The Gotham Awards aren’t exactly Oscar prognosticators, but a nomination builds early momentum for the long haul ahead; being left out at this stage is not good. Jordan Peele’s box-office hit “Get Out,” which led the field with four nominations (read full nominations list here), affirmed its status as a serious player. So did three hot fall festival contenders that received three nominations each: Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” (A24) and Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me by Your Name” (Sony Pictures Classics), both upcoming, and Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project” (A24), which is now in limited release.
Dee Rees’ “Mudbound” landed a special jury prize for ensemble performance. That’s significant, because while the Netflix Sundance pickup played well at festivals, its large and superb cast, much like Best Picture winner “Spotlight,” doesn’t fall into convenient lead and supporting categories; that could hurt eventual SAG and Oscar nods. However, consider Gotham “Breakthrough Actor” nominee Mary J. Blige a lock for a Supporting Actress slot. And streaming site Netflix could be on its way to making inroads with Oscar nominations for the first time outside the documentary category.
Nabbing an award-season spotlight from special tributes are Cannes special-prize and Emmy-winner Nicole Kidman (“The Beguiled”), Dustin Hoffman (Netflix’s “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)”), Cannes director-winner Sofia Coppola (whose “The Beguiled” was shut out), “Get Out” producer Jason Blum, and cinematographer Ed Lachman (whose “Wonderstruck” was a Gotham Awards no-show). And a Humanitarian Tribute to Al Gore will give a boost to documentary contender “An Inconvenient Sequel.”
The documentary race is wide open: Of the Gotham nominees, so far Yance Ford’s powerful personal saga “Strong Island” (Netflix) is nabbing the most attention.
Best Actor Contenders
Gotham breakthrough actor Timothée Chalamet is a strong contender for a Best Actor Oscar nod for “Call Me by Your Name.” James Franco got a lift for his long-shot Oscar campaign for “The Disaster Artist,” along with Robert Pattinson, star of the Safdie brothers’ Cannes hit “Good Time,” British breakout Daniel Kaluuya for “Get Out,” and Netflix comedian Adam Sandler for a more dramatic role in Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected).” This year’s Best Actor race is wide open, so a dark horse could sneak in, even the late Harry Dean Stanton in “Lucky,” which has been little seen. Willem Dafoe is more likely to land a Supporting Actor nod for his paternal poverty-row motel manager in “The Florida Project.”
Best Actress Contenders
Irish star Saorise Ronan is a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination for channeling writer-director Greta Gerwig in “Lady Bird.” Craig Gillespie’s “I, Tonya” is most likely to enter the Oscar fray via acting recognition for Margot Robbie as the skating star and Allison Janney as her mother. (The Gothams don’t give out Supporting awards.)
More likely to wind up at the Indie Spirits, because it has not been widely seen, is Kogonada’s critical succes d’estime “Columbus,” with three nominations, including Best Actress Haley Lu Richardson, as well as Melanie Lynskey, star of Netflix’s “i don’t feel at home in this world anymore,” and Lois Smith in “Marjorie Prime.” Another Oscar longshot is Brooklynn Prince, Breakthrough Actor nominee for “The Florida Project.”
The only nomination for Amazon Studio’s summer hit “The Big Sick” (Lionsgate) was Best Screenplay for Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon — also its strongest shot for an Oscar nomination.
Along with Coppola’s “The Beguiled” and Todd Haynes’ “Wonderstruck,” completely omitted from the Gothams push were eligible high-profile films from Woody Allen (“Wonder Wheel”), Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”), and David Gordon Green (“Stronger”). Focus Features’ “The Beguiled,” and two Amazon titles, “Wonderstruck,” and “Wonder Wheel,” may wind up with some craft Oscar nods, and Allen’s film could yield Kate Winslet a Best Actress slot, while Fox Searchlight’s “The Shape of Water” will get plenty of other awards attention from critics and other groups.
Two late-breaking movies picked up out of the fall festivals also did not make the cut, including Scott Cooper western “Hostiles,” starring Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike, and “Chappaquiddick,” starring Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy, which Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios is pushing into the Oscar season. They have a lot of catching up to do.
Other movies left out of the Gotham conversation were a raft of ineligible UK productions: Andy Serkis’ “Breathe,” Stephen Frears’ “Victoria & Abdul,” Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour,” Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and Paul McGuigan’s “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.”