Oh, it's on.
Awards season officially began tonight at the 2013 IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards, where the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis was named Best Feature and Matthew McConaughey picked up the first of what could be many Best Actor honors for his role as real-life AIDS patient and prescription-meds smuggler Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club.
A long-haired Jared Leto accepted the award on his costar's behalf at the relatively low-key ceremony, hosted by Nick Kroll at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan.
"Trying to write a joke about 12 Years A Slave was about as fun as watching 12 Years a Slave," Kroll cracked at the beginning of the show, probably figuring like everyone else that Steve McQueen's gut-checking epic would take the evening's top prize.
Instead, Joel and Ethan Coen's latest, starring Oscar Isaac as a ne'er-do-well singer-songwriter, pulled a bit of an upset in the night's top category, also topping Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Upstream Color and Before Midnight.
Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy presided over a tribute to Richard Linklater, who directed them in Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight, calling him a "singular" filmmaker.
"I think you got the best of me. I could die right now because you got the best," Delpy said. "I want to thank you from the bottom of my big fat French heart."
Steve Buscemi paid emotional tribute to the late James Gandolfini, tearing up as he spoke about The Sopranos star, whom he also acted with in Romance and Cigarettes and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.
"I cherished working with him and I'll miss him forever," the Boardwalk Empire star said. "Tony Soprano didn't come easy to him. He couldn't turn it on and off, and he sometimes resisted going to the places he needed to go."
Gandolfini's widow, Deborah Lin, and son, Matthew, accepted the honor on his behalf.
Buscemi managed to stay on an even keel with the crowd, unlike The Butler director Lee Daniels, who told the audience to "shut the f--k up" (kinda-sorta playfully) before moving on with his tribute to Forest Whitaker.
"When I did research for The Butler I became very angry at white people—that s--t ain't funny because it's not funny what happened," Daniels said. "The lesson I learned when I did The Butler was that Forest told me to keep my anger in, to not be a stereotypical angry black man. Because if I were angry and I saw racism, then it became real. I had to step above it and pretend it wasn't there. How do you tell your 17 year old son that you can't go into a 7-11 because you're African-American and a dude? But Forest helped me through that. He taught me a lot."
Complete list of winners from the 4th Annual IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards:
Best Feature: Inside Llewyn Davis
Best Documentary: The Act of Killing
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Actress: Brie Larson, Short Term 12
Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director: Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station
Breakthrough Actor: Michael P. Jordan, Fruitvale Station
Gotham Independent Film Audience Award: Jake Shimaburko: Life on Four Strings