30th annual Gotham Awards, hybrid due to COVID pandemic, offer 1st peek at potential Oscar picks

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- There are so many awards shows these days, but one that takes place in New York City has stood the test of time -- and independent filmmakers and stars will once again gather Monday for the 30th annual Gotham Awards.

The ceremony was delayed for a couple of months by the coronavirus pandemic, which also forced changes in the format.

This year's event at Cipriani Wall Street will be what organizers are calling a "hybrid format" to conform with COVID-19 health and safety protocols. But the show must and will go on, which is good news for films and filmmakers hoping to compete for Oscar's attention.

Before "Marriage Story" earned half a dozen Oscar nominations, it was called the Best Feature of 2019 at the Gotham Awards.

"Because we're in that pole position, we're the first awards show of the season, we really do have an important role in really elevating and promoting those independent films that have been highlights of the most recent year," Executive Director Jeffrey Sharp said.

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"Nomadland," starring Frances McDormand, has already become part of the Oscar conversation. In fact, the picture won four awards from the National Society of Film Critics on Saturday January 9, including best picture.

At the Gotham Awards, it competes against "Relic," "Never Rarely Sometimes Always," "First Cow," and "The Assistant." Sharp notes that all five of those films were directed by women.

"That's the first time that's ever happened at the Gothams," he said.

This year's Gotham show is also unprecedented because it will look and sound a lot different than in previous years.

"What people are going to miss the most are the martinis," Sharp said.

Where hundreds normally gather, there will be but a handful.

"Which is a very skeletal crew and a very stripped down group of half a dozen presenters who will present the awards," Sharp said. "The nominees and all the industry and guests will be in the virtual world."

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For him, challenging times have made the event honoring independent films more important than ever before.

"Theaters were closed, festivals were not really operating in their normal capacity, and so audiences don't really know what films they should be paying attention to this year," he said. "And our hope and expectation is that the Gothams will help them."

To watch the show, log on to the parent organization's Facebook page.

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