"Short Term 12"
Cinedigm Brie Larson in "Short Term 12."

On Thursday, the nominations for the 23rd Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards will act as the first major moment of the 2013-14 awards season, with nominations being announced for seven competitive categories (including wholly new ones for both best actor and best actress).

What should we expect? Well, the nominations could give us some insight into what lies ahead -- but don't expect to too much Oscar crossover. On average, a couple of films that are nominated for Gotham's top prize -- best feature -- also end up getting a best picture nomination. Last year, none of the films did (though two films nominated in other categories -- "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild" -- did). The year before, though, we had two do so in "The Descendants" and "The Tree of Life."

Keep in mind that the nominations are produced by a handful of small committees, a process that encourages quirky and unexpected additions and makes predicting the nominations next to impossible. Ditto Gotham's rather vague submission criteria, which notes the following:

-Filmmaking with a point of view.
Each  Gotham Independent Film Award™ will be given to individual films or performers in films where the vision of an individual director, producer, writer or writer/director is abundantly evident, and where the film cannot be classically defined as a “work for hire.”

-Feature-length (defined as over 70 minutes).

-Films made with an economy of means.

-Films must be American.
The film must be directed and/or produced by a US born or based filmmaker.

-Screening availability by the Nominating Committee.
The film must be submitted on DVD by the deadline or made available for screening by nominating committee. (Not applicable to the Festival Genius Audience Award)

-Independent Distribution.
Films must be scheduled for a theatrical or digital platform or Pay TV release during calendar year 2012 (Midnight January 1 – 11:59 pm December 31). See special criteria for cable and digital platforms below.

-Theatrical release.
The release can be through a specialty division of a studio, an independent distributor, or via self-distribution. The film must be screened for paid admission in a commercial motion picture theatre in New York City and/or Los Angeles County. It must run for at least seven consecutive days. The film must be advertised and marketed during the New York and/or Los Angeles County run in a manner considered normal and customary to the industry. The film must be publicly exhibited by means of 16mm, 35mm or 70mm film, or in a digital format, delivered to the screen by an image and sound file format suitable for exhibition in existing commercial cinema sites.

Oprah Winfrey in "Lee Daniels' The Butler"
Oprah Winfrey in "Lee Daniels' The Butler"

Now place these rules against "Lee Daniels' The Butler" (too expensive at $30 million? Though, mind you, last year the $35 million budgeted "The Master" made the cut), "12 Years a Slave"" (American co-produced and set, it's directed by Brit Steve McQueen), "Dallas Buyers Club" (same situation, with a Canadian filmmaker this time)

Do they even qualify? Maybe. Probably, even. But some, like full-on British production "Philomena," France's "Blue is the Warmest Color" and "The Past," as well as studio releases like "Labor Day," "Her" and "American Hustle," we can probably count out for sure.