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Gotham Awards: Who Will Win and Who Should Win at Tonight's Awards Season Kickoff

Indiewire 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 will be on the scene offering minute-by-minute coverage, but in the meantime we figured why not offer a preview of how things might play out.
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Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in "Before Midnight"
Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in "Before Midnight"

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.

READ MORE: Gotham Awards Announce 2013 Nominations

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). 

12 Years A Slave

Best Feature
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.

Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins in "Blue Jasmine."
Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins in "Blue Jasmine."

Best Actress
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!?)
 

Dallas Buyers Club
"Dallas Buyers Club"

Best Actor
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.

Afternoon Delight

Best Breakthrough Performer
The nominees: Dane DeHaan in Kill Your Darlings, Kathryn Hahn in Afternoon Delight, Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station, Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave, Robin Weigert in Concussion

Who will win
NMS: No newcomer this year has more buzz that “12 Years a Slave” favorite Lupita Nyong’o. She’s an undeniable revelation and leaves a lasting impression the Gothams will likely reward.

PK: This category has almost never gone for the Oscar favorite (last year it was Emayatzy Corinealdi over Quvenzhané Wallis), but I just can't decide who could really upset Lupita. So I'll go with her as well, though I'm fully expecting to be surprised.

Who should win
NMS: Kathryn Hahn’s been a working actress for a long while now but in “Afternoon Delight” she's afforded her first lead role and she kills it delivering her most fully realized performance yet, proving she's more than ready for the big leagues.

PK: I loved Hahn too. And everyone in this category, for that matter. But Dane DeHaan was in "Kill Your Darlings" and no one seems to be talking about it. So I'd love if the Gothams helped change that.

Amy Seimetz, Upstream Color

Best Breakthrough Director
The nominees: Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station, Adam Leon for Gimme the Loot, Alexandre Moors for Blue Caprice, Stacie Passon for Concussion, Amy Seimetz for Sun Don’t Shine

Who will win
NMS: Although her feature debut “Sun Don’t Shine” was all but ignored by audiences, the Gothams clearly have a soft spot for Renaissance gal Amy Seimetz, also nominated in the Best Actress category for “Upstream Color.” Expect her to win this honor to toast to a stellar year.

PK: I, on the other hand, expect Ryan Coogler.

Who should win
NMS: All newcomers are deserving but Seimetz deserves recognition most for her banner year. Plus “Sun Don’t Shine” is a total knock-out.

PK: I'm going to match your will/should duo and go with Coogler. Though -- and I know this sounds like a cop-out -- I'd be sincerely pleased if any of these folks won.

"The Act of Killing"
Drafthouse Films A musical sequence from "The Act of Killing."

Best Documentary
The nominees: The Act of Killing, The Crash Reel, First Cousin Once Removed, Let the Fire Burn, Our Nixon

What will win
NMS: "The Act of Killing." Considering its competition, I’d be shocked if Joshua Oppenheimer’s staggering debut was overlooked.

PK: I wouldn't be shocked if "First Cousin Once Removed" or "Let The Fire Burn" upset, but I have to say "The Act of Killing" as well.

What should win
NMS: Challenging and brave in ways few docs are, "The Act of Killing" is impossible to ignore and worth championing.

PK: Absolutely agree. I really hope this is the first of many doc awards "The Act of Killing" wins this season.

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This article is related to: Gotham Awards, Gotham Awards, Awards Season Roundup