And the Gotham Award goes to...

NEW YORK • Production house A24 scored big on Monday night at the 28th annual IFP Gotham Awards.

It bagged five prizes in the event honouring independent movies that was held in New York City and which kicked off a slew of awards occasions in the run-up to the Oscars.

The Gotham Awards are an early indication of which movies to watch out for, with previous winners Birdman (2014), Spotlight (2015), Get Out (2017)and Moonlight (2016) moving on to clinch Oscar triumph.

On Monday, A24, whose Oscar track record includes Moonlight and Lady Bird (2017), won five statuettes with its three movies - First Reformed (2017), Eighth Grade (2018) and Hereditary (2018).

Mystery drama First Reformed picked up two awards, with Ethan Hawke named Best Actor and Paul Schrader winning for Best Screenplay. Comedic drama Eighth Grade saw Elsie Fisher taking home the Breakthrough Actor award, while Bo Burnham won the Breakthrough Director trophy.

Toni Collette won Best Actress for her role in thriller Hereditary.

But First Reformed and three other nominees could not prevent Sony Pictures Classics' western drama The Rider from galloping away with the most prestigious accolade - Best Feature.

The event also honoured several people for their contributions to the industry, reported Variety.

Among them was actress Rachel Weisz, who in her acceptance speech, said: "Independent films are often really, really hard to get made.

"The films are bold and dangerous and they're also really fragile… That's why I'm proud to get this award from IFP because for 40 years, it has been helping independent film-makers."

Weisz also took the stage a second time, accepting the Special Jury Award For Ensemble Performance on behalf of her cast mates Olivia Colman and Emma Stone in the historic-period drama, The Favourite. Both could not attend the event.

Fisher, 15, also found herself a favourite among many in the audience when she said on stage: "Perhaps the future is female?"

She had noted that all five of the nominees for Breakthrough Actor were women.

Willem Dafoe reminded everyone why they were in the profession when he said of his actor tribute honour: "A little bird told me that I have made more than 100 films.

"That's a lot. But really, I feel like I'm just starting."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2018, with the headline 'And the Gotham Award goes to...'. Print Edition | Subscribe