By Peter Knegt and Nigel M. Smith | Indiewire December 2, 2013 at 11:51AM
The 23rd annual Gotham Independent Film Awards go down tonight at Cipriani Wall Street in New York, the first competitive awards show of the season. Indiewire's Managing Editor Nigel M. Smith and Senior Writer Peter Knegt will both be on the scene offering minute-by-minute coverage, but in the meantime they figured why not each offer their thoughts on how things might play out.
Note first that the Gothams can be incredibly unpredictable, and don't cater to the Oscars like most other awards shows. Last year, the trio from "Your Sister's Sister" won best ensemble performance over the cast of "Silver Linings Playbook" (of whom 4 went on to receive Oscar nominations). The year before, "Beginners" and "The Tree of Life" tied for best feature, beating out arguable favorite "The Descendants." And in 2010, Ronald Bronstein won best breakthrough actor (for "Daddy Longlegs") over eventual Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence (for "Winter's Bone"). So despite what's suggested below, it's likely we'll be in for a few or more surprises (which we'll be all for).
The nominees: 12 Years a Slave, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Before Midnight, Inside Llewyn Davis, Upstream Color
What will win
Nigel M. Smith: "12 Years a Slave" leads this year’s noms with three total, including the night’s highest honor which it’s all but assured to snag given the rapturous response to the film and buzz since first premiering at Telluride. Only the Coens’ beloved “Inside Llewyn Davis” proves a real threat.
Peter Knegt: I'd suggest all of the films prove a threat given the Gothams history, but it definitely seems unreasonable to bet against "12 Years a Slave."
What should win
NMS: "Before Midnight" and "Inside Llewyn Davis" are extremely close seconds, but "12 Years a Slave" trumps the competition just based on its visceral pull and lasting impact.
PK: I'm a big fan of every single one of the nominated films, and won't groan no matter what's read at the end of the night. Though my heart belongs to "Before Midnight," which is the culmination of a wholly unique cinematic experience gone so remarkably right. And since it's unlikely to get much recognition elsewhere, it's the film my fingers are crossed for.
The nominees: Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, Scarlett Johansson in Don Jon, Brie Larson in Short Term 12, Amy Seimetz in Upstream Color, Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now
Who will win
NMS: Towering above the pack is Cate Blanchett’s towering turn that the Gothams likely won’t ignore.
PK: Blanchett is likely, but I feel the Gothams continue their history of not going with the flow here and reward Brie Larson.
Who should win
NMS: Blanchett is terrific but she has a whole crate load of awards coming her way. Out of the performers in this category, Scarlett Johansson was the only to truly surprise me, delivering an expertly calibrated comedic tour de force that’s up there with Marisa Tomei in “My Cousin Vinny.
PK: I can't bring myself to say anyone other than Cate Blanchett. That performance floored me and is a rare occasion where I say give her the whole crate (although -- why aren't Greta Gerwig and Julie Delpy here!?)
The nominees: Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave, Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis, Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club, Robert Redford in All Is Lost, Isaiah Washington in Blue Caprice
Who will win
NMS: The power of “12 Years a Slave” rests on Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance. Expect the Gothams to reward that power.
PK: I'm thinking they'll spread the love a bit and give this to Matthew McConaughey. He's pretty beloved in this community and I think voters might figure "12 Years" will get its due elsewhere at the Gothams.
Who should win
NMS: A dark horse in the Oscar race, Oscar Isaac deserves every accolade he can get elsewhere this awards season for his wry, sad and deeply affecting lead turn in the Coens’ latest. He was born to play this part.
PK: Agreed. I'm rooting for Isaac too, though I'd be pretty much equally pleased if Ejiofor takes it.