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For Your Consideration: Predicting the 2014 Gotham Awards Nominations

For Your Consideration: Predicting the 2014 Gotham Awards Nominations

On Thursday, the nominations for the 24th Annual Gotham Independent
Film Awards will act as the first major moment of the 2014-15 awards
season, with nominations being announced for seven competitive

What should we expect? Well, the nominations could give us some insight
into what lies ahead, at least to a degree. 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, only “12 Years a Slave” did. And while that film ended up winning Oscar’s top prize, it actually ended up losing to Oscar snubbed “Inside Llewyn Davis” at the Gothams.

This will be the second year where the Gothams feature categories for best actor and best actress. And though last year is the only comparison available, those categories should give us some Oscar hopefuls. Matthew McConaughey, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Cate Blanchett all got Gotham nods. Two of them (McConaughey and Blanchett) went on to win Oscars.

READ MORE: For Your Consideration: The 5 Big Oscar Race Takeaways From the Toronto Film Festival

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 “Birdman” (American
co-produced and set, it’s directed by Mexican Alejandro González Iñárritu), “Wild” (same situation, with a Canadian filmmaker this time — though the same one that directed nominated “Dallas Buyers Club” last year), “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (directed by an American, but a co-production of the UK and Germany), and “Only Lovers Left Alive” (oddly the exact same situation as “Budapest,” and both films also feature Tilda Swinton, who is receiving an honorary award at this year’s Gothams).

Do they even qualify? Maybe. Probably, even. But some, like full-on British productions “The Imitation Game,” “Mr. Turner” and “Theory of Everything,” Korea’s “Snowpiercer,” Poland’s “Ida,” as well as studio
releases like “Inherent Vice,” “Unbroken” and “Gone Girl,” 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, Kathryn Hahn and Ben Foster in the last few years. Which suggests that folks like Miles Teller (“Whiplash”) and Bill Hader (“The Skeleton Twins”) might be more likely to end up in the breakthrough category than best actor.

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

  • “Begin Again”
  • “Birdman”
  • “Blue Ruin”
  • Boyhood
  • “Chef”
  • “Cold in July”
  • “Dear White People”
  • “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby”
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • Foxcatcher
  • “Laggies”
  • “Listen Up Philip”
  • “Love is Strange”
  • “A Most Wanted Man”
  • “A Most Violent Year”
  • Nightcrawler
  • “Night Moves”
  • “Obvious Child”
  • “Only Lovers Left Alive”
  • “The Skeleton Twins”
  • Still Alice
  • “St. Vincent”
  • “Whiplash”
  • “Wild”

Also, remember these films come Independent Spirit Award time, as they should also make up the bulk of nominees there. It’s been a fantastic year for American independent film and perhaps a fairly Oscar friendly one as well.

Of the 23 noted, a few have significant chances at a best picture
nomination come Oscar time. “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “Foxcatcher,” “Still Alice,” “Whiplash” and “Wild” all seem like pretty safe bets for at least one or two major Oscar nods. Other favorites like “Blue Ruin,” “Dear White People,” “Listen Up Philip,” “Love is Strange,” “Obvious Child” and “The Skeleton Twins”  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:

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”

But watch out for:
“Blue Ruin”
“Dear White People”
“Listen Up Philip”
“Love is Strange”

Best Documentary
Predicted five:
“Keep On Keepin’ On”
“Life Itself”
“The Overnighters”
“Point and Shoot”

But watch out for:
“The Case Against 8”
“The Great Invisible”
“Fed Up”
“Rich Hill”
Watchers of the Sky”

Best Actress
Predicted five:
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year”
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Kristen Wiig, “The Skeleton Twins”
Reese Witherpsoon, “Wild

But watch out for:
Jessica Chastain, “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby”
Keira Knightley, “Laggies”
Elisabeth Moss, “Listen Up Philip”
Tilda Swinton, “Only Lovers Left Alive”
Robin Wright, “A Most Wanted Man”

Best Actor
Predicted five:
Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman”

JK Simmons, “Whiplash

But watch out for:
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, “A Most Wanted Man”
John Lithgow, “Love is Strange”
Alfred Molina, “Love is Strange”
Bill Murray, “St. Vincent”
Channing Tatum, “Foxcatcher”

Best Breakthrough Director (Bingham Ray Award)
The predicted five:
Dan Gilroy, “Nightcrawler”
Craig Johnson, “The Skeleton Twins”
Theodore Melfi, “St. Vincent”
Gillian Robespierre, “Obvious Child
Justin Simien, “Dear White People”

But watch out for:   
Ned Benson, “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby”
Sarah-Violet Bliss & Charles Rogers, “Fort Tilden”
Ana Lily Amirpour, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”
Charlie McDowell, “The One I Love”
John Slattery, “God’s Pocket”

Best Breakthrough Performance
The predicted five:
Ellar Coltrane, “Boyhood
Bill Hader, “The Skeleton Twins”
Jenny Slate, “Obvious Child
Miles Teller, “Whiplash
Tyler James Williams, “Dear White People”

But watch out for:
Macon Blair, “Blue Ruin”
Jaeden Lieberher, “St. Vincent”
Tony Revolori, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Charlie Tahan, “Love is Strange”
Tessa Thompson, “Dear White People”

Peter Knegt is Indiewire’s Contributing Editor and awards columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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

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