What should we expect? Well, the nominations could give us some insight into what lies ahead -- but don't expect to see excessive 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, it was both "The Descendants" and "The Tree of Life," while the year before a record three crossed over: "Black Swan," "The Kids Are All Right" and "Winter's Bone." Mind you, back in 2007 and 2008, no films overlapped.
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)
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.
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.
Now place these rules against "Silver Linings Playbook" (too expensive at $26 million? Though, mind you, last year the $32 million budgeted "Tree of Life" made the cut), "The Master" (even more expensive at $35 million, though again, see "Tree of Life"), "The Sessions" (American co-produced and set, it's directed by Aussie Ben Lewin) and "Promised Land" (an indie to be sure, but will the maybe-not-done film submit screeners in time? The fact that the film's star and screenwriter Matt Damon is getting honored at the ceremony suggests it is a possibility.)