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Even the most loyal New Yorker has to admit it: L.A. has the upper hand when it comes to awards shows. But it would seem Hollywood migrated east — at least, for one night — to attend the Gotham Independent Film Awards held at Cipriani Wall Street.

The show rivaled its West Coast counterparts with a crowd of bonafide movie stars: Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton, Ethan Hawke, Steve Carell, Patricia Arquette, Richard Linklater, Michael Keaton, Miles Teller, Marisa Tomei, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Oscar Isaac, Rene Russo, Amy Ryan and Catherine Keener among them.

This story first appeared in the December 3, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

After hitting the step and repeat, the actors trickled into the pre-ceremony cocktail hour to mingle with their peers. Perhaps it was the leftover tryptophan in the system from Thanksgiving, but all proved to be on best behavior — no divas here. “It’s a lot of fun,” said Julianne Moore of the night. “We really have no expectations. We just finished [‘Still Alice’] in August.” (The “no expectations” mind-set seemingly worked — Moore went on to win Best Actress later in the evening).

Elsewhere, Hawke stayed close to “Boyhood” costar Ellar Coltrane, while Jenny Slate accepted seemingly endless praise for her film “Obvious Child” from passersby. “Thank you,” she replied each time, clinging to her husband.

As attendees began to find their dinner seats (“Hi, tablemate, I’m Jon,” Jon Hamm politely, and likely unnecessarily, said to a nearby guest), Scarlett Johansson appeared to be on a mission — her new hubby and date for the evening Romain Dauriac was stuck outside. “I’m looking for my husband,” she said, confirming those secret wedding rumors. Her publicist quickly negotiated with a security guard, reuniting the newlyweds.

Uma Thurman, the evening’s host, promptly took the stage as the first course was served, causing latecomer Jake Gyllenhaal to scurry to his seat. “Ugh, I have to stare at Jake’s face all night,” Hawke faux-bemoaned as the actor took a seat across the table.

The awards progressed with mercifully concise speeches from winners, including Tessa Thompson for Breakthrough Actor, Ana Lily Amirpour for Breakthrough Director and director Alejandro González Iñárritu, whose film “Birdman” took home the top honor of best feature. Iñárritu’s lead in the film, Keaton, accepted his own award for best actor with a knowing nod to one of his most famous roles: Batman. “I’d like to thank the folks at Gotham,” he began to a chortling room. “It feels good to be home. Not to toot my own horn, but when’s the last time you saw the Joker or the Penguin cause any problems?”

It was a creature of a different sort, however, who ultimately stole the show: Tilda Swinton, or, as presenter Amy Schumer introduced her, “Tilda mother-f-ing Swinton.” She received the last of the evening’s three “Tribute” awards (Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and “Foxcatcher” director Bennett Miller picked up the others), and took the stage to a standing ovation. Once the applause died down, the actress began a speech that was, well, pure Tilda. “This feels, for an alien, like home,” she said in her otherworldly British lilt. “You’re all a bunch of freaks and I’m a freak, too.”

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