At Cipriani Wall Street tonight, the Gotham Independent Film Awards began the 2009-2010 award season that will stretch straight through the New York Film Critics Circle awards, the Golden Globes and ultimately, the Oscars. It was a star-studded evening, with special career tributes being accepted by Stanley Tucci, (left), Natalie Portman, Kathryn Bigelow and producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. As busy and talented an actress as she is, how Portman, at age 28 and whose breakout role was in The Phantom Menace a mere ten years ago has earned a "career tribute" was not entirely clear.
Among the other celebs who took their turns on the red carpet this evening included Brooke Shields, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Burstyn, Chris Rock, Oliver Platt, Willem Dafoe, Ryan Reynolds and a sidesplittingly funny (and super-generous with his time) Patton Oswalt, wearing a suit by L.A.-area clothier Savvy Row. Sadly, Meryl Streep, one of the night's presenters, was a red-carpet no-show.
NBC President Jeff Zucker, another expected guest, did not appear on the red carpet, but forgiveably so, given the ongoing negotiations between General Electric and Vivendi Universal, which the Times reports have made a breakthrough today, helping to clear the path for a deal with Comcast.