By Peter Knegt | Indiewire October 24, 2013 at 10:0AM
Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" led the 23rd Gotham Independent Film Award nominations, it was announced this morning. The film picked up three nods, including best feature, best actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and best breakthrough actor (Lupita Nyong'o).
It was -- as always -- a rather surprising batch of nominations that in large part went their own way (as is the case when small nominating committees are behind them). The Gothams nominated David Lowery's "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight," Joel and Ethan Coen's "Inside Llewyn Davis" and Shane Carruth's "Upstream Color" alongside "12 Years" in the best feature category. Certainly a worthy quintet, but absent as a result were Alexander Payne's "Nebraska," Noah Baumbach's "Frances Ha," Jeff Nichols' "Mud," Nicole Holofcener's "Enough Said," Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," Destin Daniel Cretton's "Short Term 12," Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station" and JC Chandor's "All Is Lost."
Of those films, "Nebraska," "Frances Ha," "Enough Said" and "Mud" failed to receive a single nod, thought the rest all did well in other categories, including the first ever "best actor" and "best actress" races at the Gothams (which collectively replaced the "best ensemble" category).
Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine") and Brie Larson ("Short Term 12") were in the mix for best actress, joining Amy Seimetz ("Upstream Color," and also a nominee for best breakthrough director for "Sun Don't Shine" -- the first time a person has gotten an acting nod and a breakthrough directing nod at the Gothams for two different movies), Shailene Woodley ("The Spectacular Now") and Scarlett Johansson ("Don Jon"). The latter three were all something of surprises, given they were included over the more expected likes of Julie Delpy ("Before Midnight"), Greta Gerwig ("Frances Ha"), June Squibb ("Nebraska") and Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Enough Said").
The best actress nominees certainly didn't pander to Oscar either, with Blanchett the only likely crossover nominee, and the Oscar-hungry casts of eligible films "August: Osage County" and "Lee Daniels' The Butler" overlooked in all the acting categories altogether (not surprising really given these are not critical favorites and the nominating committees are made up largely of film critics and festival programmers).
The best actor nominees did feature three men likely to make the Oscar race -- Chiwetel Ejiofor ("12 Years"), Matthew McConaughey ("Dallas Buyers Club") and Robert Redford ("All Is Lost") -- alongside Oscar Issac ("Inside Llewyn Davis") and Isaiah Washington ("Blue Caprice"). Not present? Bruce Dern ("Nebraska"), James Franco ("Spring Breakers"), Ethan Hawke ("Before Midnight") and James Gandolfini ("Enough Said").
"Fruitvale Station" breakout Michael B. Jordan also missed the best actor cut, but he did end up getting a nomination in the somewhat confusing best breakthrough actor category. He was joined by Dane DeHaan ("Kill Your Darlings"), Kathryn Hahn ("Afternoon Delight"), Lupita Nyong'o ("12 Years a Slave") and Robin Weigert ("Concussion"). All deserving nominees, though Hahn and Weigert have had considerable careers before these arguable breakthroughs, while Brie Larson and Oscar Isaac perhaps had more definitively "breakthrough" performances but were nominated in the general acting categories.
Either way, though, these nominations are overall eclectic and interesting batch that work well to represent what has very much been an eclectic and interesting year in independent film. And this notion extends to the as-yet-unmentioned Best Documentary and Bingham Ray Breakthrough DIrector Award categories, which included the likes of "The Act of Killing," "The Crash Reel," "First Cousin Once Removed," "Let The Fire Burn" and "Our Nixon" in the former, and Ryan Coogler ("Fruitvale Station"), Adam Leon ("Gimme The Loot"), Alexandre Moors ("Blue Caprice"), Stacie Passon ("Concussion") and Amy Seimetz ("Sun Don't Shine") in the latter.
The winners will be announced on December 2, 2013 in New York City. Full list of nominations on the next page.
