Jon Hamm’s a Ham and Other Things We Learned at the Gotham Awards

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 01: Jon Hamm speaks onstage at IFP's 24th Gotham Independent Film Awards at Cipriani, Wall Street on December 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for IFP)
Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Let the Oscar speculation begin! Yesterday, we got two windows into the possible minds of Academy members when a pair of New York organizations handed out their own end-of-season awards. First, the New York Film Critics Circle (which won’t hand out trophies until January) gave top honors to Boyhood and its director Richard Linklater while last night’s swanky Gotham Independent Film Awards awarded best feature to Alejandro Iñárritu’s Birdman. (There’s no Gotham Award for best director.) The Gotham Awards is always an exciting night, and we heard many good quips and learned many things. Including that Amy Schumer and Tilda Swinton are BFFs. Who knew?! It’s a beautiful thing. Here’s the best of the rest:

 The Tilda Swinton–Amy Schumer best friendship is mutual. Tilda’s speech began with “Amy. Fucking. Schumer!” Swinton discovered Schumer by streaming Inside Amy Schumer on her computer. Her favorite sketch is the one where a group of women meet in a park and start being “competitively self-deprecating. It’s absurd!”

 Swinton ended her speech plugging the one man to whom she said she owed her entire extraordinary year: “Chris Lyons, a very great dental technician. Year before last, I rang him up to commission four sets of teeth” — fangs to play a vampire in Only Lovers Left Alive, and other diverse chompers for Mason in Snowpiercer, Madame D. in The Grand Budapest Hotel, and the internet psychiatrist she played in Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem. “He is great, Chris Lyons. He runs a company called Fangs FX, and I’ve got his number.”

• Another friendship we didn’t know about: Meryl Streep and Steve Carell. She had lots of nice things to say about his “restraint” when they worked together on Hope Springs: “He keeps an absolute tight hold on anything that isn’t necessary. He keeps away from anything show-off-y or indulgent. It’s a very un-actor-y trait, but it’s good taste. Because that understanding of what to reveal and what to withhold is sort of the art of acting, I think. So I’m really happy to be here tonight because I was totally unprepared for what he gave us in Foxcatcher.”

 Meryl Streep is the queen of backhanded compliments: She referred to “the monosyllabic mountain of grace that is Channing Tatum.” She seemed to like Carell’s other co-star more: “the fountain of humanity and warmth and skill that Mark Ruffalo brings to his portrayal.”

• Steve Carell’s best lines, as the only one of the three Foxcatcher actors to actually show up and accept the award for Best Ensemble: “We got Meryl Streep to come here and present us with this award — suck on that!” “Best ensemble. A higher compliment could not be paid to an actor — unless of course he was to be singled out, for his own extraordinary work.” And regarding an ensemble being like a family: “That being said, I stand here tonight very much alone. Apparently the other members of my ‘family’ couldn’t make it. Just wasn’t important enough to them. ‘My daughter’s learning how to walk and talk, I don’t want to miss that.’ Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah. ‘I am the Hulk.’ Nyah nyah nyah. In all sincerity, this really is a great, great honor. Seriously, it really is.”

 Attention, indie filmmakers! Richard Linklater revealed how he pitched Boyhood to IFC’s Jonathan Sehring: “‘Start giving me money now and you might see some of it 13 years from now.’ Most movies lose money, right? This was a way he could lose money very slowly and no one would notice.”

Alejandro Iñárritu on winning Best Feature for Birdman: “I guess that this award will just help move forward the conversations that Michael Keaton and I are having with Marvel Studios to make Birdman 4.”

Another best friendship revealed! Apparently, Bennett Miller lived in Catherine Keener’s office for two years. In her long speech, she revealed a friendship that involved a lot of drinking and staying up late and watching old movies at 2 a.m. Also, Miller can do a great Scottish accent and is, Keener said, “a freak about chess. He’s a great chess player … I’ll tell you this little anecdote about my son, Clyde. At the age of 6, he challenged Bennett to a game of chess. He said, ‘Are you sure you want to play?’ And Clyde said, ‘Yeah, I want to play.’ So then Bennett took him down in about two moves. And Clyde cried like, well, like a 6-year-old, and Bennett consoled him. He told him that at 6, he didn’t even know what chess was and Clyde was already ahead of him … The chess thing makes so much sense, because that’s how Bennett makes movies. I think if he were a piece, he’d be like a horse, because he’s hung like a … No. I don’t mean that. I mean … Maybe he’s the queen …”

It’s hard to know how to respond to a ten-minute speech about yourself, but Bennett Miller did well: “Thank you. Harvey Weinstein … has never had anything to do with any film I’ve ever made. Thank you, Catherine. That was a lot of personal information.”

Michael Keaton is up there with Ted Sarandos in the questionable-jokes category. “I’d like to say, first of all, how much I love Ted Sarandos. Ted, I’ve never met you, but you and your wife Susan Sarandos [sic…”

Other Keaton targets included Steve Carell: “The courage he showed to redo all the plastic surgery and go back to his original nose, really, that says a lot, him coming here tonight.” His own Batman legacy: “I’d like to thank the folks of Gotham. It feels awfully good to be back home. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but when’s the last time you saw the Joker or the Penguin causing any problems?” And his director Alejandro Iñárritu: “At one point [he] said to me, ‘You’re ruining my movie!”’ And then I was in a bar with Zach Galifianakis and I told him that story, and he said, ‘He said the same fucking thing to me!’”

At least we know who wears the pants in the Gyllenhaal family now. “Our industry and culture sometimes make it difficult for women to exist onscreen as they really are,” said Jake Gyllenhaal, announcing an award spotlighting women in film. “Yeah. My sister told me to say that. I’m fucking serious.”

And who better to close out the night but Jon Hamm: “Honestly, the first thing I wondered about why I’m here, giving the last award of the night, is (a) Why? Why am I here? And I can think of so many things. One, somebody backed out. It’s raining. It’s cold. It’s the holidays. I get it. I’m around. I’m unemployed.” He looked around to take in everyone in the room that he knew. “Famke Janssen, I was on a plane with you, in 2002, next to you and your French bulldog.” — she shouted out “Boston terrier!” — “Boston terrier. Thank you for that,” Hamm went on. “It was tiny and it smelled bad. Harvey Weinstein, I’ve sat in restaurants that you’ve owned. Tilda Swinton and I fought fiercely for the independence of Scotland. We had blue face paint on. Bennett Miller, I know your cousin, Jordan Rubin. I mean, I love this crowd. And then I really realized, looking this way, oh yes, I get it. It took me this long to get it. It’s the Got-Hamm awards. Guys … I would have come anyway.”

The Many Things We Learned at the Gotham Awards