Saturday, April 20, 2024

James Gandolfini Widow: “I Keep Expecting Him to Come Through the Door, Come Home”


It was emotional night for the family of James Gandolfini. The late actor received a special lifetime achievement honor at the Gotham Awards, presented by his pal Steve Buscemi. Gandolfini’s widow Deborah and his son Michael accepted the award graciously with a brief Thank you. Michael’s mother was present as were Gandolfini’s sisters. They are still in shock a bit, and don’t know what to say to the suggestion that Jim might pick up some awards for his excellent work in “Enough Said.”

After the show, Deborah showed me pictures of baby Lily, who is cute as a button. She told me none of it seems quite real. “I keep expecting him to come through the door, come home,” she told me of Gandolfini, who died this past summer unexpectedly.

The Gotham Awards, held at Cipriani, were even weirder than usual this year. I don’t understand why this show isn’t scripted– and why they can’t hire a decent host. This year it was Nick Kroll, who bombed like every comedian before him in prior years. The audience was so poorly behaved that “The Butler” director Lee Butler launched into a tirade when no one would pay attention to his introduction of honoree Forest Whitaker.

“I began to get angry at white people,” Daniels said in his speech, which got some people to shut up. Whitaker spoke beautifully.

But aside from Daniels’s melt down, the Gothams made no sense. Why was Cate Blanchett in the Best Actress category with a lot of young women from real indie movies? Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine did not belong in these awards. And why was 12 Years a Slave included? It’s from Fox Searchlight and was nicely funded.

In truth, the movies that did belong– like Fruitvale Station and Short Term 12– got awards. Fruitvale┬áreceived Breakthrough Director for Ryan Coogler and Breakthrough Actor for Michael B. Jordan. Brie Larson won Best Actress for “Short Term 12.” But that film was otherwise overlooked. Crazy.

And don’t get me started about an appearance by outgoing mayor Mike Bloomberg. His Bloomberg News just laid off 47 writers and killed its art coverage completely. Who’s he fooling? Bloomberg spent Sunday in Bermuda playing golf while four people died in a train derailment in his city. But he made it to Cipriani on time.

Here are the Gotham winners. I have no idea what the audience award means. What audience? And how did all those disparate movies wind up in one category? Thanks to director Mira Nair, who kept me entertained during the evening at our table. And it was nice to run into Isaiah Washington and his wife. He got a raw deal on “Grey’s Anatomy.” I’m glad he’s making a comeback.

Here is the full list of winners:

BEST FEATURE Inside Llewyn Davis Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, directors; Scott Rudin, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, producers (CBS Films)

BEST ACTRESS Brie Larson in Short Term 12 (Cinedigm)

BEST ACTOR Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features)

BINGHAM RAY BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station (The Weinstein Company)

BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station (The Weinstein Company)

BEST DOCUMENTARY The Act of Killing Joshua Oppenheimer, director; Signe Byrge, Joshua Oppenheimer, producers (Drafthouse Films)

AUDIENCE AWARD Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings Tadashi Nakamura, director; Donald Young, producer (Center for Asian American Media and PBS)



Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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