As much as I enjoy the Gothams, New York’s independent film awards ceremony and IFP fundraiser, the actual winners are rarely, if ever, a surprise. While the Gothams don’t take place for another month, it’s safe to say that “12 Years A Slave” will win the big prizes, increasing its momentum as it heads to the Academy Awards next year.
I believe that “12 Years a Slave” is one of the strongest films of the year, but as I complain every year, placing the film against lower budget truer indie films like “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” and “Upstream Color” doesn’t feel entirely fair. You also have the Coen’s “Inside Llewyn Davis” in contention, which also feels out of place for an indie-film awards ceremony and has likely displaced more deserving indie nominees, such as “Fruitvale Station” or “Blue Caprice” or “The Spectacular Now.”
But alas, every awards show needs a certain amount of glitz and stars, so as with the West Coast Spirit Awards, the contenders have perennially grown in size and stature to include the work of the most auspicious studio divisions.
That leaves smaller categories like Breakthrough Director and Breakthrough Actor for the more authentic independent films to shine. Unfortunately, however, when the winners are announced in December, the press around the event is not going to lead with “Ryan Coogler Triumphs at Gotham Awards”; it’ll focus on the latest Fox Searchlight Oscar contender.