Best Breakthrough Actor/Actress
The nominees: Mike Birbiglia ("Sleepwalk With Me"), Emayatzy Corinealdi ("Middle of Nowhere"), Melanie Lynskey ("Hello I Must Be Going"), Thure Lindhardt ("Keep The Lights On") and Quvenzhane Wallis ("Beasts of the Southern Wild).
Who will win: Tough call, especially with the odd wrench of Melanie Lynskey (who really "broke through" as an actress two decades ago with "Heavenly Creatures") thrown in the mix. Pretty much any of the nominees are feasible winners, including the host of the ceremony himself, Mike Birbiglia. But one would think it would be too hard to resist the tour-de-force performance of Quvenzhane Wallis, even if the fact that she's only 8 years old might turn a few voters off. And it'll definitely make for a highlight of the ceremony if the adorable and charismatic young actress takes the stage.
Who should win: Quvenzhane Wallis. Everyone nominated in this category is excellent, but Wallis's work in "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is truly revelatory.
The nominees: Zal Batmanglij ("Sound of My Voice"), Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky ("Francine"), Jason Cortlund and Julia Halperin ("Now, Forager"), Antonio Mendez Esparza ("Aqui y Alla") and Benh Zeitlin ("Beasts of the Southern Wild")
Who will win: They snubbed the film in the best feature category, but it seems highly unlikely the Gothams will not make up for it by giving the best breakthrough director award to Behn Zeitlin for "Beasts of the Southern Wild."
Who should win: Beyond Zeitlin, this is a category full of directors from vastly underseen films. Other than "Beasts," I've seen only "Sound of My Voice" and "Francine," both of which are incredibly interesting films from cinematic voices you should watch out for. I'd be happy with any of the three winning, and the exposure might be more important for the likes of Batmanglij and Cassidy and Shatzky than Zeitlin.
The nominees: "Detropia," "How To Survive a Plague," "Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present," "Room 237" and "The Waiting Room"
What will win: Last year Kelly Duane and Katie Galloway's "Better This World" surprised over more high profile nominees like "The Interrupters" and "Hell and Back Again," so perhaps were in for a similar surprise again this year. And while truly any nominee would make a worthy winner, it seems like the New York-centric and extraordinarily powerful AIDS actvism doc "How To Survive a Plague" makes the most sense to take this prize. Though watch out for "Detropia" and "Room 237."
What should win: Having not seen "The Waiting Room" its not an entirely fair decision, but "How To Survive a Plague" has resonated with me strongly some ten months after I saw it at Sundance.