Perhaps host David Cross said it best when talking about the ever-present indie vs. studio issue currently shining a negative light on the Gotham Awards (a 16 year-old event that's supposed to honor low-budget indie flicks, yet somehow managed to include films with budgets close to $100 million): "We're here to celebrate the films that show you don't need a big studio, films with an untested director and cast -- films like The Departed. How that got greenlit I have no idea."
Of course, he's referencing the Martin Scorsese pic, which was one of five films nominated (Half Nelson, Little Children, Marie Antoinette and Old Joy being the other four) in the Best Feature category, despite it's $90 million budget. However, with its minuscule $1 million budget, Half Nelson came out victorious, taking home the award for Best Feature, while Ryan Fleck picked up the prize for Breakthrough Director and newbie Shareeka Epps won for Breakthrough Actor (an award she shared with Babel's Rinko Kikuchi). Babel also came out on top in the Best Ensemble Cast category, Iraq in Fragments won for Best Documentary and, last but certainly not least, Choking Man claimed the prize for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You -- a category that specializes in honoring films that currently do not have theatrical distribution. For those of you interested in watching the ceremony (which took place last night), you can catch it on NYC TV next Wednesday, as well as on iFilm beginning this Monday.
So, what do you think -- do films like The Departed, Marie Antoinette ($40 million budget) and Babel ($25 million budget) belong at an event that's supposed to be geared toward indie flicks? Then again, the definition of "indie" was thrown out the window a long time ago, and is now used as more of a marketing tool than anything else.