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Gotham Awards: Michael B. Jordan, Shailene Woodley Among Stars Glowing in Indie-Film Spotlight

Michael B Jordan P 2013
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Michael B. Jordan on the Gotham Awards red carpet

"The goal tonight is to make the Coen brothers like me, and not make an enemy out of the Weinsteins," host Nick Kroll told The Hollywood Reporter before Monday night's ceremony.

Some of the biggest names in independent film stepped out in Manhattan Monday night for the 2013 Gotham Awards, one of the first major trophy-fests of the season.

Host Nick Kroll said he'd consulted friend and last year's host Mike Birbiglia for advice on what to do, and he already seemed to have a good idea of who he should focus on and what effect he should have on those people.

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"The goal tonight, I think, is to not embarrass myself and to have someone tell the Coen brothers that I'm interesting enough to put in a movie. That's honestly the goal tonight is to make the Coen brothers like me, and not make an enemy out of the Weinsteins," Kroll told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet prior to the ceremony.

After joking that he'd "seen the trailer for almost every movie here tonight," Kroll admitted he had seen many of the nominated films, which ranged from box-office hits like Blue Jasmine, 12 Years a Slave and Fruitvale Station to smaller movies like Afternoon Delight, Blue Caprice and Upstream Color.

"It's pretty awesome because 10 years ago, it would've been a lot more difficult to see these movies," Kroll said. "So now, to see them, you get to see a bunch in an easier format. It's really exciting."

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Blue Caprice star Isaiah Washington, whose movie has been available on demand and in theaters sang the praises of that dual-release strategy.

"People would rather go home," he told THR. "A lot of people don't have the money to get babysitters, gas and drive to the theater and people prefer … I think it's great. I watch a lot of Netflix myself. I prefer to enjoy my films at home with my wife."

Although that approach has become fairly common with indie films, Sony Pictures Classics released Blue Jasmine exclusively in theaters on July 26; the movie is still playing in theaters and the Sony subsidiary hopes to keep the film there into March, using that strategy to sustain its good buzz and strong box-office performance.

"Our goal is to keep these movies in theaters for a really long time," SPC co-president Tom Bernard told THR. "What happens is if you don't and you're in the awards season, you kind of fall out of the public's eye for that recognition."

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Blue Jasmine castmember Bobby Cannavale said he thought Woody Allen's involvement was a big part of the film's continued recognition. "I just think a good movie is a good movie, and someone like Woody Allen people pay attention to, and when he makes a really good movie, people really pay attention," he said.

Cannavale also gave us some scoop on the upcoming version of Annie, which he's been shooting in New York since September and is almost wrapped, he said.

"I think it's a really good adaptation. Emma Thompson wrote a really wonderful script, [director] Will Gluck has done a bang-up job, and they don't get any more winning than Quvenzhane Wallis -- she's really a winning little actress. And Jamie Foxx can do everything, singing and dancing and he can act. And I get to sing and dance, which I've never had the chance to do and had a great opportunity to do at home."

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Another young actress, Shailene Woodley, who was nominated for Best Actress for her work in The Spectacular Now, said she was proud to be there supporting the film.

"It was so hard to get it made, and it took so many years to get it made, so now that it finally is out into the world … it feels really rewarding when you work really, really hard to complete something and then other people respond to it," Woodley told THR. "You don't really make movies for other people, but then when other people sort of share the love that you have for that movie, it feels really special, like you're sharing a really great gift."

Having already been through one awards season with The Descendants, Woodley said she's learned to just have fun. "I feel like people constantly sort of complain about awards season and it can be really grueling at times but it's fun, and we're so lucky to do what we do," she said.

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Woodley also gushed about her upcoming movie version of The Fault in Our Stars, saying, "I don't think I've ever been more passionate about a project."

"I think the book contains so many important lessons for the world to hear, and the fact that they're being told by two 16-year-olds is even more profound and I can honestly say being part of that movie was one of the biggest honors of my life," she added, insisting fans of the book would appreciate their "verbatim" adaptation.

Michael B. Jordan, who won the Breakthrough Actor award for his role in Fruitvale Station, told us he was encouraged by the box-office success of African-American-led films like Fruitvale, Lee Daniels' The Butler and 12 Years a Slave.

"I think it's amazing and if they keep doing well, you might see more of those stories," Jordan told THR. "You might see more black filmmakers emerge and tell stories they want to tell, not just about African-American subjects, but they can be about anything. If the studios continue to take chances and risks and fund films by African-Americans, I think people will go see them. Hopefully, it will get easier as time goes on."