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Gotham Award Nominees Analysis: Three for Descendants, Martha Marcy; Two For Beginners, Take Shelter

Gotham Award Nominees Analysis: Three for Descendants, Martha Marcy; Two For Beginners, Take Shelter

Where smaller indie features are concerned, awards like the Gothams and Indie Spirits–not to mention year-end critics groups and eventually, the craft guilds–make a huge difference in building momentum for breakthrough actors such as Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson), Amy Adams (June Bug), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) and Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), who eventually earned Oscar nominations. Awards campaigns are all about turning a relative unknown or potential contender into a must-see, a movie that cannot be missed. The Gothams helped to push Winter’s Bone, The Kids Are All Right and Black Swan toward their eventual Best Picture Oscar slots–and The Hurt Locker to its win.

So happy indeed today are the folks at Fox Searchlight behind the Gotham Award-nominated films Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene, The Descendants and The Tree of Life, Focus (Beginners, Pariah), Paramount Vantage (Like Crazy), Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions (Margin Call) and Sony Pictures Classics (Take Shelter), among others. Especially helpful in a year bursting at the seams with high caliber documentaries is the winnowing process of the Gotham doc selection committee which gives a leg up to such films as Steve James’ The Interrupters. See the full listing below.

And not landing ensemble nominations hurts such would-be competitors such as Glenn Close and Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs), Woody Harrelson Rampart, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50) or Tilda Swinton We Need to Talk About Kevin), for example. Not to mention such worthy efforts as Tom McCarthy’s Win Win, Cary Fukanaga’s Jane Eyre or Miranda July’s The Future. These nominations come from small committees of critics and professionals who may consider more current films from the fall festivals over earlier releases. And the sheer commerciality of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris likely steered Gotham voters toward films that really needed their attention.

Twenty-four films received nominations across six categories; Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor, Best Ensemble Performance, and Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You. Awards will be given on November 28, when career tributes will also be given to Charlize Theron, Gary Oldman, David Cronenberg and Tom Rothman.

The nominees for the 21st Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards are:
Mike Mills, director; Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech, Miranda de Pencier, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, producers (Focus Features)
The Descendants
Alexander Payne, director; Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor, producers (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Meek’s Cutoff
Kelly Reichardt, director; Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani, Elizabeth Cuthrell, David Urrutia, producers (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Take Shelter
Jeff Nichols, director; Tyler Davidson, Sophia Lin, producers (Sony Pictures Classics)
The Tree of Life
Terrence Malick, director; Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Grant Hill, producers (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Better This World 
Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega, directors; Katie Galloway, Kelly Duane de la Vega, Mike Nicholson, producers (Loteria Films, Picturebox, Motto Pictures and Passion Pictures; ITVS in association with American Documentary | POV)
Bill Cunningham New York
Richard Press, director; Philip Gefter, producer (Zeitgeist Films)
Hell and Back Again
Danfung Dennis, director; Mike Lerner, Martin Herring, producers (Docurama Films)
The Interrupters
Steve James, director; Alex Kotlowitz, Steve James, producers (The Cinema Guild)
The Woodmans
C. Scott Willis, director; Neil Barrett, Jeff Werner, C. Scott Willis, producers (Lorber Films; Kino Lorber, Inc.)
Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Kai Lennox, Mary Page Keller, Keegan Boos (Focus Features)
The Descendants
George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Robert Forster, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Nick Krause, Amara Miller, Mary Birdsong, Rob Huebel (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Margin Call
Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Aasif Mandvi (Roadside Attractions)
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Elizabeth Olsen, Christopher Abbott, Brady Corbet, Hugh Dancy, Maria Dizzia, Julia Garner, John Hawkes, Louisa Krause, Sarah Paulson (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Take Shelter
Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Kathy Baker, Ray McKinnon, Lisagay Hamilton, Robert Longstreet (Sony Pictures Classics)
Mike Cahill for Another Earth (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Sean Durkin for Martha Marcy May Marlene (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Vera Farmiga for Higher Ground (Sony Pictures Classics)
Evan Glodell for Bellflower (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Dee Rees for Pariah (Focus Features)
Felicity Jones in Like Crazy (Paramount Vantage)
Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Harmony Santana in Gun Hill Road (Motion Film Group)
Shailene Woodley in The Descendants (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Jacob Wysocki in Terri (ATO Pictures)
Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same
Madeleine Olnek, director; Laura Terruso, Madeleine Olnek, producers
Sophia Takal, director; Lawrence Michael Levine, producer
The Redemption of General Butt Naked
Eric Strauss, Daniele Anastasion, directors and producers
Scenes of a Crime
Blue Hadaegh & Grover Babcock, directors and producers
Mark Jackson, director; Mark Jackson, Jessica Dimmock, Michael Requa, Jaime Keeling, producers
New this year, IFP is proud present the inaugural euphoria Calvin Klein Spotlight on Women Filmmakers ‘Live the Dream’ grant, a $25,000 cash award for an alumnus of IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs. This grant aims to further the careers of emerging women directors by supporting the completion, distribution and audience engagement strategies of their first feature film.
The nominees are:
Jenny Deller, director, FUTURE WEATHER
Lucy Mulloy, director, UNA NOCHE
Rola Nashef, director, DETROIT UNLEADED

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