The complete nominations for the 23rd Gotham Independent Film Awards:
12 Years a Slave
Steve McQueen, director; Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Bill Pohlad, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Anthony Katagas, producers. (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
David Lowery, director; Tony Halbrooks, James M. Johnston, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Amy Kaufman, Cassian Elwes, producers (IFC Films)
Richard Linklater, director; Richard Linklater, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Sara Woodhatch, producers (Sony Pictures Classics)
Inside Llewyn Davis
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, directors; Scott Rudin, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, producers (CBS Films)
Shane Carruth, director; Shane Carruth, Casey Gooden, Ben LeClair, producers. (erbp)
The Act of Killing
Joshua Oppenheimer, director; Signe Byrge, Joshua Oppenheimer, producers (Drafthouse Films)
The Crash Reel
Lucy Walker, director; Julian Cautherly, Lucy Walker, producers (HBO Documentary Films)
First Cousin Once Removed
Alan Berliner, director and producer (HBO Documentary Films)
Let the Fire Burn
Jason Osder, director and producer (Zeitgeist Films)
Penny Lane, director; Brian L. Frye, Penny Lane, producers (Cinedigm and CNN Films)
Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station (The Weinstein Company)
Adam Leon for Gimme the Loot (Sundance Selects)
Alexandre Moors for Blue Caprice (Sundance Selects)
Stacie Passon for Concussion (RADiUS-TWC)
Amy Seimetz for Sun Don’t Shine (Factory 25)
Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS Films)
Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features)
Robert Redford in All Is Lost (Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions)
Isaiah Washington in Blue Caprice (Sundance Selects)
Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine (Sony Pictures Classics)
Scarlett Johansson in Don Jon (Relativity Media)
Brie Larson in Short Term 12 (Cinedigm)
Amy Seimetz in Upstream Color (erbp)
Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now (A24)
Dane DeHaan in Kill Your Darlings (Sony Pictures Classics)
Kathryn Hahn in Afternoon Delight (The Film Arcade and Cinedigm)
Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station (The Weinstein Company)
Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Robin Weigert in Concussion (RADiUS-TWC)
Spotlight on Women Filmmakers ‘Live the Dream’ Grant
For the third consecutive year, IFP is proud present the euphoria Calvin Klein Spotlight on Women Filmmakers ‘Live the Dream’ grant, a $25,000 cash award for an alumna of IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs. This grant aims to further the careers of emerging women directors by supporting the completion, distribution and audience engagement strategies of their first feature film.
The nominees are:
Afia Nathaniel, director, Dukhthar
Gita Pullapilly, director, Beneath the Harvest Sky
Deb Shoval, director, AWOL
The winner of this grant in 2012 was Stacie Passon for Concussion, a Gotham Award nominee this year for the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award.
Fifteen writers, critics and programmers participated in the nomination process, considering 203 eligible submissions. The Nominating Committees for the 2013 Gotham Independent Film Awards were:
Nominating Committee for Best Feature and Breakthrough Director:
Scott Foundas, Lead Film Critic, Variety
Eric Kohn, Lead Film Critic, Indiewire
Christy Lemire, Film Critic, ChristyLemire.com and co-host, What the Flick?!
Andrew O’Hehir, Film Critic, Salon.com
Dana Stevens, Movie Critic, Slate
Nominating Committee for Best Actor, Best Actress, and Breakthrough Actor:
Justin Chang, Senior Film Critic, Variety
Noah Cowan, Artistic Director, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post Film and Theater Film Critic
David Rooney, Film & Theater Critic, The Hollywood Reporter
Leah Rozen, freelance entertainment writer
Nominating Committee for Best Documentary:
Charlotte Cook, Director of Programming, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
Ben Fowlie, Founder & Executive Director, Camden International Film Festival
Cynthia Fuchs, Film-TV Editor, PopMatters
Mike Maggiore, Programmer and Publicist, Film Forum
Sky Sitney, Festival Director, AFI Docs