This morning I wrote a friend about Paul Schrader‘s First Reformed and the intensely Bressonian lead performance by Ethan Hawke, and how only a few short months ago they both looked like potential Oscar contenders. All the critics called First Reformed a major comeback for Schrader, remember, and all those smooth journos who interviewed Hawke spoke of his performance in hushed tones.

I nonetheless told my colleague that as of right now, First Reformed has fallen off the Best Picture map. None of the handicappers have it on their Best Picture lists. On top of which Hawke is favored only by Anne Thompson and myself on the Gold Derby Best Actor spitball charts.

But things are slightly different now. A couple of hours ago First Reformed got a boost with three Gotham Award nominations — Best Feature, Best Screenplay and Best Actor for Hawke. Schrader’s closest competitor is Yorgos LanthimosThe Favorite — Best Feature, best Screenplay and Ensemble Female Lead (Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz).

I’m guessing that the left-coast Spirit Awards will also nominate First Reformed in the same categories and perhaps in a couple more, and that’ll be fine. But on the other hand the Gold Derby lightweights and go-alongs who are presently ignoring Schrader’s film will probably feel fortified by telling themselves that First Reformed being honored by the Gothams and Spirits means that it belongs in the indie ghetto, and is therefore not a mainstream awards contender.

That would be dead wrong, fellas, as it belongs in the Oscar realm as much as A Star Is Born, Green Book or (cough) Black Panther; Hawke’s performance also belongs right alongside Viggo Mortensen‘s and whomever else you want to name.

Spike Lee‘s BlacKkKlansman didn’t fare very well with the Gothams — the only nomination went to Adam Driver for his performance as White Starsky.

The 2018 Gotham nominees are easily clickable and readable via Ramin Setoodeh’s Variety story. Why do I have to paste and re-code and re-formulate these nominations? Fuck that busywork.

HE: (plus)