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The 30th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards were awarded Monday night in New York during a semi-live virtual broadcast, amplifying key contenders gunning for spots in the Oscar race. British actor of Pakistani origin and potential Oscar acting contender Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) took home Best Actor at the ceremony.

Also, Nicole Beharie (Miss Juneteenth) got Best Actress, while likely Best Picture nominee Nomadland (directed by Chloé Zhao) took home Best Feature at the Gothams. The Gothams honour films that encapsulate every facet of modern independent cinema and pay tribute to the industry’s best, including a tear-jerking tribute to Chadwick Boseman. As previously announced, presumptive Oscar contender Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman were this year’s recipients of the Gotham Awards Tribute prize.


Riz Ahmed

Riz Ahmed in ‘Sound of Metal’


Riz Ahmed gave the best acceptance speech of the night. “It’s been a crazy year for all of us,” he said, “with a lot of loss, and time to reflect. One thing we’ve all learned is we don’t get anywhere on our own. Our well being is dependent on each other. I feel the same way about what we do as actors. It’s a group sport.”



He went on to quote the late, great actor Irrfan Khan: “‘Surrender to the dance of uncertainty,’” he said. “It feels like a wobbly time. If we can wobble together, we may find each other dancing.”

The quote Riz invoked in his acceptance speech comes from the statement Irrfan’s wife, Sutapa Sikdar, released after his death. “I asked my children, if possible, they could sum up a lesson taught by their father that has been important to them,” she wrote, and their eldest son, Babil, said, “Learn to surrender to the dance of uncertainty and trust your faith in the universe.”

Read: Trailer review: Riz Ahmed’s ‘Mogul Mowgli’ is an intense story of self-discovery

Riz won for his performance in Sound of Metal, in which he plays a drummer who begins losing his hearing. He was nominated alongside Chadwick Boseman, Jesse Plemons, John Magaro and Jude Law.

The show isn’t watched by many, but the winners do contribute momentum that steers various voting groups toward which movies matter most.