Back to IndieWire

For Your Consideration: Predicting This Week’s Gotham Award Nominations

For Your Consideration: Predicting This Week's Gotham Award Nominations

On Thursday, the nominations for the 23rd Annual Gotham Independent
Film Awards will act as the first major moment of the 2013-14 awards
season, with nominations being announced for seven competitive
categories (including wholly new ones for both best actor and best actress).

What should we expect? Well, the nominations could give us some insight
into what lies ahead — but don’t expect to too much 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, none of the films did (though two films nominated in other categories — “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” — did). The year before, though, we had two do so in “The Descendants” and “The Tree of

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)

-Independent Distribution.
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

Theatrical release.
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 “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (too expensive
at $30 million? Though, mind you, last year the $35 million budgeted
“The Master” made the cut), “12 Years a Slave”” (American
co-produced and set, it’s directed by Brit Steve McQueen), “Dallas Buyers Club” (same situation, with a Canadian filmmaker this time)

Do they even qualify? Maybe. Probably, even. But some, like full-on British production “Philomena,” France’s “Blue is the Warmest Color” and “The Past,” as well as studio
releases like “Labor Day,” “Her” and “American Hustle,” we can probably count out for sure.

And then there’s the “breakthrough” categories (actor and filmmaker),
which has been confusing in the past: Melanie Lynskey was considered a
“breakthrough performance” for “Hello I Must Be Going,” despite being well known in
the independent film world since 1993’s “Heavenly Creatures.” Similar things happened with Greta Gerwig and Ben Foster in the last few years. Though the additions of the “best actor” and “best actress” categories this year should probably go quite a ways in solving that problem (those categories should be very interesting to watch, especially given so many major Oscar contenders are eligible).

That said, there’s no shortage of possibilities this year in any
category. Roughly, it seems like the best feature race could boil down
to any of the following films, baring any of them don’t end up

  • “12 Years a Slave”
  • “Afternoon Delight”
  • “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”
  • All Is Lost
  • “August: Osage County”
  • “Before Midnight”
  • “Blue Jasmine”
  • “Computer Chess”
  • “Concussion”
  • “Dallas Buyers Club”
  • “Don Jon”
  • “The East”
  • “Enough Said”
  • “Escape From Tomorrow”
  • Frances Ha
  • Fruitvale Station
  • “Gimme The Loot”
  • “In a World”
  • “Inside Llewyn Davis”
  • “Kill Your Darlings”
  • “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
  • “Mother of George”
  • “Mud”
  • “Nebraska”
  • “The Place Beyond The Pines”
  • “Prince Avalanche”
  • Short Term 12
  • “The Spectacular Now”
  • Spring Breakers
  • “To The Wonder”
  • “Upstream Color”
  • “The Way, Way Back”

Also, remember these films come Independent Spirit Award time, as they should also make up the bulk of nominees there (save “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” which definitely has a budget that exceeds Spirit Award rules, while “12 Years a Slave” and “August: Osage County” seem to just make the cut at $20 million).

It’s been a fantastic year for American independent film — and perhaps a fairly Oscar friendly one as well.

Of the 20 noted, a few have significant chances at a best picture
nomination come Oscar time “12 Years a Slave” for sure, and perhaps “Nebraska,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Blue Jasmine,” “August: Osage County,” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” as well. Other favorites like “Frances Ha,” “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” “Fruitvale Station” and “Short Term 12” might prove a little too
independently minded for Academy tastes (especially given the multitude
of heavyweight studio options not being mentioned here), but that is why
awards like the Gothams and Spirits are important. And the Gothams in particular tend to go their own way, with a snub for a likely best picture Oscar nominee not just out of the question but often times the norm.

Just for fun, Indiewire took a stab at predicting Thursday’s
nominations. You can find those predictions on
the next page. Check back with us Thursday morning for the actual

Best Feature
Predicted five:
12 Years a Slave
Before Midnight
Frances Ha
Inside Llewyn Davis
Short Term 12

But watch out for:
All is Lost
Blue Jasmine
Fruitvale Station
Spring Breakers

Best Documentary
Predicted five:
20 Feet From Stardom
The Act of Killing
After Tiller
God Loves Uganda
The Square

But watch out for:
America Promise
Cutie and the Boxer
Inequality For All
Tim’s Vermeer
The Unknown Known

Best Actress
Predicted five:
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha
Brie Larson, Short Term 12 (or will she just be in for “breakthrough” — not sure of rule here)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said

But watch out for:
Lake Bell, In a World
Rooney Mara, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Robin Weigert, Concussion
Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now

Best Actor
Predicted five:
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofer, 12 Years a Slave
James Franco, Spring Breakers
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
(same sitiuation as Brie Larson)
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

But watch out for:
Casey Affleck, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station
Robert Redford, All Is Lost

Best Breakthrough Director (Bingham Ray Award)
The predicted five:
Lake Bell, In a World
Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station
Destin Daniel Cretton, Short Term 12

David Lowery, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Jill Soloway, Afternoon Delight

But watch out for:   
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Don Jon
John Krokidas, Kill Your Darlings
Adam Leon, Gimme The Loot
Randy Moore, Escape From Tomorrow
Stacie Passon, Concussion
Amy Seimetz, Sun Don’t Shine

Best Breakthrough Performance
The predicted five:
Dane DeHaan, Kill Your Darlings
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station
Brie Larson, Short Term 12

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

But watch out for:
Kaitlyn Dever, Short Term 12
Jonathan Groff, C.O.G.
Danai Gurira, Mother of George
Waad Mohammed, Wadjda
Patrick Riester, Computer Chess
Mickey Sumner, Frances Ha

Peter Knegt is Indiewire’s Senior Writer and awards columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

Check out Indiewire’s latest chart of Oscar predictions here.

Sign up HERE for
Indiewire’s Awards Season newsletter and receive a twice-weekly email
roundup of our awards stories, hand-picked by our editors from across
the Indiewire Network, plus additional coverage in the final run up to
the Oscars.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Awards and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox