Celine Song's wistful romance Past Lives has earned top honours at the Gotham Awards while the night's biggest drama came in a political speech by Robert De Niro that the actor claimed had been edited without his permission. Past Lives may be poised to be an Oscar sleeper this year after winning best feature film at the Gothams. Affection is strong for Song's directorial debut, starring Greta Lee as a woman born in Seoul who, after marrying an American (John Magaro), reconnects with a childhood friend from South Korea (Teo Yoo). The ceremony went off-script when De Niro, co-star in Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon, took the podium to present a tribute award to the film. While giving his remarks, De Niro noticed a section had been omitted on the teleprompter. He later returned to read the missing section from his phone. "The beginning of my speech was edited, cut out," De Niro said. "I didn't know about it." De Niro chided Hollywood -- specifically John Wayne -- for earlier depictions of Native Americans, and condemned former US president Donald Trump "The former president lied to us more than 30,000 times during his four years in office, and he's keeping up the pace with his current campaign of retribution," De Niro said. "With all of his lies, he can't hide his soul. He attacks the weak, destroys the gifts of nature and shows his disrespect for example using Pocahontas as a slur." De Niro seemed to blame Apple, which produced "Killers of the Flower Moon," for the changes to his speech. It was still a big night for Scorsese's epic, about the Osage murders in the early 20th century, even though Scorsese unexpectedly wasn't in attendance. Lily Gladstone, who stars in the film opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, won for best lead performance in a different film The Unknown Country. In her speeches for both films Gladstone praised the filmmakers for prioritising Native perspectives. Put on by the Gotham Film & Media Institute, the Gothams have some quirks that make them different than other awards. Prizes are chosen by small committees of film professionals, critics and journalists. Their acting categories are also gender neutral, with 10 actors nominated for lead performance, and another 10 up for supporting performances. The Gothams this year removed a $35 million budget cap for nominees, but many big-budget films still opted not to submit themselves. In the TV categories, the Netflix series "Beef," starring Steven Yeun and Ali Wong as a pair locked in a feud after a road rage incident, won for both breakthrough series under 40 minutes and for Wong's performance. "If you haven't seen 'Beef' yet, I swear it's more than me and Steven crying." Wong said. Tribute awards ensured some star power hit the Gothams stage. Among the recipients were Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie of Barbie, Bradley Cooper, the director, star and co-writer of Maestro, and Ben Affleck, the director and co-star of Air. The Gothams have a checkered history of forecasting future awards glory. Last year, it was the first win in what became a runaway Oscar campaign for Everything Everywhere All at Once, and where Ke Huy Quan's supporting-actor bid got its start. The year before that, Gotham winner "The Lost Daughter" faded on the campaign trail, but 2020-winner "Nomadland" went the distance to the Academy Awards.