By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 1, 2009 at 3:52AM
It was predictable that The Hurt Locker would dominate the Gothams, winning best feature and ensemble as well as a tribute to director to Kathryn Bigelow, but the indie film, which came out last June, needed a boost in the more competitive Oscar race. Working with writer Mark Boal, who was embedded in Iraq, Bigelow fashioned a tough rigorous war thriller that is both formally beautiful and superbly acted. The Hurt Locker will also need critics groups to remind people why it's so good.
Magnolia and Participant's current doc front-runner Food Inc. continues to gain momentum in the awards derby. Again, while the didactic movie has a strong point-of-view, director Robert Kenner doesn't grind you down with heavy dogma and detail; the movie stays accessible and handles with style the nasty eye-opening revelations about where we get our food.
That's one of the hallmarks of the movies that are winning over critics and audiences this season: Precious, The Blind Side, Up in the Air and Invictus take on heavy topics like neglect, abuse, race and job loss with a light touch, leavening the tough stuff with fantasy, humor, romance and in the case of the The Blind Side and Invictus, sports. (Backstage polls five entertainment pundits on the year's best acting ensembles.)
The rest of the Gotham Award winners are on the jump. IndieWIRE covers the high points of the evening, which also featured appearances from tributees Stanley Tucci and Working Title's Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan, and presenters Meryl Streep and the Coen brothers, who brought down the house. Here's a red carpet arrivals gallery.
[IndieWIRE photo of The Hurt Locker stars Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner and Brian Geraghty at the Gotham Awards by Brian Brooks.]
The Hurt Locker Kathryn Bigelow, director; Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro, producers (Summit Entertainment)
Best Ensemble Performance
The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner, Anthonie Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pearce, David Morse and Evangeline Lilly. Mark Bennett, casting director
Food, Inc. Robert Kenner, director; Robert Kenner, Elise Pearlstein, producers (Magnolia Pictures)Best Feature
Robert Siegel for Big Fan
Catalina Saavedra in The Maid
Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You
You Won’t Miss Me; Ry Russo-Young, director/producer