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‘Spotlight’ Snags Top Prize at Gotham Awards

Tom McCarthy’s movie also wins screenplay honor at New York-based indie awards

“Spotlight” was named Best Feature at the 25th Gotham Independent Film Awards in New York City on Monday.

Director Tom McCarthy’s film about the Boston Globe’s investigation of the Catholic priest abuse scandal also claimed the best screenplay prize for McCarthy and Josh Singer, and its ensemble cast was given a special jury prize.

The lead acting prizes went to two underdogs. “Love & Mercy” star Paul Dano took home the best actor award for his portrayal of young Brian Wilson in the Beach Boys biopic directed by Bill Pohlad.

And 23-year-old Bel Powley edged out several veterans, including Cate Blanchett for “Carol,” Blythe Danner for “I’ll See You in My Dreams” and Brie Larson for “Room” to claim best actress for her work on the Sundance hit “The Diary of a Teenage Girl.”

Mya Taylor from “Tangerine” won the first award, Breakthrough Actor. The transgender actress was nominated alongside her castmate, Kitana Kiki Rodriguez. (The “Breakthrough Actor” category is gender-neutral, and contained both male and female nominees.)

Joshua Oppenheimer‘s “The Look of Silence,” a companion piece to “the Act of Killing” and a film about a family of Indonesian genocide survivors, won the best documentary award. Jonas Carpigano took the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director prize for “Mediterranea,” a refugee story that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

The dystopian USA series “Mr. Robot” won the first-ever Gotham Award for breakthrough longform series, while “Shugs and Fats” won the shortform award. The Gothams had never before honored TV or video content.

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” went into the ceremony with the most nominations, four. “Carol” was second with three, but it went home empty-handed, except for a career-achievement honor for its director, Todd Haynes.

“Spotlight” won in the two categories in which it was nominated, along with taking the special jury award.

The Gotham Awards, which are chosen by small juries, are not typically a reliable indicator of what other awards bodies will choose, although last year’s winner, “Birdman,” went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture. That was only the second time the two ceremonies had honored the same film, the first being “The Hurt Locker” in 2009.

The awards, which are produced by the Independent Feature Project, took place at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, with special awards going to actors Helen Mirren and Robert Redford, director Haynes and producer Steve Golin.

The show was hosted by Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. Presenters included Harvey Keitel, Julianne Moore, Alejandro G. Inarritu and Dan Rather.

Winners indicated by *WINNER.

Best Feature
“The Diary of a Teenage Girl”
“Heaven Knows What”
“Spotlight” *WINNER

Best Documentary
“Approaching the Elephant”
“Cartel Land”
“Heart of a Dog”
“Listen to Me Marlon”
“The Look of Silence” *WINNER

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Desiree Akhavan for “Appropriate Behavior”
Jonas Carpigano for “Mediterranea” *WINNER
Marielle Heller for “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”
John Magary for “The Mend”
Josh Mond for “James White”

Best Screenplay
“Carol,” Phyllis Nagy
“The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” Marielle Heller
“Love & Mercy,” Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner
“Spotlight,” Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer *WINNER
“While We’re Young,” Noah Baumbach

Best Actor*
Christopher Abbott in “James White”
Kevin Corrigan in “Results”
Paul Dano in “Love & Mercy” *WINNER
Peter Sarsgaard in “Experimenter”
Michael Shannon in “99 Homes”

Best Actress*
Cate Blanchett in “Carol”
Blythe Danner in “I’ll See You in My Dreams”
Brie Larson in “Room”
Bel Powley in “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” *WINNER
Lily Tomlin in “Grandma”
Kristen Wiig in “Welcome to Me”

Breakthrough Actor
Rory Culkin in “Gabriel”
Arielle Holmes in “Heaven Knows What”
Lola Kirke in “Mistress America”
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez in “Tangerine”
Mya Taylor in “Tangerine” *WINNER

*Gotham Jury Award: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci and Brian D’Arcy James for “Spotlight”

Breakthrough Series — Long Form
“Jane the Virgin”
Mr. Robot” *WINNER
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

Breakthrough Series — Short Form
“Bee and Puppy Cat”
“The Impossibilities”
“Shugs and Fats” *WINNER
“You’re So Talented”