City movie.

Here’s the complete list of winners. Keep an eye out for The A.V. Club’s exclusive portrait studio images of the Gotham Awards attendees on the site today.

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